Australian Hip Hop Album Reviews

  • 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: Vic The Bitter – Side Affects

    Album Review: Vic The Bitter – Side Affects

    Album Review: Vic The Bitter – Side Affects

     

    Vic The Bitter – Side Affects

     

    From the west side of AUS, Vic The Bitter has blessed us with a giant release. The “Side Affects” Lp is an extremely bass heavy, full-strength, brusque example of Australian Hip-Hop in its raw but refined form. The type of release that is not simply explained in words, but very easy to comprehend upon first listen, the tunes get you entangled straight away.

    The Perth-born emcee has been around for minute, Melbourne heads may remember him from shows he did whilst he was living there for 3 years, supporting the likes of Brad Strut, Kings Konekted etc. This LP was also started in Melbourne (The sun rises in the east but it sets in the west.)

    The author of this article could be considered a hater. A jaded purist, or a judgemental prick. He could be considered a very critical and hard to impress c@#nt. I say that not to degrade ones character, or to detract from what is being said. I say this as an attempt to explain that the praise and accolades given, is from a source that takes a quality project to impress me, to which this album definitely has (from first listen, through to sequential plays.)

    Vic The Bitter has a fast paced, coarse and rough style. Fans who appreciate both raw gruffness on the voice and interesting/unique wordplay, will love his style. His voice reminds me of a few emcees (although comparisons are always a fickle idea,) such as Dekoda, Billy Bunks and Ken Oath. However, his style of rapping in terms of flow and lyrical content is purely his own. He covers different topic matter from battle/braggadocio tracks, to narratives, to solitary boredom, drug use and random topics. The main consistency with this album, is that every track is a banger. That term not being used loosely either, this shit fucking bangs.

    This album features a surprising yet rock-solid list of guest artists from different parts of Earth, ranging from Perth, to the US, to the UK. The 1st feature is by Stinkin Slumrok from the UK. He slaughters this verse. Crazy flow and infliction on his voice, dope lyrics. I’ve only heard limited amount of his work, but this has definitely pushed me to look at more of it, super nice. The 2nd feature is Aslan, on “Livewire.” Aslan slays his verse as usual, combining his complex black magic imagery and wordplay, effortlessly flowing over his self-produced beat. The 3rd feature is “Death Scholars” featuring Non-Phixion’s Goretex and Clandestein’s own Tomahawk. This track is a huge banger, Goretex doesn’t skimp out on the feature, he goes in hard and Tomahawk delivers his signature cryptic lyrics, baritone hefty delivery. The final feature takes the prize for best verse of the whole album. Sean Price’s posthumously released verse is one of his finest, his delivery is just ridiculous, and he gives me chills on this one.

    The artwork on this one is handled by Vic himself, and is well crafted and gives the album visual representative of what to expect from the sound.

    I left production to last in this article deliberately. The beats on this release are arguably what makes it so good, and in my opinion the albums strongest quality. The main bulk of the album is produced/mixed by Professa Kaos. He has incredible production. Every beat is fucking mammoth, slamming boss, bass heavy, big drum Hip-Hop. It has the perfect blend of electronic influence/sound quality and classic boom bap feels. His mix downs on the vocals is also worth mentioning as he makes acclaimed artists like Sean Price and Goretex sound colossal and as good quality as any of their other work. However the sheer quality of Professa Kaos’ work kind of overshadows the other songs on the album, from beats to the mix downs, there is definitely a sense of a shift in quality when the tracks move from his work to others. This is not to detract from the other songs on the album, they are all great tracks, but in context of the whole album, I think that the project would have been more consistent and possibly better if it were all handled by Professa Kaos. This is meek critique however, as mentioned above, the whole piece is a great album, but the standard of quality on 90% of the tracks does stand at a height quite above the other 10%.

    Favourite tracks: Synaesthesia, Idle Hands, Gum Rot Funk and Disco Biscuits.

    Words By Lani Milbus

    Vic The Bitter - Side Affects Banner

     
  • Album Review: Must Volkoff - Aquanaut

    Must Volkoff - Aquanaut Cover

    Must Volkoff – Aquanaut

    From the unfathomable bathymetric depths of the Universe, swims the 2nd production album from Must VolkoffAquanaut. The album’s title lends itself to grand imagery, metaphors and marine-like depth, which can be said for the music itself. Just take a few moments to mull over the title in your head, then apply it when listening. The album features artists from the UK to Australia, connecting the Indian to Atlantic ocean, effortlessly bridging the gap between them.

