Album Reviews

  • Album Review: Caustic Yoda - Mutant Beats

    Album Review: Caustic Yoda - Mutant Beats

    Caustic Yoda - Mutant Beats

    There's a saying they use when describing the vast pool of musicians in the Blue Mountains Hip Hop scene, 'There must be something in the water.' If this is the case then Caustic Yoda's studio must be built on an ancient spring. Caustic Yoda is a multi instrumentalist, beatmaker, turntablist, producer, visual artist and percussionist from the heart of The Blue Mountains.

    Caustic Yoda Live

    The Producer behind one of my favourite bands Cooking With Caustic, one half of the instrumentalist band GORO along with Waza, also the beatmaker/producer behind the politically charged and consciously hard hitting Hip Hop group Bomb Threat, a member of one of the mountains most well known original Hip Hop groups Two Toes, the beatmaker/producer behind Scratches Records recent signing Otherside among many other artistic ventures including mixing and mastering most of your favourite Hip Hop albums from the state.

    Caustic Yoda has a sound and a reputation in the industry, a reflection of decades of work.
    With all this under his belt its surprising to think that this latest album Mutant Beats is Caustic's first ever solo venture.

    The album has been described as Minimal Organic Boom Bap, which really helps give you an idea of what Yoda is known for.
    His sound is very analogue, rich and earthy. It has body, and a lot of the organic sound comes from Caustic Yoda's hands on approach to beat making. That's hands on literally, as both a drummer and a beat creator Caustic Yoda makes his sounds using live finger drumming on a drum machine, synths and playing percussion. He's not the sort of cat I often see with a loop or carefully constructed sample on a computer monitor, he's a live unquantised producer, both on stage and in the studio.

    Caustic Yoda Mpc 2500

    His studio is filled with instruments of percussion, pianos, turntables, heavy cassette players, vintage arcade machines and keyboards that look like they were lifted straight from the bridge of The Starship Enterprise.

    When I last visited his studio we went out the back to where he is hand printing the sleeves for his records. The walls and floor covered in oil paintings he's working on and cover designs.
    Caustic Yoda is a passionate and humble cat who creates works reflecting not only an expression or narrative, but also a personal take on what music means to him, and nowhere is this more clearly articulated than on his new album.

    Mutant Beats is an album with a rich fidelity. It has a nourishing sound and is beautifully spaced and each instrument and rhythm given time and room to breathe.Caustic Yoda's beats sound human, the kicks and snares have character and I've always been a fan of Yoda's ability to swing. The BPM is slow and smooth, very Blue Mountains.

    If you're lucky enough to pick up the vinyl I can't recommend it enough to get that A side B side experience out of the track list, as well as hearing the music the way it was intended.

    Caustic Yoda Studio

    Stand out tracks for me are Test Patterns, Anti-matter, and the stunning song Xtapolapocetl which in my opinion is the peak of the B side to Mutant Beats. (I have it on good authority that the closing song Juno Landing is dedicated to his dog.)

    I asked Caustic Yoda about the album and he told me it's not a record that's really meant to demand your attention, it is an exercise in minimalism to create whole songs while still leaving space.
    He told me Mutant Beats has been a handmade project from start to finish and seeing how he works in the studio I couldn't think of a better way of describing it.

    You can get the album on vinyl, CD, cassette (limited) or as a digital download here.

    And of course you can find Caustic Yoda on all streaming services and social media to stay up to date with releases and see him live in concert. Peace.

    Words By Mighty Ash



     
  • Album Review! Jygantix - Dangerous Goods and Services

    Album Review! Jygantix - Dangerous Goods and Services

    Jygantix Dangerous Goods And Services Front Cover

     

    The tone of this album is set right out of the gate. A dark, raw story of the falsehood of our monetary idols and a journey into the underworld. I like to think you can tell when an emcee produces their own work, it brings an autobiographical flavour to both the sound and the subject matter.

    The production on this album is on point, a dope collection of mid 70 to 80 bpm thick boom bap kicks and snares with melodic and sometimes eerie samples. The compositions echo the sounds of West Coast underground with a smoothness and sometimes beautiful sound coupled with a venomous edge brought with a sharp West Syd hardcore swagger.

    This album has a narrative which is witty, sceptical, thuggish and reflective and covers ground on honesty, rebellion, passion, manhood and a global perspective on class warfare. The stories told are street, with an atmosphere to match. Deep sounds metamorphosis between consciousness, up beat flows and gangster landmarks. Jygantix is a story teller and this album is a series of stories that all come from the same book, a concept album for both its originality and familiarity.

