Friday, 31 October 2014

JR The Juggernaut - Halloween Raps (The Walking Dead) (Video)

Another Edition of Weekly Bars by JR The Juggernaut. Subscribe to his youtube channel. I also have it on good authority that we should expect some sort of project soon from him too. Looking forward to that.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Savage Sound System - Shan Times [Free EP]

Sixth EP from the Edinburgh based eclectic collective 'Savage Sound System', featuring Werd, Conscious Route, D.Soul the Soulsamurai, ShilohZen and Pete Duffy.

Free download releases from savage recordings. Downloads include mp3s (320 kbps), album artwork (jpg) and credits (rtf) in a single zip file. If you like what you hear please consider buying a release / attending a concert by the artist.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

REVIEW: Loki With Becci Wallace - G.I.M.P. - Government Issue Music Protest

Stream: Listen here for free on KILTR

Before I get into this review, it is perhaps useful to read my review/exclusive on Loki's precursor project to this one. Loki himself gives a lengthy mission statement on G.I.M.P., one that'll save me tedious paragraphs on what his intentions were for this record. Those of you that follow the Glaswegian, who is an emcee, activist and journalist, will be more than aware of his reputation for being hugely self-critical of his own work. So in that spirit, I decided to wait until after the referendum result to give my own review of this album.

Don't get me wrong, that may come across as a little fastidious since the best art should stand the test of time. However, given my own personal prejudices and views on the referendum, part of me was reluctant to commentate on a dystopian post-no future when my first listen was only a few days before the big result.

Quite naturally, listening to this album now after the result sparks a different reaction. Scotland voted no to independence, but Glasgow voted yes, and it is "New Glasgow" that provides the setting for Loki's somewhat severe vision of what Scotland could be in twenty years. Regardless of the real life result though, the album sparks an energy and motivational anger in the listener throughout. I mentioned the similarly named Lowkey's Soundtrack to the Struggle in my previous review, an overtly political album that struck a chord with a couple of years ago. Even with this album's futuristic concept, this album feels just as current as the aforementioned Lowkey record.

Both albums are combative yet inspirational works that seem intent on inspiring a generation. Rather than take on the role of moral arbiter however (something Lowkey had a habit of doing), Loki writes through a narrative style that encounters different attitudes/characters along the way. Though it is my personal opinion that 75 minutes is almost always too long for any music release (40-50 mins give more replay value), the tracks are designed in a way that you can pick and choose which aspect of the character you want to engage with.

That is not to say that the project isn't cohesive. Though the album sometimes deviates from the brilliantly apocalyptic tone set by the opening two tracks ('The End' and the title track), Loki makes use of a (mostly) English newscaster to tie the whole narrative together. Her frequent contextual information even comes across as comical at times, but maybe that's just me speaking with a Scottish sense of humour. Loki does make use of humour throughout though, with tracks like 'The Unimportance of Being Idle' parodying class divide by using "simple facts" to combat rhetoric.
Musically, this might also be Loki's strongest and most focused LP yet, especially considering the diversity in who he works with behind the boards. Several of the beats here ('Shut Up and Drive', 'The Ghost of Sage Francis', 'Best Friends') make use of strings or piano loops to convey a sense of reflection on Loki's more incisive societal observations. Other tunes ('Revo Max', 'The End', 'Porno') are frantic, heavy and more intense than we're perhaps used to hearing, but they give platform for him to showcase his ever-impressive rapping abilities. And Loki is still in a stylistic lane of his own when it comes to Scottish rap. For an album of such proportions, you could be forgiven for expecting pseudo-intellectualism and moralising. Instead, Loki sounds emotionally affected at points ('Friends Like You','Best Friends', 'The Ghost...'), and the vocal inflections and agitated flows he uses hammer this home. 

Maybe all that was to be expected, but Loki Okay, so G.I.M.P. is long, long-winded and it takes a long time to even digest. I am nevertheless proud that such a concept was attempted and well-executed by a Scottish MC. Maybe that is an attitude that has been in itself informed by feeling marginalised, a sentiment that Loki frequently addresses here, but this is still one of the best hip hop LP's I've heard from anywhere this year. To hear it in full, you need to go pre-order it here.