    Must Volkoff should be in your top 3 producers in Australia, if he’s not then you misunderstand what makes good production. This record is meticulously crafted, easily one of the most well produced albums I’ve heard. One can always provide endless accolades for his beats, however when speaking on production, I’m talking on a broader spectrum. The samples, mixing, cuts, tape hiss etc, are made in such incredible genius and taste, all those 1 %er’s pushing it further into undiluted pristine territory. While a lot of artists in Australia can be sea urchins and leeches, Must (and Pang Productions in general) are lantern fish, illuminating the way through. As the tidal waves of mediocre music crash our shores, Must is always a dependable anchor, firm on solidarity and quality. His production style has evolved a lot over the years but always has the “signature” stamp of authority. As the great Ciecmate once put it “it’s like he knows how to sample the sound of smoke”, a great way to put it. To me it’s the sound of dust mites in your crate, the sound of floating dust particles basking in morning sunlight, the sound of your cherished childhood arcade (mine was timezone) or the sound of water rising above Lemuria. To describe his style of beats forces the author of this article to plunge into a few under worldly oxymorons. The beats are archaic but avant-garde, retro but undeniably fresh, blaringly minimal but satisfyingly full, simultaneously. Each track on this album paints a vivid soundscape, which drags you down like a Grindylow into the murky world he has created, beautiful and healing like Jengu spirits.

    All the guest rappers on this do an amazing job with their verses. Every track is at an exceedingly high standard, dense both lyrically and in delivery. Must really knows how to bring the best out of every rapper he works with. Apollo Brown is an example of someone who does a similar thing. One can only speculate on the creative process of an album like this, but through either his selection of beats, the way he mixes their vocals, or perhaps being on the frontline of quality control, you can expect any rappers collaboration with Must to be super ill. Working with rappers with such high calibre, and distinct styles and voices definitely would help that. The album features and impressive list of rappers including Chester P, Maundz, Remus, Mata, Jehst, Flu, Sonnyjim, Nelson Dialect, Joe Snow, Adam Koots, One Sixth, Ramson Badbonez, Aslan, Dyl Thomas, just name a few. A lot of these artists most people know, a lot you might not. What you can know is that each of these rappers are on the top of their game, each one bringing something both layered and musically pleasing to the table, each rapper extremely secure in their style, effortless flows, complex lyrics.

    I will offer some meek critique on it. The main thing I don’t like is that Must doesn’t spit on it haha. Some people may have expectations before listening to the record, it’s not as “party” as White Russian (for less of a better description) but I believe this album bangs harder, and is overall a much more solid release than its predecessor, and to me that’s saying something. This album is more baroque, woozy, lo-fi and off kilter. But it’s hypnotically entrancing and infectious, supremely rich in texture in sound and arguably one of the best produced oz Hip-Hop releases, in my opinion.

    The supreme battle between good and evil, gods and devils is present throughout this album (this is just my perception.) That duality and polarity within the beats makes it so pleasing to listen to. Tiamat & Marduk, Leviathan & Hadad battling as the title goes, the paradox of minds.. aqua – naut.
    Overall it is extremely hard to pigeon-hole this release into any category as it stands alone as an impressive effort from a barrage of talented individuals, led by the mystro Must Volkoff, which has far exceeded the existing high hopes I had for this album. It truly is a remarkable body of tracks, and as always, Must delivers a true piece of sunken treasure.

    Favourite tracks:
    Aquanaut, Dr Seus (ft Flu), The Holy Ghost (ft Nelson Dialect), Fuck The Arcade (ft Jehst & Mata), Raining in the Hood (ft Mongo), Earth Jewelz (ft Aslan), Psychedelic Purple (ft Sonnyjim), M.F.T.C Shit (ft Remus & Chester P), Every Block (ft Gutz & Maggot Mouf)

    All those said, they could be easily be interchanged with others, it’s that kind of an album. What I will say is honourable mentions to Flu & Mata, as the stand out verses on the joint. Go and cop this release now, and when the wax comes get onto it, worth every cent spent, I would buy it 4 or 5 times over

    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!

     
  • Album Review: SheaButter - Above Average 7"

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    I received the Above Average 7" last year when I performed as a support act for SheaButter's release launch on the 18th of Nov.