    The music casts shadows of golden era, early reality rap and straight up boom bap, with DJ Intense on turntables mastering the cadence and energy adding a sharp blade to the dark percussion creating new melodies and rhythms. Jygantix wears his influences on his sleeve with several tips of the hat to O.G artists.

     

     

    He spits his lyrics with a sharp west side edge speaking of the loss of hope faced with earned responsibility, while pulling back the curtain on the world we know. Jygantix has the tone of seasoned lyricist. There’s a confident, weight on the shoulder style to his chamber with a righteous maturity and emotional commitment. You can tell this album has been a labour of love.

    I asked Jygantix what this release means to him.

    "Dangerous Goods & Services pretty much sums up everything that has happened in my life over the past 6 years of me being an MC. Dangerous Goods & Services has been my life for the last 2 1/2 years. Long days & long nights, literally blood, sweat & tears. At times I felt like throwing it all away but something told me to keep going and going which I'm glad I did. I had a lot of fun making this project from learning how to make beats, to making the beats and writing all the verses. It has been a big learning curve which I'm forever grateful for. I've learnt a lot about the industry, how everything works, I've learnt a lot about other people and even myself. I hope you enjoy it as much I do!"

    The album also features Chris Cynical and Aztec Flow on Play This Record, a laid back hypnotic track with sporadic vocals speaking of love and dedication to hip hop. Nuggy Gee appears on Story to Tell, a biography of reflection and hard yards over a thudding head nod beat with the pacing of heavy machinery. Jake Mack appears on Dammmm, one of the fattest tracks with a murderous piano and lurking low end with Mack's poetry painting vivid and dangerous narratives. The appearance of El Jistos on Now You Know was such a pleasure, he never fails to deliver a high standard of tongue in cheek rap styles mixed with philosophical lyrics. What begins with a funky wit soon builds into an enlightened rant on the desperate need to uplift ourselves and each other. El Jistos adds to the West Syd feel of this album bringing it closer to home.

    Stand out track for me is Scarred, a deep break down of character to a funeral march stomp.

    Its obvious Jygantix had a vision with this album and his articulation is strong. The theme doesn’t stray once its set its course, it remains hip hop throughout. It's raw and it’s well conceived.

    Words By Mighty Ash

     

    Download Jygantix - Dangerous Goods and Services here for free.

    Keep up to date with Jygantix here.

    Jygantix Facebook

    Jygantix YouTube 

     
  • Album Review: Crooked White – Confessions LP

    Album Review: Crooked White – Confessions LP

    Australian Hip Hop Artist Crooked White

    Crooked White – Confessions LP

     

    Confessions is the newest release to drop from Brisbane MC and vocalist Crooked White. The Cairns FNQ raised talent is also the front man for Schoolfight and long time hook man for Triple3. This album showcases the variously titled MC's strengths as a solo artist, effortlessly flowing between gruff verses, to singing catchy and polished choruses, to sharing his insight and personality through the tracks.

    The album is a definitely a party record. As smooth and shiny as it is, it is also, very gritty. It has a nice balance between a "commercial" melodic sound and being downright crass and rude. It has the exuberant humour and brash attitude that acts such as Funkoars bring the table. The type of music to play loudly whilst cleaning your house or having a few drinks with friends. That leads one to the assumption that these tracks would also translate very well live.

    Crooked White has a gruff rough emcee style. His voice has various shades of colour, and he pitches his verses as a rapper very well, often a more overlooked thing that emcees don't take on board. His lyrics are very sarcastic and funny, but he also shares a lot of his personality through them. His singing is on point. Even though I'm more of a fan of chorus cuts as opposed to choruses, all of these hooks are exceptionally well delivered, and pitched nicely. He is joined on "Vibe On" by Masterwolf, and "Crooked" by 7ravesty333 who both contribute dope pieces to the project.

    Overall, the album plays beautifully back to back, with no skippable tracks, although a little light and shade for dynamics would help break the album up a little more. That being said, this album is superbly produced by Aussie Ozborn, every track is a banger, and has a big boom bap sound, with heavy melodies. His beats set the tone of the whole project, and has nice elements of soul, funk embedded in the resin of the songs. 

    The albums biggest strengths are overall vocal performance and production, but perhaps the albums greatest strength is the mix/master by Cris Stevens Federal Audio. It is very professional and extremely well-polished and enhances the already well-developed structure of beats and vocals.

    This album is solid, and a great long player that you don't have to skip a single song and satisfies the musical sensibilities of a positive record. Radio play with this one, you would think is a no-brainer. It has a 'radio' sound to it, but that is not said in a negative way, as it still pays dues to the elements and represents Hip-Hop culture in a good way. It is an impressive effort from a talented vocalist, and a collaborative effort of talented individuals.

