Get Us On The Court And We're Trouble
aka club ilwtt - autumn 2008. date: yes. time: yes. venue: yes. the tracks were these.
the elementz featuring scorzayzee "voyage" (from"crushmode" cd lp on occupy your mind)
yep, you read it right: featuring scorzayzee. yay. one of notts' many finest is *BACK* and is still the master storyteller, with the ability to deliver reality like no other (e.g. "great britain" w/ the p brothers) and heartfelt, kitchen sink empathy like no other (just like on "want what's yours" with styly cee, all the way back in day). oh, and he's still got a killer flow. actually, the elementz record is pretty tight, especially with skinnyman's "high grade" and with wretch and mates killing it on "at 1 with the elementz", but we're afraid any track with scorz on it is gonna upstage all-comers, and this he duly does. on another level.
scorzayzee "why i'm here" (myspace track)
did we mention, scorz is back ? this one explains why, an effortless freestyle about self-discovery, self-restraint, poverty, inspiration and coming good. ah, honestly, having him back is completely brilliant. we know it was rakim who said "i came back to bless the mic", but this feels like our own returning hero doing just the same.
tempa "freestyle" featuring jaybe (myspace track)
a real positive to see that tempa is still around, too, as it's some time since "ya get me" ruled the decks, and she's still interested in delivering um, truth to the youth, packing the sort of punch we took from no.lay on the latter's recent mixtape. plus, young jaybe marks himself out here as one to watch: here's keepin' it crossed for more, much more from the both of them.
dap-c and dirty sweet featuring blak twang and geejay "music game" (from "street karma" cd on ngu records)
dap-c's most recent cd is somewhat variable: there's not enough of him on it for a start, far too many other rappers taking up mic time, plus, even when he is on it, he's devoting inordinate energy to the regulation champagne & shagging lyrical stuff and not nearly enough to just expressing his emotions, which is actually when he comes across best to us, even if we know that's not what keeps younger heads nodding these days (or, indeed, keeps cash tills ringing). but anyway. this tune, despite being more breezily instant and glimmer globe-friendly than any lowest common denom club banger could be, is simply tremendous, a summer hit that grows and grows and keeps on giving.
twang (that's b.t. himself aka tony rotton aka sarf london's greatest hip-hop survivor, not the ace late-80s ron johnson band or the very very terrible '00s "indie" band from brum) hits it with a large first verse, well up to his usual standard: dap-c then follows it with possibly the best bars he's done, right from when he nails it up top with his "i remember sleepless nights / no electricity..." intro through to a defiant "i'm battling still": and sunderland's under-rated geejay delivers too, with a spot at least as strong as some of the tracks from his own "i came to represent" mixtape. but p'raps the real star of the exercise is dirty sweet, who put the beat together to make it all possible. ubermaximum respect.
onyx "mad world" (from "cold case files (murda investigation)" cd on iceman)
yes, onyx are BACK too, even if the material here is not new, and this return of the madface is miles from the going thru the motions of "triggernometry" as sticky, fredro and co strip things right back to, at best, huge bass and raw, grizzly vocals (think mobb circa "drop a gem on 'em"). this is no-frills hip-hop, and even as a 'rest of', it lords it over some of their solo efforts.
dj pleasure "vengar" (12" a-side on lowdowndeep)
malfoy "pureblood" (12" a-side on skimrok project)
clipz "offline" (b-side of "ugly" 12" on audio zoo)
jaydan "hustlerz and dealerz" (12" a-side on propaganda records)
dj pleasure "technique" (b-side of "wish master" 12" on lowdowndeep)
ooh, that was a half hour we greatly enjoyed. there seems to be a school of thought that jump-up is somehow "too easy" to get into, as if the fact that something makes you want to dance around madly or smile like a (wo)man possessed disqualifies it from critical acclaim. obviously, only dunderheads subscribe to this school, by which any peppy pop music, groovalicious grindcore or life-affirming UKHH (see previous tune) would be ruled out of "the canon". all these guys make great music, and like everyone else we scrawl about, music that is not that hard to adore.
the pains of being pure at heart "everything with you" (possibly forthcoming single on slumberland)
"goal...!" a new tune from the pains of. no, it does not represent a change of direction: yes, that is a good outcome. liable to be up there with the mls' "clusterfuck" as one of the brightest swinging fuzzpop 7"s of the yr.
the pains of being pure at heart "come saturday" (download single on fortuna pop!)
