Rag N Bone Man : Put That Soul On Me

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Rag N Bone Man deserves to be world-renowned; his 2013 collab with Leaf Dog was a heavy fusion of smouldering soul and syrupy vocals, Reuben’s Train was one of last year’s finest tracks, and after airplay from DJ Premier, Mistajam and Zane Lowe; the Rum Committee vocalist continues to scale new musical heights on his latest collaboration. Put That Soul On Me combines his smoked-out songwriting with beats from larger-than-life MC and skilled producer Dirty Dike; who creates a fresh, musically diverse backdrop for Rag N Bone’s urban blues. The introductory title track slinks out the speaker with lazy flute loops, clean shakers and splashy snares;  as Dike’s loose, natural feel allows room for some of the EP’s most memorable vocal patterns, and Rag N Bone’s cadence channels BB King and D.P.G. simultaneously.

Across The Sky wallows in an inebriated haze as Rag N Bone drip-feeds lines, draping words in a slow drawl over minimal horn loops and sparse drums that swing like Questlove on Voodoo; while My Business finds Ronnie Bosh dropping intricate rhymes on an ill jazz flip from his Contact Play affiliate, and after Rag N Bone’s gruff, reflective verses bloom into a huge, catchy chorus; he hits a few final falsetto’s that would have most modern R & B singers struggling. This unexpected release from High Focus is one of the finest you’ll hear this year; an enjoyable listen for anyone into Soul, Blues, Hip Hop or Gospel, from a humble vocalist that could be the UK’s answer to Bilal, and an established emcee that’s becoming a seriously accomplished producer.

Buy it digitally here, and physically here.

Peace.

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High Focus 4th Birthday

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Is this you? Are you bored? Did your exciting plans for the weekend drift away like a fart on a breeze, leaving you feeling low and distracted? High Focus can remedy that; as this Friday they’ve assembled UK Hip Hop’s finest, taking their yearly wreck up to new hedonistic heights by expanding their line-up, and finding an even larger stage to destroy at London’s Brixton Electric. After years of hard work, releasing over twenty home-grown Hip Hop classics from some of the country’s foremost MC’s; High Focus are set to celebrate their fourth year in the game, with live sets from everyone at the label, and unmissable appearances by Klashnekoff, Jehst, Buggsy, Kashmere, Children Of The Damned, Onoe Caponoe and Pete Cannon.

If there’s one thing that’ll cure your boredom and break up that crushing British work-week mundanity, it’s spending a few hours battering your ear holes with nothing but dope lyrics and heavy beats courtesy of Fliptrix and co. It’s guna be huge!

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Rescue your weekend from the doldrums & help HF continue their boom-bap, born-day tradition by getting your ticket here.

Verb T : Reverb

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Drawing primarily from his recent I Remain LP on High Focus; Reverb features a host of dope remixes of Verb T’s tunes by some of the finest beatmakers worldwide; and boasts a varied beat selection that’ll not only knock the dust off your brain after a heavy weekend of drinking/Jesus but will have you fiending to revisit the MC’s back catalogue immediately. Slovenian trio Urban Click set it off with three back to back bangers; Dawn takes a soulful stroll though one of Verb’s best tunes, with dynamic drum changes that disperse the verses and give the strings even more impact. A complete re-imagining of Lost strips the tune back to neck-snapping breaks and buoyant basslines; while their Power Within remake does the opposite, taking the original’s nebulous notes and reforming them into an up-tempo tramp that explores a maze of stuttering hi-hats as vaporous vocal chops claw at the track’s bottom end.

Jehst puts together a funky, bass-heavy remix of Sound The Alarm off the YNR-released Serious Games album; which also serves to inspire Ghost Town’s electronic arpeggio’s that back Verb’s nimble rhyme schemes on Extra Fried. Talented Glasgow-based producer Konchis backs deep bars from half of the Four Owls on Look Now, with siren-like horns that bathe the track in strobes of sound; then Pete Cannon’s OG beat gets the Leaf Dog treatment on Where You Find Me, bringing that soulful bump he’s known for, and making the song an album highlight in the process.

The self-produced Less Old Less Grumpy blends a new chorus with the original tune’s accapella over a catchy piano loop that keeps your head nodding; as does the original mix on All That Exists; which is a real interesting listen. Alternate vocal takes and a different wording on the chorus are set to a more reserved sample; with Verbs still perfecting the flow you end up hearing on the album version; providing a rare insight into the writing process that shows how much time and effort T spends when creating his tunes.

BMRN ( pronounced BoomRuin if you’re not fluent in cool kid internet linguistics ) end the LP by taking The Power Within and shifting the previously serious tone into an epic, yet sombre track that packs Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind levels of upliftment meshed with depression. For new fans looking to explore Verb T’s music Reverb is as fitting introduction as any, but for long-time listeners the real gems are found when placing the tracks into context. They show progression, and demonstrate the malleability of the man’s rhymes, as they sit comfortably on nearly any beat they’re placed upon.

Reverb came out today! You can get it for whatever price you feel, here.