    Watch Crooked White 'Put It On Me' Below!

     

     

    Crooked White's new album drops this Friday April 11th 2018

     
  • Album Review: Helen Earth – Hell Hath No Fury

    Album Review: Helen Earth – Hell Hath No Fury

    Helen Earth - Hell Hath No Fury

    Queensland emcee Helen Earth creeps out the fiery underworld with her debut album Hell Hath No Fury, taking no prisoners and cementing herself as one of the most technical and raw female emcees in this country. The viciousness and energy that she projects is ferocious, also her ability to change up her tone and knowledge of her vocal range is usually not present on someone’s first LP, so I find this project very impressive.

    This album continues the winning streak from Shake Down, every release they have distributed has been on point. Originally from Perth, Helen chooses the best in the west to handle the mixing, cuts and master, Rob Shaker, and as usual he does a phenomenal job on that front.

    The album starts with an intro, with a well selected pitched down sample from the movie “The Network” you know you’re in for something good. Then Sun Tzu…. Haha, raw as f. She has an extremely flowy and aggressive style. Every verse she delivers has exceptional bite and ferocity. Aggressive and unapologetic, she rips and blisters through her verses, but does so in a musical way, and her lyrics are intelligent. Sometimes she is ruthless and crass and sounds downright evil, other times she is veracious, and delivers wordy verbose lyrics which you can tell come from a complex, wise individual. The topic matter in this album is vast, so it makes it hard to comment on, but variety in tracks is what makes it an enjoyable long player.

    Production is handled by a lot of different contributors but still has a cohesive sound. Helen does a good job of delivering on every track which adds to that glue between tracks, but it is also a reflection of good beat selection. She has some crazy beats from Matt Rafle, AussieOzBorn, Truth One, Sinks, Uncle Sam, Breath and Rob Shaker. It has a heavy boom bap 90’s flavour, inside the beats and flows. Shadz and Breath contribute dope verses to the project, but Helen does not rely on any other emcees, she is brutal on all the tracks, casually tearing each song a new arsehole.

    Some people will obviously have criticisms, it is the nature of doing something original, and how raw boom bap is a forgotten art form for the most part, but this album is extremely dope, and Helen Earth is my new favourite female emcee in this country. I can imagine Rob Shaker would have had an interesting time mixing this one, as she has the aggressive tones that cut through the beat the way Kogz does. You can tell this is one of the albums seldom created, when a collaborative team just gets everything right. Can’t recommend this one enough.

    Favourite tracks: Sun Tzu, The Handmaid’s Rhymes, In Situ, Rappers Suck and Quote This.

    Grab your copy of Helen Earth - Hell Hath No Fury here.

    Words By Lani Milbus

     
  • Album Review: Flu - Fludust

    Album Review: Flu - Fludust

    Fludust

    Starting this review has caused much trepidation, mainly due to the multifaceted and complex nature of the writing displayed within this LP, it’s as though somehow I want the review’s intricacy to reflect how crazy Flu’s writing is, but alas, the music speaks for itself, and nothing I write does this album justice.

    The return of your favourite anti-hero, Flu, delivers his finest work to date. The acclaimed genius, is considered by many to be one of the best emcees in the country, so it should disquiet many that he has once again levelled up, taking his signature elaborate styles to a level we’ve yet to see in full form. The latest release is as unsafe as it is enjoyable to listen to. Entirely self-produced by Flu and mixed by Crate Cartel member Phil Gektor, it’s an incredible solo effort on Flu’s behalf. It is also a reflection of how good Phil is getting on his mixing work as well, he does a phenomenal job.

    Dust is a chessboard, each beat the opposing player, every line a significant move of each piece. Every piece of imagery and content puts you in check and before you’ve thought of an escape route, he has once again put you under check once again. The level of lyricism is hard to describe. It’s layered, sarcastic, cavernous, original and super poignant. Double entendres, double meanings, heavy metaphors and innuendo all twist the brain into a pretzel knot, making each line sink in subconsciously before the conscious mind can comprehend the layers to each line.

    Dark, moody, atmospheric and dusty describe the album’s soundscape. Some tracks hit you hard in the mental, some hit you hard in the heart, others are hype stomping tracks. If you purchase this album in hopes of a “feel good”, positive, party record, then you will be seriously disappointed. If you’re after an album, with depth, production value, reflective songs, dark, complex themes, incredible finesse and unfathomable lyricism, you will be unassumingly impressed. The ambiguity of some lines are brilliant. The best example of this complexity, treacherous style is the track “Pay Dirt” where he blisters through some incredible lines, over a heavy slow banger.