"and another", as alan partridge would say. thanks to sean price, the ever-diligent suge knight of indie-pop, there's gonna be a pains of being pure at heart album, and it's gonna be major. how do we know ? because this buzzing, sherbety ripsnorter takes "come saturday" from their earlier slumberland split single and gives it the full fuel injection, not least by bringing the bass up to the fore. sheer sheer joy.
postal blue "you should keep it to yourself" (from their 3" cd-r on cloudberry)
the boys from brazil are er, BACK and the news on this tune is that they've gone kinda blueboy circa "imipramine". fair play to them, really: in our view it's a change in direction which suits them to a tee.
phil wilson "neon lights" (from "industrial strength" 2x7" ep on slumberland)
the late tony wilson presided over "factory". the great ant wilson curated "powertools". the fine glenn wilson delivered "industrial control". and now the sublime phil wilson (who is BACK, btw) brings us "industrial strength". thematic is good. as is this e.p. of acoustic kraut-industrial covers (yes you read that right) with low-in-the-mix vocals: "neon lights" is especially sweetly rediscovered, using the power of ukelele. the overdue return of phil wilson to our record collection is courtesy of those arbiters of maximum taste at slumberland - what with sarandon, the sunny street and the pains of too, it does rather appear that slumberland are trotting out much sweet stuff this yr, does it not ?
lauren mason "haterade" (single on perpetuity records)
ah, y'know, this is *grate*. it's marketed vaguely as grime, and her voice obviously has that r&b feel that worked so well on "p.s." and "just wanna be me", but really this is great POP, at least as serviceable as, and with much more charm than, the seemingly uncriticisable girls aloud or sugababes. when she sings "i'm only 22... this is my prime time / i didn't know that to look sharp and feel good was a big crime" it's a stern rebuke - she properly smacks it to the grumpy oldsters like us she's getting at. we'd better check out the album.
estelle "american boy" (single on atlantic)
gulp. is it really 6 years since we were dropping the odd mention of estelle swaray into our ziney musings ? that would have been abt the time she did guest vox (styling herself "est'elle") on b. twang's "trixstar", showed off her singing on the "diamond in the rough" mixtape and even dropped in on a couple of tunes on 57th dynasty's "a dynasty truly like no other": all followed eventually by "1980" (yes it was a fleeting, but still memorable pop moment). and the errant apostrophe was now long gone. then there was, let us think, a terrible album, a biiiiiig gap and now a resurfacing with, well, largely another terrible album, but whatever, cos' "american boy" itself is pretty smart. apart from: the sickly-slick production; and the fact she seems to owe her success not to her ability and endeavour, what we've never doubted, but to getting in with the "right" (i.e. wrong) musical company. grrr.
luckily, c-murder is apparently out on parole now, and what with onyx seemingly being back in full effect too, hopefully real gangster rap can make a comeback and help nail the current lazy tolerance of mediocrity that allows kanye to telephone in the kind of verse he does here, ne-yo to express his admiration for coldplay or to record anything, and the honestly once-amazing snoop to record such abysmal records as "sensual seduction". oh, and ll cool j's warmly-touted nu single is also *not* a return to form: it is totally wack and "i need love" seems like "hand in glove" by comparison. sorry ll, but maybe ice-t had it damn right on "i'm your pusher", after all.
annotations of an autopsy "fisted to the point of regurgitation" (from "before the throne of infection" cd lp on siege of amida)
obituary "forces realign" (from "left to die" cd-ep on candlelight)
slipknot "all hope is gone" (single on the all-blacks)
at their best, annotations encapsulate the pure sludge of earlyish carcass and are therefore always worth a run-out, even if the lyrics are still basically keepin' it 6th form. obituary on the other hand are simply gods, and not just because they hail from the same state as cloudberry records. whereas... well, we never thought we would even be able to listen to a slipknot record all the way through, considering how limpid and unthreateningly tame slipknot usually are, but this (also the title track of their album) is actually ok, and 1,000,000x better than "psychosocial" which we think is their other single of recent months. tru, it probably wouldn't be in here if its inclusion didn't at least marginally rile you, our dear reader (readers ?) but there you go. we'd love it, just love it, if they ever covered "vatican broadside".
