It’s only been a few months since Cappo, Jazz T and Zygote dropped the Boot EP, and already their ill originals have been blessed with remixes from some of the UK’s finest producers. Telemachus, Jehst, Mr Brown and Sam Zircon all get creative with Cappo’s versatile rhymes, forming stylistically individual tracks that all retain an unmistakeably British sliver of grimness.
Telemachus starts with a stealthy re-imagining of Yul Brynner that blooms on a melodic hook before quickly shrinking back into the bass-driven shadows of the brooding verses, while Mr Brown loops a dusted break under dramatic stabs with a gritty low-end groove on Kitted Out. High Plains Drifter and YNR Productions head honcho Jehst assembles a spaced-out instrumental as Cappo spits ‘that raw, un-programmable Orson Welles shit’ on Out Of Your Mind, before Sam Zircon closes out this dope EP with another clandestine jazz flip, stacking subtle vibraphones next to menacing keys as Tree Frog sneaks through your speaker.
Skrabl’s been steadily smashing mics since his 2011 album Board Of The Game. His last release, 2013’s Same You Different Me was a slick blend of soulful boom-bap and intense rhymes, and with his new LP Life Through Kaleidoscope Eyes the Essex emcee has upped his lyrical levels a step further. Once the epic title track sets things off and Skrabl tries ‘to find balance in these tightrope times’, Oozhe swirls flute melodies around intricate couplets on Underdog, while Wise Words serves up more rawness; demonstrating the skill with which this rapid rhymer blends dexterous verses with well-written hooks.
The early Mud Fam steez of Acidic Phlegm alongside the melodic soul samples of Baton Down The Hatches both find him writing more massive choruses, then venting his frustrations while seeking positive change through furiously impassioned flows on Glass Dreams and Lose Sight. As the album winds down and Oppenheimer scripts planetary demise through a grim cadence, it’s clear that Skrabl’s honesty lends Life Through Kaleidoscope Eyes it’s wider perspective, one that looks past the everyday mundanity of British living to reflect the humanity underneath.
The man behind De Facto Entertainment and the instrumentals on the recent Raw Product banger Supplying The Demand has just dropped a fresh batch of home-cooked beats. A chilled, jazz-heavy release, Sling me Down finds Stealf putting in the hours on his MPC60 and S950, creating sounds that shift mood on each tune as he draws from a wide selection of sample sources. Brookyln’s Autumn begins with a catchy horn loop and swinging drums, Carbonated Daze breaks it down with dusted snares and mellow flutes, LordBarrington‘s clean string chops dip between funky guitars, and the dynamic jazz flips on Palm Reading provide head-nods for days.
After the memorable vocal hooks of the title track dissolve into punchy kicks on stand-out track The Day Before, Stealf switches it up once again on the stop-start styles of Trans-Atlantic Cousins, then rounds out this concise release by getting loose with the snare hits on the rugged low-end bounce of Wax Works. Both a fitting intro to the De Facto sound and an exciting taste of what’s to come, Sling Me Down marks off another solid release for the ever-expanding UK label as they push their creativity while staying rooted in the Golden Era sound.
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.