    The only thing I can find wrong with this release is that its only 10 tracks deep. However, the quality of the tracks just leave you scratching that itch that he leaves you with, needing the next fix.

    The album has some impressive features including Fashawn, Has-Lo, Phil Gektor & Shirt, and they all bring their weight to each track. Flu is a super heavyweight on each track including the features, but the tracks that pertain to me the most are the ones when he is rocking solo. Songs such as Anti-Hero, Kerkovian, Pay Dirt & Operation: DUSTLAUD are stand outs for me, with Flu flexing his superior styles & panache over each self-produced masterpiece. The one stand out track to me that just hits the chills, Phantom Cloak is inconceivably relatable. Too many great lyrics to quote, but every line is well-crafted and is delivered from a perspective of wisdom and solemness. The beat is understanding and wraps you up in its unassuming arms. In a cookie cutter world, this song is unapologetically swimming against the current. Having a code over all the bullshit basically.

    Flu has not released much previous production work, but this album is extremely well crafted, abstract and original. This album is a breath of fresh air, and stands alone as one of the best self-produced and rapped albums to drop in recent years. It has to be in the top 3 releases of 2017, and if you disagree, you need to listen to music more intently.

    Disclaimer: this article was written in awe and appreciation of the craft of emceeing displayed, and in no way is trying to “sell” this album to the reader. It meekly tries to give it the respect it truly deserves, and has been an article that has taken months to write.

    Words By Lani Milbus

     
  • Album Review: Claz - The Beautiful Distraction

    Claz - The Beautiful Distraction

    Claz – The Beautiful Distraction

    June 14th saw the release of “The Beautiful Distraction,” the debut L.P from Adelaide’s own Claz. It’s the third release from the ill young talent, having previously released “Living In The Meantime E.P” and 2016’s extremely well received “7th Floor Blues” mixtape.
    The Beautiful Distraction” is Claz’s finest and most professional work to date, no surprise Hau has picked it up as a feature album on JJJ.

    Claz has an original voice that characterizes his signature delivery. Super relaxed, silky smooth tones with mad panache. He could literally say anything on a track and it would sound fresh. “Easy on the ears, hard on the brain,” pretty much sums his style up. Even though he has one of those gifted voices, he shares himself, his thoughts about life, politics, so whilst being pleasing to the ear, it’s relatable and stimulates the brain. Claz has the ability to be supremely successful commercially, so it’s refreshing to hear he is bridging the gap between that “sound” but with integrity, relevant lyrics, and dope flows (which, to add to an already convoluted & overly opinionated sentence, is what the scene needs.)

    Most of the beats are really slow, either low-fi, ultra-swing boom bap, or analogy-sounding trap beats, which match Claz’s unperturbed style perfectly. It features a list of lesser-known producers (to me) but are good quality and match Claz perfectly. A couple of beats I wasn’t feeling, but one cannot deny that they were well-produced, and the incredible job Claz did with each track. His beat selection was perfect, as there was a different producer on every track, yet the album has a very cohesive feel, and synchronicity.

    As music is intensely vibrational, diverse and layered, the author of the article can only find meagre accolades in comparison to what you can get from each album he reviews, so the main argument I have for this release is: just go and listen to it, support independent artists walking in their own lane with skill. “The Beautiful Distraction,” from all of life’s stress, qualms and bullshit. Claz definitely seems like an artist that does this as a way of extracting his inner thoughts and expressing himself with intelligence, but has the musical sensibilities to make impressive tunes.

    The album’s strongest attribute (many may disagree, fuck ya aha) is the mix/master by K21, and the tracking by Prospeks too. Claz is an incredible artist, and his voice is what makes the mix so good in the first place. What K21 has done with the project is incredible. Keeping the main vocals mostly dry of reverb in a lot of tracks, and utilising delay, particularly on the back-up vocals is what makes Claz sharp & crisp on this type of production. His use of saturation is perfect, his approach on each beat is different depending on the instrumental and what he does matches/builds on the track’s dynamics and structure. The master is boss, everything is crispy, warm and bassy. A lot more could be said about the strengths of this mixing/mastering, but to keep it short, young aspiring engineers, and experienced ones could take a lesson from this album and K.

    Such a solid release, and an impressive effort by everyone who contributed to it. It isn’t Rap, or Hip-Hop, R ‘n B, or Soul for that matter. It simply is good music, but for anyone in doubt, Claz is a dope rapper, and great songwriter too. His multies’ are always on point, tight flow, impressive delivery and voice, relatable shit. Definitely an album to roll up at 4:20 ya’ll.