bubblegum lemonade "just like you" (from "susan's in the sky" ep on matinee recordings)
the lemonade have the severe misfortune to have released this at the same time as northern portrait's "napoleon sweetheart", which no doubt had the effect that all the paparazzi who would otherwise loiter with intent around bubblegum towers on a weeknight zoomed off to copenhagen or something. away from the paps, bubblegum lemonade have crafted another lissom title track, but we went for "just like you" because, like "unsafe at any speed" off their first ep, it shows how they can be at their best when they corral together those jamc influences.
jme "punch in the face" (from "famous ?" cd lp on boy better know)
"famous ?" is jamie adenuga's first album proper after that series of mixtapes quite a while back, which is probably why tunes like "serious" (a song we must have first heard on 1xtra in about 1812), lp opener "AWOH", "standard" and a "shh hut yuh muh" refix (a maniac assemblage to rival "full effect" or "no boad test this corner" for general addictiveness) can still get a run-out in 2008. there's no doubt it's a bold, accomplished work though: most attention will probably be devoted to "sun, sea and sand", which deserves to be a hooj crossover record, and the plastician-inspired "ghetto superstar", but plenty of our favourites are where jme's own voice comes through, like "standard", the wiley-produced "1 2 3" or this track ("i've had enough of these fake gangsters... i just think they're idiots"). "punch in the face" is a good example of how "famous?" is acksherley a thoughtful, at times surprisingly unsettling record, many of the songs finishing with longer instrumental passages than most grime-mc cuts, and so drilling clipped, clinical, sparse beats like these a little deeper into yr mind.
kurupt "break it down like" (single on highpowered entertainment)
on one level, this is brainless sub-50 "up in da club" tosh, but on another, it's a visceral snakehip-tempter par excellence. what tips the balance on this occasion is that ex-death row geezer and general old-stager kurupt is allegedly a fave of garry thompson, a fine player in his day and also in our view one of rovers' more mistreated ex-managers. also, "break it down, like" is a ringer for the brizzle vernacular.
morgan heritage and busy signal "run dem weh" (single on juke boxx recordings)
buju banton "you ago happen" (from "the golden tree" ep on gargamel music)
capleton "nuh bwoy" (single on clay records)
busy's "tic-toc" didn't really chime for us (ha), but when he teams up with the more consistent heritage ppl the result is this excellent download. ever questioning ("how can you expect the population / to sit back kick back and just relax ?"), it neatly marries roots reggae riddims with up-to-the-now dub inflections. of the various spins of buju's golden tree riddim on his new ep, "you ago happen" just about wins out for us over the collaborations with delly ranks and new kids: it's not as expansive as, but feels much more winningly contemporary than, "cowboys". as for capleton (sadly no relation to the ex-southend 'keeper), he just plays it tuff, but somehow we can't tear ourselves away. so "nuh bwoy", along with "break it down like", is a guilty, even grubby, pleasure.
sven wittekind "i stay hard" (12" a-side on sven wittekind records)
the bug featuring flowdan "warning" (from "london zoo" lp on ninja tune)
sven stays hard-techno, we're sure that means: and the tune is a little more driven than his recent "never forget" 12". flowdan is just hard, in any sense of the term, and resumes his prolific partnership with the equally uncompromising the bug. "warning" is therefore the aural equivalent of mick harford partnering fash the bash up front.
repugnant inebriation "dead soul" (from "empire of hate" cd-ep on eternal fog records)
metal bands have been running out of adjective / noun name combinations for some time now: all the really good ones, to do with death or napalm or horrible diseases, have gone, so one has to fall back on anything that sounds vaguely unpleasant. so in the case of london's own five-piece repugnant inebriation, at least they've got something that well reflects an average evening in their home city, even if they can't lay claim to the most serious medical / wartime ailments. anyway, this e.p. is death metal of the proper excoriating variety and it leads off with this song, that also appeared on a recent terrorizer cover mount. the repugnants carefully negotiate the fine line between smile-making moshery and self-regarding guitar noodling to deliver one of our favourite metallic singles of the yr so far. in their own words, they want to create music that's "a pleasure to listen to": as with all our cast tonight, they've certainly succeeded, making this the perfect place to STOP.