“Careful On The Way Up”
In today’s microwave ‘we-want-it-now’ world, artists are pressured to keep listeners satisfied with a near endless stream of freestyles, mix-CDs, random MP3s and, every now and then, an official album release. So with that in mind, it’s almost incomprehensible to think that Guildford’s favourite b-boys Diversion Tactics have taken eight years to drop the follow-up to their cult classic debut ‘Pubs, Drunks And Hip-Hop’. Yet whilst it’s been a minute since they’ve formed like Voltron to deliver their unapologetically hardcore brand of home-grown hip-hop, members of DT have been keeping busy individually, with Zygote, Jazz T and The Chubby Alcoholic all stretching their creative boundaries over recent years on solo releases.
Long-time fans worried the time that’s elapsed since the release of ‘Pubs, Drunks…’ might’ve led to Diversion Tactics mellowing in old-age can take comfort from the fact that ‘Careful On The Way Up’ is brimming with dusty, boom-bap production and punchy, politically-incorrect lyricism. The opening ‘No Collaborations’ sets the tone, with Chubby gleefully attacking wannabes with “accents from Hackney when your home address is Henley” over a rugged bed of banging drums, chopped samples and perfectly executed scratches. The dark ‘Three Card Brag’ features rhyme vet Blade temporarily suspending his retirement from the mic to deliver a typically self-assured display of verbal dexterity, whilst the feel-good funk of ‘Return Of The Ladies Man’ finds Chubby in mack mode, engaging in some playful sexual antics and claiming to “thrust more than a Porsche does”. Indeed.
‘Where I’m From?’ is a brilliant back-in-the-day tribute packed with crystal clear memories from a nostalgic Chubby, as the charismatic emcee recalls growing-up in the 80s listening to Mike Allen’s Capital Radio rap show, attending golden-era London jams and immersing himself in the culture of hip-hop. Staying faithful to their true-school roots, Diversion Tactics carry on the old-school tradition of allowing the deejay to showcase their skills on the instrumental ‘The Turntablists’, with former ITF champ Jazz T and Zygote unleashing a devastating dose of needle abuse. The remix of the previously released ‘NY To The UK’ features gritty performances from Bronx legends Tim Dog and Percee P.
Refusing to bow down to popular trends or pander to the masses, Diversion Tactics’ latest offering is a no-holds barred barrage of quality beats and rhymes infused with a genuine love of the art form. Real hip-hop is definitely alive and well in Surrey, let’s just hope we don’t have to wait another eight years for a third collective effort from the DT crew.