    Favourite tracks: Lost It, Mama I’m Home, The Beautiful Distraction, August & Breathe

    Words by Lani Milbus

     
  • Album Review: Flu - FTIBAG

    Fluent Form - FITBAG

    F#ck This I’m Buying A Gun

    This film/album is monumental. Full stop. If the writer of this article attempted to foolishly describe this release in full detail, then he would be a beardly man with many a forgotten dream.

    FTIBAG is so layered, textured and brilliant. It is the sort of film that surreptitiously works on all of your senses. In many ways the beauty lies in the simplicity of it. In many others the complexity, attention to detail and brain power behind the project is breathtaking and is the cornerstone of what make this so damn good.

    I mean fucking hell. You would be a very sour, blind, deaf and heartless person to not realise the craftmanship that was put into this project, even if you didn’t like Hip-Hop, or even if you had no musical sensibilities. This is pure art, the type of thing many of us live and breathe for, the type of thing that does move mountains, and has a positive impact on the world around us.

    As afore mentioned, the dexterity and abyss-like depth to this release has made it difficult to decide where or how to start describing this masterpiece. So basically I'm going to break a few elements down and focus on what each of these talented beings have brought to the table. I'ma start with the star of the show - Flu:

    Highly and undeniably underrated, the man, Flu aka Fluent Form has been a top tier rapper for a long time. From Chapters Of Substance all the way through to Flu Season and everything in between, one can see the journey of progression this MC has taken. FTIBAG sees Flu step arguably into the prime of his career. Littered with brilliance, multi-syllabic flows, metaphors, layered thoughts and a storyline that only too well describes the struggle of an Australian Hip-Hop artist, he is so on point with this one. Musically he has found the balance of tone, lyrics and delivery to the point where you see every dope stage of his progression all rolled into some Super Flu Sayian 4 or some shit. The content written is so close to his heart, you can feel the weight in the things that are being said, you feel the emotion and you identify this within yourself. It is the unspoken anthem for the masses of independent artists out there, that struggle, that have perfected their craft but aren’t seeing the success that those with less craftmanship are getting. The artists that do struggle with the emotions, pressure and the stress that goes along with following your dreams. Even though I have upmost praise for his work on this, I still think Flu Season is his best rapping performance, hard to top though. The storyline is conceptually well-written, and is quite easy to follow even without the video to go with it.

    Phil Gektor:
    Entirely composed by Crate Cartel chief Geko, FTIBAG is some of his best work. Elements of Crate Cartel, Crate Cartel Radio and his newer works all merge into one awesome soundscape. It’s definitely aimed towards more of a movie score than an album per say, but still holds its own as a Hip-Hop album. The dusty retro samples, interludes, crunchy drum breaks, abstract noises, all contribute to the ominous and foreboding musical landscape which compliments Flu and the theme of the release. The strongest connection I had with the beats is the familiarity of the production to the original Geko Crate Cartel album, and a similarity towards his production on Flu Season, ie Fan Mail. The sounds suit Flu so well and is meticulously crafted, so busy is some bits, sometimes stripped right back. The mix and master on the album is very well balanced between the retro, dusty vibe and a crisp clean new sound and has high sonic quality. Dark, moody and baroque, it’s a beautifully crafted album. Phil Gektor also makes a guest appearance on the album under the guise of the gun dealer, which helps break up the vocals at an important part in the music.

    Discourse & Carl Alison
    The strongest point of this release in my opinion is the filmography. I don’t really know much about the technical aspects of this work, but I do identify when something is of very high calibre. To which this film categorizes itself, painfully hard to think of anything that been done exactly like this in Australia, but it would be a fair opinion to say this some of the finest filmography to come out in the local scene. Discourse does an incredible job handling all the editing and filming the majority of it, no doubt countless hours spent. Known for his quality and body of work, this falls short of no expectation. Carl adds another dimension with his amazing drone and gimble shots, which intensifies the “movie” experience. The angles, locations, shots, lighting are all amazing. The shot techniques have been used perfectly, each “special” shot is used sparingly giving is a revived, refreshing feel. There’s heaps of amazing shots, but nothing is overused or played out. The synchronicity between the music and film is amazing, everything rolls perfectly into place and hits at the perfect time. I love the locations that have been used ala Grumpy’s, the streetscapes, the product placement (nice work Discourse haha.) The combination between Carl Alison & Discourse lends itself some powerful ramifications, pure art executed through visuals. So many things are communicated, not said, through the videography which I think is what makes it so awesome to watch, the attention to detail is phenomenal. Underqualified to “break down” the elements of video, the writer makes no claim in value of opinion on the matter, but quite simply put, this is brilliant. Just go and fucking watch it alright?

