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.
Si Phili and Dom Dotz are killin it right now, their work together has been solid since they linked over a year ago; but with this first full-length collab they’ve surpassed all expectations; releasing a relentless barrage of lyricism over beats from Britain’s most sought after producers. Passion Hifi’s huge beat begins Travel The Globe, with a memorable hook and an elevated word-rate. It’s no secret Si Phili has been prolific with his penmanship since he first burst onto the British rap scene, but since The Country Bumpkin’s Drunk Singing Skunk Binge, Dotz has raised his game to levels unattainable without serious work, and deserves respect for the hours he’s clearly put into his craft. We Stay bangs with a rowdy beat from Leaf Dog, inciting riotous bars from both MC’s, with Phili flowing especially slick; ‘Snatch ya medallion, with just the force of my flow, the sick spitter comin’ colder than a corpse in the snow.’
Pete Cannon brings the party vibe on Oh No, which quickly dissolves into horrorcore wordplay from the pair on Verbal Dissection; as Bad Habitz crafts a tense instrumental. Cystic’s mellow vocal chops back Flo’s haunting melodies alongside more furiously determined bars from Dotz on Inner Demons; before Blak Twang joins Phoenix Da Icefire to both destroy their verses on Lyrical Gun Slingers. Passion Hifi’s Parliament synths miss the mark on the G-funk influenced Get Back; but Cystic’s chilled accordion loops reset the course on Rise Of The Sceptic, as Dotz juxtaposes western complacency with world struggle; ‘selfies in the mirror tell a lot about your vanity, with money for a bottle, not a penny for a charity’. Leaf Dog’s rhymes stack clever metaphor over hazy horn loops on Let Ya Mind Breathe; whilst Pete Cannon’s psychedelic sitar samples wind around clanging bells blessed by breakneck bars on War Dance; before the album’s second single Training For battle Rap brings in the LP’s final stretch with a display of lyrical dexterity that had me rewinding to catch it all.
Passion Hifi drops a dynamic beat for The Rhyme Assignment‘s stern tones, while Phili’s political roots shine through his dissident lyricism on Fuck The Government; and Illest Rocks stands out for it’s top-class features. Dotz spits ‘iller than six million kilowatts’, Verb T encompasses esoteric ideas as easily as he offers elegant metaphor; Klashnekoff scripts another flawless verse that reminds of his razor-sharp darts on his essential Sagas Of début, Wordsmiff pulls no punches, and Leaf Dog ends this epic with vivid simile’s. As Golden Fingers plays the album out with honest parting words from PND; there’s no denying this début alliance between two of the UK battle scene’s strongest voices has held it down for the whole country. For fans already up on the British music scene Phil N The Dotz is what you’ve been waiting for. If anyone you know isn’t into UK Hip Hop, send them a copy asap after buying two for yourself.
Illinformed’s instrumentals have backed raps on last year’s Brothers Of The Stone LP, BVA’s Be Very Aware, NLP’s Free Your Mind, and his Stupid Poignant Sh!tcollab with Children Of The Damned’s Lee Scott; His previous More Weed Money and Bottom Of The Bag beats tapes both knocked hard; and his third release is no different. Continuing this series of instrumentals motivated by marijuana, Stay Sedated picks up right where the last tape left off, but with yet another huge leap in the young producer’s progression.
Heavy soul swims through clean breaks and punchy drums throughout, with a polished sound cleaner than anything you’ve heard from him so far, but doesn’t compromise the warm sound or smooth sample choices that have made his last projects so listenable. After a strong start with Everything and a single, perfect loop on Ants;Toe Nail‘s jazz intro slows the mood, before the inebriated swing the producer has perfected returns as lumbering kicks knock under inventive vocal cuts. Dumb Wise swaggers with a big-band strut, whileDuckets practically cries out for a verse from the RLD camp with it’s upbeat horns. One Ten combines a smooth intro with jarring strings, flowing back into more chilled, head-nod territory on Basically; leaving End‘s hype soul chops to build anticipation for the next time Illinformed puts out another chunk of the instrumental mountain he must be sitting on.
Get Stay Sedated here, and if you’re an MC, check his beats for sale here.
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!
Rescue your weekend from the doldrums & help HF continue their boom-bap, born-day tradition by getting your ticket here.