    Meeting people is a great way of determining ones character, real recognise ya'll. Rendrz and SheaButter were extremely humble, when Shea started his set I knew it was gonna be dope. His style had a little something classic, a little something personal. Dapper, but if character were threads, he would might as well be wearing a monks robe.

    This release is as unassuming, humble and honest as the title suggests. Filled with dusty, classic boom bap breaks and jams from Shea's right hand man on the production Rendrz, this has the traits of a classic. Shea shares a piece of himself on every track, the content of his lyrics second to none.

    1.Above Average

    The first track starts with a bang, the beat reminds me of the Brothers Stoney production or a beat from Delta's Paper Weight ep. Shea minces no words, slicing bars and delivering tight, funky flows. Slanging his relevant thoughts carelessly across the beat, you can instantly tell the calibre of this emcee. His rhythm gets the head nodding, almost like Black Thought's sorta flow. He's joined by Rendrz on the cut, who drops thoughtful samples that change each chorus. The scratches are sharp and tight.

    2.Outta Joint

    The standout track on the release, this is an anthem for all independant musicians. Over a crackly piano sample, Shea pours out his soul and thoughts for the listener. The opening lines:

    Rise and shine, even when its dark,
    5:45 and I'm ready to start,
    Another hard days yakka, depart with the swagger,
    Work a full time to be a part time rapper

    The strong but unhappy mindstate of the working class rapper. It takes pure dedication to be good at life and music simultaneously. Every single bar in this track is relatable, the vocals are warm and crunchy. The chorus has a great sonic quality, and the layers on the vox harmonise together beautifully. Its a very inspiring jam. Rendrz drops sound effects and beautiful dusty vocal samples throughout the track, the gel between the two is apparent already.

    3.Young Buck

    The digital download you get with the vinyl comes with two bonus tracks which is a pleasant surpise.
    Young Buck has an infectious sexy rhythm. The beat is so funky and jazzy. The guitar sample, the saxophone or trumpet sample, the piano sitting under the mix, all of it dope.  SheaButter drops vicious but humble lyrics across the breaks, his style and flow remind me of artists like Mantra.  The chorus section is left dry which I think is a nice touch but cuts would sound equally good here.

    4.Stress Management

    My favourite beat on the release by far. So calming, earthy and bass heavy, you can tell where the vibe for the name came from.
    The lyrics and flow are chronic on this one, Shea has an uncanny knack of being able to share his thoughts, but mix it up with lots of flavour like a lyric chef. You can tell this one is purely inspired, I only know too well the stress release of creating music. The 3rd verse is almost like a letter to himself. The combination of Shea & Rendrz is synchronicity at its finest.

    Overall, lyrics and production wise, this is a heavy solid release worthy of the title. It has a classic boom bap sound with a lot of fresh flavour sprinkled everywhere.
    Unforunately the cover is very basic, I think the release would have a great impact if it had a bit more art direction. Also I would have put Stress Management on the vinyl but thats just my taste, I just think its a great track

    Highly recommending this one to any Hip-Hop listener, a great album for the whip, playing in the house, unwinding or having a sesh. Rendrz and Shea Butter have got a killer sound together, and it translates in person. Summed up in a few words, purist, quality boom bap.

    Keep up to date via the links below!

    https://rendrz.bandcamp.com/releases
    https://www.facebook.com/shea.butter.35

    Words by Lani Milbus.

     
  • Review: Punch - Everything That Eats At Me

    Punch - Everything That Eats At Me

    Punch - Everything That Eats At Me (Review)

    From the depths of the Brisbane Hip-Hop scene comes Punch with his debut solo release Everything That Eats At Me. Punch has been present in the scene for a while now, working on various crew projects and supporting the likes of Trem One, Brad Strut, Hired Goons, Lazy Grey, Jake Biz, Suss One, Dwizofoz, Dielectrix, Exit Strategy, Gaz Hazard and more.

    Punch has an honest, gruff style. You can tell there is a lot of angst, life experience and emotion put into his lyrics, every lyric is partisan to the person he is (this shines through on every track.) His rough but warm voice reminds me of fellow Brisvegas emcee Rezadent. The whole Ep has a full circle of tracks, variety and allure to that classic "Brisbane" Hip-Hop sound, from the dark street KK style tracks, to tracks reminiscent of "Banned In Queensland," to the clean crisp boom bap sound evocative of Exit Strategy.