    Before I conclude the review I would like to take the time to offer some critique/ other things I enjoyed in the album. I don’t think it would be fair to write a review for this (with such high praise) without picking a few things out. The only two things which I didn’t like, was the slight overuse of the octave down vocal (even though I do understand its part of the unique sound of the album) and the narration. I think even without the video, the listener should be able to follow the storyline without any narration. That being said, it may be what tells the story in the album format. For the film however I think it’s unnecessary to have narration in it, as the picture tells a thousand words.

    I love the subtle humour throughout the film. There is an obvious amount of “in jokes” from the Cartel collective, but there is a lot, from the names to the subtle appearance from the crew that put a smile on the face. The acting is top notch. The star of the show, Flu, does an amazing job. A steely glint in his eyes in every shot, facial expression and actions are all so well co-ordinated. He communicates such a disparity of emotion, but especially the desperation of his character. I love all the work from the other cast members and extras, every one of them having a great “look” for the movie, everyone contributing a significant piece each to this project - great job Crate Cartel & affiliates.

    Overall this album is worthy of a lot of praise, and one that will stand the test of time in say 20-30 years. It touches on a very important subject in suicide. A subject often overlooked and taboo to be spoken about, and one that has had a huge impact on the Oz Hip-Hop scene. It is a powerful and positive message brought into the spotlight. (There seems to be a big social shift in the last few years in raising awareness to it.) As the pressures of life and music can weigh heavy, and a lot of emotional and physical effort not to mention the money invested into yourself can be downright painstaking, there can be a correlation between music and life that can bring a person’s emotional state right down. This album touches on exactly that, ironically seeing the “Suicide Kings” team up in Geko & Flu. Locally relevant, I think the album does touch on the struggle that indie artists go through. The somewhat snobby, jaded opinions of a lot of the scene. The early years of this Oz culture was so community based, so loving and embracing, and there is a huge element of this which still exists, but there is a lot of ego and jealousy that is also predominant. I see a lot of people struggling like ScrewFace Bane, and sometimes I wonder about the emotional stability of these individuals. If anyone is reading this, and is struggling, just know it is ok to talk about it. Don’t put all your hopes and dreams into one facet of your life. It is all about balance and being happy within the person you are, to quote the great Prowla “it’s not who you rock in the scene, rather who you are in between.” In a fairly judgemental scene, sometimes others opinions/prejudices can bring you down, but others opinions mean very little in your “big picture.” If you are happy within yourself and your work, then that is the greatest gratification you will receive from your art. Having the support and praise of your peers is important, although not necessary, so remember to always give respect or props where it’s due, you can’t understand the impact that can have on upcoming or “struggling” artists, whether it’s musically or emotionally.

    Overall this a classic release every Hip-Hop head should see, musical cinema at a very high level. It may not be up everyone’s alley, but is definitely perfect for anyone who appreciates real art. This review is blatantly gushing, but it’s definitely a release that’s deserving of such. One could hope for a larger platform for it be played, I would love to sit in a movie theatre and watch this.

    For fans of: Crate Cartel, Melbourne hip-hop, art, filmography, social-awareness and techy flow rap imagery with a message.

    Words by Lani Milbus.

     
  • Album Review: Context - Rogue Astronaut EP

    Australian Hip Hop Context - Rogue Astronaut Context - Rogue Astronaut EP Cover

    Boom bap. It’s a phrase used loosely in this astrological age. Context & Jimmy Flipshyt are names synonymous with the genre. Transmitting their dusty frequencies through the stratosphere for what a mere mortal may perceive as thousands of Earth days, it’s fair to say they have been making noise in Melbourne for quite some time now. A trio of quality Ep’s saw the duo gain rotation on Triple J and supports for touring acts (R.A. The Rugged Man, High Focus Records, P.Smurf, Dialectrix etc)

    This release is quality. Full Stop. That’s my review done. One would only be gushing to find adjectives appropriate for this. Rogue Astronaut is classic, purist Hip-Hop. Under the guise of Joe Syzlak, the release is primarily produced by Context, heavy mid 90’s vibes permeating the whole release. Obviously refined, the production skill is top notch, the drums tight, punchy and dusty. With the addition of a beat each from Boxtrumental & Jimmy Flipshyt this is an exquisitely crafted record. To speak on the vocals could only be a meagre attempt to accolade what can only be described as a story. You have to listen to it front to back with all the art and you can see what the “rapper” aka author is doing. With tight, multi-syllable, pocket flows Context labourlessly (I just made that word up) sweeps over the beats with his coarse, warm and nasally tones. His style comparatively simlar to Leaf Dog (High Focus) and Dandenong heavyweight Never Settle

    I’ll start from the start of the album but conceptually you could view this project in a different order. I’ll get into that later.

