Stryder House Rules

"They can't fuck with me, I'm protected / Not just in Bow, I'm connected"

It's well known that pubs or bars which have people (especially old men) queuing to get in at 11 a.m. are the real top-drawer: whereas hostelries that have people queuing to get in at 11 p.m. are well worth avoiding. So since the wrongful demise of the Jorene Celeste, which has turned into one of the latter, we've gravitated to the Florence a fair bit: by and large, it fulfils its claim of being the last "real pub" on this part of the A1, a little oasis tucked away behind the, er, petrol station. Mind you, things got a little concerning the other night, when someone tipped us off that the Islington Conservatives had been allowed to book a table in there, a surefire way to cast a sudden shadow over an otherwise favourite haunt. We were looking around us all the time, as shivers invaded our spines: suddenly, our cold Carlsberg felt like it could tip us into frostbite, and warm, happy homeliness iced over into mild discomfort. There are plenty of places where the innocent punter should be spared from being shoulder-to-shoulder with Islington Conservatives, and the local is definitely one of them.

Anyway, to E3 (again). We can bring you gladdest tidings to the effect that the *real* Tinchy Stryder is back, to(u)ting a CD-EP by the name of "Cloud 9". To be fair to Tinchy, he did tell us last year that he was "tryin' to get mainstream money", which probably explains why the "Star In The Hood" set lacked his usual punch and guile, and the singles off it were such guilty pleasures: but it's still a relief to find that the new EP, seemingly self-released, has largely been produced without any obvious aim to please / appease the crossover audience: "This is simply what I do best", he notes on the first track, "Full Effect".

Like others of the genre (most impressively Durrty Goodz' "Axiom"), extended play here means not a Sarah-style three track 7", but instead a meaty nine-track CD: a formula which can work so much better than the 20-25 track mixtape. And, with the sole exception of "Thump" smack bang in the middle, a dreary crossover tune that takes the just-add-slush formula of the two Total Entertainment singles to a reductio ad absurdum of urban gloop, "Cloud 9" is a powerful and oh-so welcome return to form. It probably does no harm at all that Tinchy employs Maniac, a man who hoovers up any superlatives lying round here, to supervise the first three tunes, as they all slay (and include recent 12" "Sorry U Are ?" with the ever-rising Chipmunk - btw Badness' "The Lava Continues" CD from last year, which we highly recommend, features amongst many other great tracks a barnstorming tune with Chip called "When We Rize").

On "Six 4 Fire", the third of the Maniac productions, Tinchy cockily says, "I'm back in your top ten line-up". But you know, not least with Ruff Sqwad's "Man Dem" tearing up Channel U right now, and a 12-tracker "Stryder vs Maniac" allegedly on way, we think he's right.

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