Cappo & Nappa “Rebel Base” (King Underground)

Notts’ hot. A mere, erm, two years after the taster 12”, “Red Hot”, we now at last have Cappo and Nappa’s full-length “Rebel Base” collaboration on King Underground, spread out as is traditional over four sides of gratifyingly black vinyl.

Like the single that long preceded it, the album is a fecund combination of DJ Nappa’s funk-drenched retro samples and Cappo’s raw, combative wordplay, closer to the feel of the latter’s LP with Styly Cee than his more cerebral/experimental “Genghis” set (although there are moments, like the tingling “Still Me”, in which the MC’s more contemplative side shines through). Welcome signs that it’s “business as usual” for Caps include metaphors that invoke a typically disparate roll call of names, from Charles Dickens to Chris Morris via Basquiat and Manny Pacquiao; and song titles that reflect the sentiment and seriousness of his rhyme philosophy: “Originate”, “Commitment Statement”, “Honour Code”, “The Discipline”… as you know, in our humble op he is up with the all-time greats.

As well as the distinctly rejuvenating DJ Premier-inspired licks of “Red Hot” (which has rather grown on us in the LP’s two-year gestation period!) highlights for us include the “Loyalty”-like piano-backed “Originate”, the brash brass of opener “Commitment Statement”, the darkly minimal no-prisoner “The Gift”, the slick & slinky MGUN-ish IDM of "Elite Marine", the disco-prowling prowess of "Kaos" and its hungry bassline, and the sound of Luton Town turning East Coast as Nappa nimbly helms the Bomb Squad-style "Get Live". And there’s the statutory sampled nod to P.E. too (“Rebel BASS!” intones Chuck, inevitably, on side two). Indeed, there's a more than liberal sprinkling of classic old-skool samples across the LP.

With sixteen ‘proper’ tunes on show, the only real dilution of quality comes during the occasional guest spots: much as it’s terrific to hear the likes of Midnyte (of “No Pills, No Thrills” ‘fame’) and Konny Kon (whose CV boasts “Capkon Entertaiment” and “Stay Ex-Static”) again, it’s hard for the invited MCs here to quite keep up with Cappo’s confident stride, the only exception being “The Man”, in which both the mighty Life MC (once, like Nappa, of Phi Life Cypher) and the legendary MCM bring real gravitas to the table.

Unfortunately the vinyl of this is ludicrously limited - we managed to garner one of just 250 – and, as goes hand in hand with that, almost ruinously expensive, but we don’t think any sensible punter will regret spending the £7.99 you can get the full soundfiles for over at bandcamp. Taken alongside Scor-Zay-Zee’s prodigious “Peace To The Puzzle” back in the spring, “Rebel Base” is another example of how Nottingham’s finer flows (and we’re not talking about the Trent) still swirl sublimely around the very pinnacle of UK hip-hop.