    1. Rogue Astronaut (Intro)

    Vinyl crackle, dusty sample, transmitter frequencies, tight swing drums, launching into the sky, this track starts on some intergalactic space writer shit. Context’s flow on this is so dope, some of his best on the release. Buick finishes the track off right with chirps and tight space noise cuts. A great way to kick off the album, it sounds like ya roll a little something to get warmed up if ya know what I mean. Chill back, expand and enjoy the journey.

    2. Piss Me Off

    This track is produced by Boxtrumental. Bangin’ beat, the saloon style piano and horns have that “big” boom bap sound. The track essentially entails the thoughts of a jaded arsehole haha. It is the purist mind state, Context is letting you know all the things that piss him off. Sarcastic and humorous this tracks is flowy and enjoyable. Clever track placement.

    3. Trouble

    Back to Joe Syzlak production. Classic 90’s style samples. Real nice choice and taste in sounds for the production. Vocals are real dry and raspy, combine that with the rapid fire delivery and fresh mix-down, this track is well polished, with a dusty sound. Cuts by Jimmy Flipshyt are killer, wicked selection of vocal samples. This tracks a bit of fun.

    4. Interlude

    Ill interlude, one of the best beats on the album. The samples give it a Honeymoon On Mars feel.

    5. Jazz Man

    One of those beats that Kool G Rap would sound good on. Not to detract from Context. This one is chilled out and somewhat of a narrative. Sick instrumental from Jimmy Flipshyt, the gel with the beat and vocals is nice. The Canberra landed, Melbourne residing rapper is his most melodic on this one, nice to hear a bigger range from him. At this point in the first listen as a listener you know this release is quality. Context is a talented rapper with a unique voice and style.

    6. Route 11

    As suggested in the intro, you could listen to this ep in a different way. These last two tracks have conceptual film clips on Youtube so you could essentially watch “The Landing” then “Route 11” then play the ep from the start (that being said you could check it out in any order, the album is so cohesive). These clips are cinematic and explain the “Rogue Astronaut” theme.

    Context conceptualized the ideas for it and teamed up with Dayne Edward to produce what are two amazing clips.

    As for this track, it’s the standout track of the release to me. My favourite beat, so moody dark, clean and dirty. Head nodding flow, clear concise delivery. Beat change up about a minute or so into the track keeps you on your toes and only deepens the heart thudding connection to the instrumental. Buick holds down the cuts, an awesome way to finish the track.

    7. The Landing

    This is an excellent clip, it is exciting, weird and sets the tone for the whole release (the author could have a whole separate review for the clip itself.) Fat, punchy, live drums and nice sample. Strung out rhythmic flows, solid tone delivery, this is one of Context’s best performances. The cuts entail “Smooth Crash Landing” from Fliptrix (if not already familiar with that album, one doesn’t appreciate the significance of that particular theme) Great selection from Jimmy Flipshyt, very tasteful. The extra sample at the end and studio snippets close the album perfectly.

    After a few rotates, this Ep grows on you immensely. It has a variety of different styles and textures, not too much of this, not too much of that. At first it seems like the vocals need a bit more air in the mix but after a few listens you realize the mix is in that perfect pocket, not too loud, not too quiet. The master by L-Rox at Redsecta is dope, the whole thing bangs. Overall this is a solid release worthy of astronomical praise, limited to cassette and digital, it’s a cult conceptual release. Not many people do that sort of stuff anymore.

    For fans of: Leaf Dog, Must Volkoff, Never Settle, underground Melbourne, dusty crate, Pleiadian type Hip-Hop

    Words by Lani Milbus.

    Context - Rogue Astronaut EP is available now for free download!

     
  • Raw Intelligence by Graphic (an interactive experience)

     

    graphic

    ‘Raw Intelligence’ delivers a stern warning for our futures and for the futures of our children. Not since The Herd’s ‘77%’ has Australian hip-hop experienced such a slamming indictment of geopolitics and the pain of its toil on home soil.