4/5

Peace

Fliptrix : Out The Box

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Fuck the trendsetter, I be the peacekeeper’.

From the intricate fractal geometries that adorn Out The Box‘s cover art, to the title’s allusion to expanded awareness; it’s clear that the man with the mind behind High Focus Records isn’t shy when it comes to penning esoteric verses steeped in deep content. April sees Fliptrix re-release his 2010 project Theory Of Rhyme on double vinyl, and begin to build momentum for his forthcoming Polyhymnia album by dropping Out The Box, a new collaboration project with South London-based DJ and producer Rebs. This ill remix LP features reinterpretations of 6 of tracks taken from the essential Third Eye Of The Storm album; along with 6 new previously-unreleased songs that illustrate the change in perspective the meditative MC has undergone over recent years.

Much more than an interim release, Out The Box finds the duo devising musical remedies for the modern Hip Hop listener; with cleansing sounds that reinvent the original songs. Reb’s remix of Chemo’s haunting strings on The Storm switches your receiver, taking your perception of the content from Michael Ruppert-style harbingers of cataclysm to messages of hope in the face of adversity. Soundscapes has a similar effect, as Farma G’s bars sound out even clearer over Reb’s otherworldly piano stabs, and Fliptrix’ transcendental chorus lines emerge revitalized and renewed by the remix process. The first new track Smoke Rings is the best on the album; Reb’s simple beat is melodically fulfilling and heavy on that old boom bap stomp, while Fliptrix’s lyrical alignment with peace dominates his heartfelt delivery; with clever use of metaphor, ‘never will I be the fireplace without the coal in’  and intricate rhyme schemes; ‘twilight embarks on the dawn of reality, my thoughts spawn from a sparkle of a fractal dream, rap and beat brought together by the tractor beams, words will travel round the globe, defy gravity.’ Reb’s dub selection skills nearly top the future-garage vibes of Kontigo’s original on The Essence. With Flipz at his most honest and beats that bang this hard, the tune holds the potential to spark off your club night or accompany you on a solitary search for soul purpose, as you reflect onwhat happened to fun without drugs, and how come everyone fucks but don’t love?’ 

If you’re in the UK you probably remember Rising’s riotous rhymes on Sammy B Side’s Wordplay Mag mix a few issues ago; the tune packs party-vibes for days with short bursts of verse, and a chorus so huge it could accommodate whole families. Duppying The Style is confident and lyrically creative; with imagery and rhyme schemes that were prevalent on his first few albums, and the title track keeps things upbeat as Rebs draws from the same sample source Illinformed used for Brothers Of The Stone; with Fliptrix channelling a chorus sure to set you smashing mental boxes for fruits of wisdom like Crash Bandicoot on the hunt for apples. His references to the vibrational reality of the universe measured through cymatics and JFK as ‘the only real president’ demonstrate his skill for subtly sign-posting paths towards truth for the listener, using synchronicity-style invitations that always manifest humbly; ‘Do this for a greater reason, my divine purpose, truth hides beneath the surface when I’m writing verses, third eye alignment, vibration’s perfect, time is everything and nothing but it’s never worthless.’ Fan favourite Wylin’ Out gets a mellow make-over as energetic verses course over Reb’s oriental sounds, before Runone’s original Nothing’s Quite As It Seems reincarnates with mystic harp riffs winding through the maze of cryptic content contained in the first verse. Verb T flows slightly less obscure, with standardly clever wordplay and effortlessly inventive flow patterns that hold jewels; ‘Thoughts take strange shape like a mutant, manifest physically, some as pollutants.’

Mutantz  energetic flow crackles with anger towards the system, buffered by complicated bars that keep their underlying message simmering beneath the surface. Reb’s inventive sampling gives way to a more computerized cadence on Walk this Way, marking the only miss on an otherwise hitting LP; but still boasts a nimble verse from Bristol-based MC, Buggsy and some cool electro chatter that elevates the chorus. As the album draws to a close, the sombre sounds on Ashes To Ashes find Flipz briefly turning his attention away from the earth, and towards the more business-motivated churnings of the world; addressing the vacant state we’ve been nulled into that finds the majority ‘addicted to consumerism, purchasing to fill the void‘, then posing the poignant question ‘How come humans used to look so beautiful? now every day it’s like their dressing for a funeral, pessimistic state, grey aura in a cubicle.

The huge shift Fliptrix made from Third Eye Of The Storm‘s tentative spiritual references still somewhat mired in negativity, to an an almost ego-less cosmic consciousness on The Road To The Interdimensional Piff Highway previously seemed enough of a jump to give Graham Hancock new material; but now with Out The Box the HF figurehead has provided us that missing mental link; and more importantly created an album of hugely enjoyable songs as his spiritually-transcendent, socially prescient lyrics take residence over Reb’s mellow instrumentals.

Pre-order the album at the High Focus website here, or on itunes here in anticipation for it’s release on April 14th. Get it before the official release date by buying the Theory Of Rhyme double vinyl.

5/5

Peace.

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