At this point I should also shout out the talented Becci Wallace who adds a lot of depth to what Loki does - please keep working together guys! 

Monday, 15 September 2014

Battle Round-Up (KG & Bristo)

"Seen In Bristo Square", Humans of Edinburgh
Given the latest mainstream exposure that has been given to the likes of Stanley Odd and Loki, interest in Scottish hip hop is at an all time high. Whilst this might not always be reflected in album or live show ticket sales, it has nevertheless seen a surge of media interest from the likes of NME, Vice and even the viral facebook page Humans of Edinburgh. 

Meanwhile, battle rap is slowly developing into a beast of its own. The success of Don't Flop has inspired not only a higher level of production, but also a new generation of battlers. With the old guard of Kayce One, Depths and Respek BA seemingly moved on, there is now a regular set of heads that tend to perform at every event (in addition to Jailz the "battle whore").   

Though videos are still forthcoming, both the Kelvingrove and Bristo battle events proved interesting for several reasons (SPOILERS):

Chad and Subz gather the arriving KG crowd, Crown Sound
Apparently we still love mum jokes

Okay, so outdoor events always result in a particular kind of atmosphere. The drinks are flowing and crowd control can be lacking, but this has its upsides too. Being heckled might be annoying but unforgiving outdoor crowds also encourage performance. If you can make a group of passers by laugh, then they're more likely to engage with the battles as a whole.

I'm the first person to admit that I prefer to see good penmanship over everything else, but certain battles illustrate that it doesn't work in every context. Take Zee, for example: his latest performances on DF and Breaking Bars demonstrate his ability to write and perform, but an off-colour performance at Bristo showed that bars only get you so far. EVIL (see top) might inject a lot of humour into his writing, including infamous mum jokes, but he was by the far most convincing all-round performer at both events. 

Freestyle only gets you so far

Back in the Jumpoff era, the ability to freestyle was a necessity in a battle. In the written era, it is utilised sparingly and can make or break a whole round. Against a round of strong writtens, however, you'll almost always lose. Zebs, fresh off of his best performance v Lex Lethal in Glasgow, learned to his peril against JR the Juggernaut. A special shout out has to go to JR at this point, whose stock has rose massively following his showing v Zee, and a further win against Deadsoundz' Steve-ET. 

JR the Juggernaut, Humans of Edinburgh
Scotland's best can compete

Okay, that's quite a cheesy title. Of course we can fucking 'compete', but since I started penning articles for the Don't Flop website, I have noticed a certain snobbery from down south. Perhaps the insular nature of our scene doesn't help, but the likes of Wee D, JR, EVIL and Number 13 all performed to a high standard at these event, and most of those guys aren't bigger crowd drawers in the way that Louie, Soul or Loki are. As battle rap evolves into its own entity, it leads me to wonder how far Scottish battlers can really go without a consistent channel or audience. My SSU compadre Misterman recently performed in a league in the midlands, whilst Zee (and originally Q-Riot) were asked to travel 400 miles south to perform for free. Consider this an opening to discussion - if we throw battle events, how can we maximise battle promotion and capitalise on its increasing popularity? After all, we definitely have the talent. 

Battles will be posted as they are released. Myself and Leo were shooting the Bristo event and I know he's got a lot on his plate. University/work/life has also put the blog on the backburner again but there will be a review of Loki's GIMP over the coming weeks (and a few other reviews it looks like!). Jonny.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Cauld Cauldron - It's No Secret If Three Know It

Thursday, 14 August 2014

New: SOS Preview Track From Next Release.

New S.O.S. Release Coming Soon.
'The Over-Stand' by Werd, Wardie Burns, Conscious Route, Blasfima Sinna, Jordan Butler, Deeko. Beat by DJ Anemate. Taken from the upcoming release on Sons of Scotland (SOS).

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