    From Graphic:

    This project TAKES AIM at a range of topics. Looking with the power of FIVE EYES, no MERCY is demonstrated when addressing the concept of economic BOOM STATES. WITHOUT HESITATION, it shows that a HANDS OFF approach to the world’s problems will lead to a failed future so clear you can PICTURE THIS. As the BOMBS RAIN across the planet, we COME ON to subject matter that has been at the core of our existence from the GET GO. LOADED with many QUESTIONS and voiced in lyrical PROTEST, RAW INTELLIGENCE sparks thought and seeks to SET IT OFF amongst readers and listeners, fueling the argument that the only hope for third world countries is to BURN A DEBT.

    Perth MC, Graphic from the hip-hop outfit Clandestien has presented ‘Raw Intelligence’ as less of a rap album and more an inventive design to project a purposeful awareness of pressing global threats through hip-hop and disseminated through a more stimulating medium than the confines of just complementing a dope beat. This interactive experience allows for listeners to turn reader and follow the MC through the pages of an eBook divided into tracks with links embedded into the accompanying lyrics. Taking it to a geopolitical level, the point and purpose of ‘Raw Intelligence’ is illustrated in a broader context, bringing to surface the pattern of totalitarian corruption, human rights breaches and transgressions of first world foreign policy over 14 tracks. Graphic’s flow is consistent through each beat, delivering strong sentiment without losing step to his rap which includes hashing out a more suitable Australian anthem on the pre-released track ‘Boom State’. This is still the same Graphic, well known for his work on Clandestien releases.

    Graphic Raw Intelligence, Australian Hip Hop, Aussie Hip Hop, Ozhiphop, Ozhiphopshop, Australian Rap

    Behind the message, the production is a framework built around upbeats and varied shining samples providing for the horns blowing dulcet notes through ‘Five Eyes’ and the plentiful soul’d out hooks on ‘Without Hesitation’ and ‘Mercy’. The finely-tweaked xylophone scaling on the ‘Hands Off’ demonstrates the album’s production, constructed with acute detail courtesy of Syllabolix producer Rob Shaker, from Shake Down Studios, who thoroughly counters the weight of Graphic’s Uzi firing off rounds of whole truths ranging from the plight of passage from refugee to asylum seeker, third world debt, mineral fracking and all eyes of the alphabet corporations eyeing off our freedoms. And, on the a cappella ‘Picture This’ fable, Graphic’s spoken word reverberates the album’s narrative greatly.

    Where other MCs have spat verses damning much of the same social disorder, Graphic brings a discourse to ‘Raw Intelligence’ that encourages listeners to be more proactive in their belief system, painting this project as a scholarly-driven concept album, one of a kind in Australian hip-hop. However the way Graphic delivers this project is not so much curriculum for education, rather it serves to juice further conscious responsibility and heighten awareness levels to what affects our basic freedoms that has afforded us our accustomed way of life. ‘Raw Intelligence’ is not simply a conduit tool for information but a weapon to broaden the mind that shoots with great accuracy to devastating effect.

    You're in the midst of magnificence / I got noth’n to prove but still move with due diligence.

    An imminent warning if you thought its gone / No mercy shown, keep press’n on.’

     
  • Seth Sentry 'Strange New Past' Album Review!

    Seth Sentry Strange New Past Seth Sentry Strange New Past

    Strange New Past by Seth Sentry

     

    Strange New Past finds Sentry still on his before and after as delivered on This Was Tomorrow, only this time on the Frankston MC’s follow-up release, he’s less the comic, baring himself in a narrative that plays out more like a confessional for an MC described as ‘the hip-hop savant’.

    The spectrum of production on this album swings bipolar to Sentry’s lyrics mastered with a cohesive thread right from the second verse on the ‘How are You’ introduction. Having already won crowds on the Run tour with the more Sentry-typical ‘Run’, it sets a pace where ‘Nobody Like Me’ breaks it and diverts down a more trappy track styled to Seth as he lyrically stabs daggers through an echoed chamber of jacked beats. This is shadowed only on ‘Hell Boy’ where Sentry relapses to his darkest and most illest self under Styalz Fuego’s sagging, bottom-heavy bass beat. From there, production swings from black to white on ‘Fake Champagne’, illustrating just as the title suggests when a syrupy, brass loop spills out. However, the pop-synthy production of two-part tracks, ‘Pripyet’ best complements Sentry as he draws from the Chernobyl disaster ghost-town in a metaphoric-driven narrative. This well-fractured rap album covers Seth Sentry in any kind of weather. But no matter the mood of the track, production on Strange New Past lulls a beat to shoulder Sentry’s warts and all that fades into the wind on ‘1969’ and the lighters-up moment ‘Sorry’.

    By RIP NICHOLSON

     

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