    1.  Hiatus (Ft. Triple 3) 03:33

    This is perhaps the perfect title to start the album "I know its been a while, I put my rhymes on hiatus" something artists have to do from time to time. The beat is raw, and so are the vocals, real gutter, street sound. Punch is joined on the track by Triple 3 and cuts by Nuggy Gee. Triple 3 has a similar style to Punch and they gel effortlessly on a track. The cuts are very tasteful and give the track structure.         

    2. 310 03:46

    The beat is extremely warm on this one, Punch delivers one of his best tracks, his delivery so dour, warm and colourful. His lyrics reflect the mentality of the 40 hour worker, where time slips away, day starting at 3: 10. The chorus is extremely catchy, the perfect balance to tie the whole track together. One of those songs that would go down well on a Friday arvo, wit a cone and a couple bevvies.              

    3. Bad Decisions (Ft. Dwizofoz) 03:38

    The track title is self explanatory. Raw, street and life experience put on a track. Both emcees expose their souls, Punch has this controlled aggression, added with sweeping flows and honest lyrics- you can feel the angst in this one. Dwizofoz delivers one of the best verses I've heard from him. As a battle rapper he takes a bit of a risk by laying his cards down flat and tells the listener about his struggles. Multi-syllables and crazy flows he shows why he stands strong as the RT boss, this track is earnestly enjoyable.

    4. Think About It (Ft. Biotic & Elaborate)  03:52

    The instrumental used on this one is my favourites on the album. Biotic kicks the track off with blistering flows, skips in the flow remind me of Kool G, he has a bright rough voice. As someone who hasn't heard much of his work, it makes one wanna check out more instantly. Punch's voice sits on the beat nicely, his delivery shining through on this one, that rough voice on the sweetness of the violin sample in the beat. Wordplay on this track is second to none. The track is rounded out by Exit Strategy's Elaborate. He shares a lot of his thoughts, with an attacking fast paced flow and intricate wordplay.

    5. Randomness 03:29

    This track, Punch is having fun! The beat is funky, jazzy, reminds me of old Hilltops and Banned In QLD. Punch delivers his funny, sexual, random banter on this one.. Really a lot of fun, this is a track even a non Hip-Hop listener would get down with and the type of song that provokes you to get loose!

    6. In All Honesty (Ft. Irrelevant) 02:27

    Sombre and thoughtful, this track tugs on the heartstrings. Punch pays tribute to his family, individually addressing his Mum, Dad and sisters in separate verses. The gravel smooth RnB voice of Irrelevant holds you and reassures you everything is all good. This is a track obviously for his families ears but it translates so well, and I could completely relate to what was being said.      

    7. Regrets (Ft. Nuggy Gee) 02:11

    In line with alot of the content on this album, Regrets ties in the struggles and regrets Punch has obviously felt. He is joined by Nuggy Gee. The baroque melody of the piano sample creates a sombre feel. Nuggy Gee delivers honestly, verbalising through his instrospective lyrics. Punch raps abouts his struggles with drinking, wasting time and regrets. He has one of those voices that cuts through with pure Australian tone, at this point you start to realise how good his voice really is.

    8. I Confess (Ft. Sarah Blasko) 02:29

    The sweet voice of Sarah Blasko opens this track, Punch drops into a double time beat and flow. Love is the theme of this one, with intricate and rhythmic flows he admits to past mistakes but also shows how much he has grown, summarising the content in much of the rest of the tracks. In collaboration with the angelic tones of Sarah Blasko's beautiful voice, this is a fitting song to finish the album, bittersweet and beautiful.

    This release is a biography of Punch's past. You get to know him on a personal level, as an artist and a man just trying to find his way like everybody else. Relatibility is the albums strongest attribute, every line out of his mouth you can feel, or describes perfectly a time in your own life, or thoughts that you may have had.

    Overall I think there could be a few improvements, the tracks going for longer (sometimes your just hanging for verse 2 and it never comes haha) and also in a few technical aspects - mixing and mastering mainly but this does not detract from the quality of the music. This is a man who has taken the last three years to piece together songs that reflect and express himself properly and the result is a musical journey that takes you straight to his heart and mind, fearlessly exposing his soul whilst perforating your ear with his innovative style and thoroughly enjoyable voice.

    Download your free copy of Punch - Everything That Eats At Me here!

    Stream it now below!

    Words by Lani Milbus.

     

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