Coops – “Crowded” (@HighFocusUK / 2019)
Melodic food for thought taken from the UK emcee’s excellent Talos-produced album “Life In The Flesh”.
Coops – “Crowded” (@HighFocusUK / 2019)
Melodic food for thought taken from the UK emcee’s excellent Talos-produced album “Life In The Flesh”.
Coops – “Rude Bwoi” (@HighFocusUK / 2019)
One of the many standouts from the London lyricist’s brilliant 2018 Talos-produced album “Life In The Flesh”.
DJ Muggs & Roc Marciano – “KAOS” (SoulAssassins.Com) – Following the 2018 release of both “RR2” and “Behold A Dark Horse”, Roc Marci teamed-up with Cypress Hill’s Muggs to put together what resulted in being arguably the best of the three projects. Whilst Muggs’ dark trademark production style may not have seemed the first choice to fit with the Strong Island emcee’s laidback, conversational flow, the pair brought the best out of each other here, with the West Coast music man largely supplying Roc with a string of 70s soundtrack-style samples to lay his lyrical pimp-hand down on.
Evidence – “Weather Or Not” (Rhymesayers.Com) – The third solo album from Dilated Peoples member Evidence, this project found the West Coast emcee capturing an almost melancholy vibe, an observation which isn’t meant to sound negative at all. As down-to-earth as always, Evidence delivered his usual high-standard of blue-collar beats and rhymes, expertly mixing personal reflection with claims of lyrical dominance over production from the likes of The Alchemist, Nottz and DJ Premier. Let it rain!
Shay D – “Human Writes” (ShayDMusic.Com) – London-based emcee Shay D’s growth as an artist over recent years has been inspiring to witness, culminating in this project which is arguably her finest body-of-work to date, effectively blending spoken-word and rap, at times blurring the lines between Hip-Hop and grime with bold confidence. Painfully personal, proudly feminist and undeniably street-savvy, “Human Writes” stood as an artistic triumph which refused to be squeezed into the usual boxes female artists often find themselves confined to. Ladies first!
Knowledge The Pirate – “Flintlock” (Treasure Chest Entertainment / FXCKRXP.BandCamp.Com) – The Roc Marciano-affiliated Pirate has been moving behind-the-scenes within the music industry for years now, with the brilliant “Flintlock” finally giving the East Coast emcee the opportunity to captain his own sonic ship. Detailed hustler tales were delivered here with an understated suggestion of menace, matched perfectly by the soulful, drama-laced production of Elemnt, Roc Marc, Mushroom Jesus and Knowledge himself. Vivid, cinematic crime rhymes. Ahoy!
Juga-Naut – “Bon Vivant” (JugaNaut.BandCamp.Com) – Nottingham’s Juga-Naut is a craftsman with words. Next level talent. This impressive album showcased the UK emcee in all his larger-than-life lyrical glory, masterfully weaving confidently delivered verses with style and finesse around high-grade production from the likes of Cappo, Joe Buhdha and Jugz himself. There are some individuals who were just born to rhyme and “Bon Vivant” proved that Juga-Naut definitely falls into that category.
Ty Farris – “No Cosign Just Cocaine 2” (TyFarris.BandCamp.Com) – Street-wise swagger and lyrical dexterity collided on this project with memorable results, as Detroit’s Ty Farris navigated his way through beats from Trox, Stu Bangas and Foulmouth (to name just a few) with focus, purpose and a razor-sharp tongue.
Coops – “Life In The Flesh” (HighFocus.BandCamp.Com) – A thoroughly captivating and engrossing listening experience, this concept-based project from UK emcee Coops was a weighty mix of both style and substance. Produced entirely by the talented Talos, the album documented the London resident’s unique perspective on the struggles and challenges of modern-day life in Britain, showcasing the voice of an artist who is as spiritually-aware as he is socially-aware.
Benny The Butcher – “Tana Talk 3” (GriseldaxFR.Com) – Griselda’s Benny upped the ante on this epic project, following in the footsteps of artists such as Jay-Z and Scarface as he gave listeners the full spectrum of the street life experience, including the losses, betrayals and regrets. Backed by fittingly sombre production from Daringer and The Alchemist, Benny delivered a true masterpiece here.
Recognize Ali – “The Outlawed” (Greenfield Music / GourmetDeluxxx.BandCamp.Com) – Possessing a tireless work ethic, Ali has blazed his own trail through the underground in recent times with a string of consistently strong releases. This album found the Greenfield emcee once again demonstrating his formidable rhymes skills over production from the likes of Farma Beats, Big Ghost Ltd and Frank Grimes.
Daniel Son & Futurewave – “Pressure Cooker” (BrownBagMoney.BandCamp.Com) – Two of Canada’s finest Hip-Hop talents joined forces to craft this raw-yet-creative example of hardcore Hip-Hop, with the pair sharing an undeniable chemistry which ensured this album remained engaging throughout, as Daniel Son used the drum-heavy production of Futurewave for lyrical dart target-practice.
The Diceman – “The Power Of Now” (KingOfTheBeats.Com) – As a member of veteran Bronx crew The Legion, Dice’s Hip-Hop credentials are unquestionable. On this dope solo album, the Rotten Apple rhymer delivered rugged, witty rhymes over speaker-shaking boom-bap beats, resulting in an album that was grounded in golden-era traditions without sounding stuck in the past. The Bronx keeps creating it.
DJ Jazzy Jeff – “M3” (DJJazzyJeff215.BandCamp.Com) – Presenting the third and final instalment of his “Magnificent” album trilogy, Philly legend Jazzy Jeff gave listeners his usual high-quality trademark blend of Hip-Hop, soul and jazz on a project which was life-affirming, thought-provoking and thoroughly entertaining. With The Trinity (Rhymefest, Dayne Jordan and Uhmeer) bridging the generation gap on mic duties, “M3” offered sonic sustenance in today’s troubled times.
Black Thought – “Streams Of Thought Vol. 2” (Passyunk Productions / Human Re Sources) – Illadelph icon Black Thought is one of the greatest of all-time. That shouldn’t even be up for debate at this stage in his career. Showcasing his always on-point blend of street knowledge, social observations, life lessons and emcee bravado over loose, funky Salaam Remi-orchestrated soundscapes, Thought continued to set the standard for anyone claiming to be a lyricist.
Apollo Brown & Joell Ortiz – “Mona Lisa” (MelloMusicGroup.BandCamp) – Detroit producer Apollo Brown has made a career out of working with already impressive artists and being able to bring just that little bit more out of them (Skyzoo, Ras Kass, O.C. etc). Capturing Brooklyn’s Joell Ortiz at a potential crossroads following the Slaughterhouse split, “Mona Lisa” was the sound of an emcee taking stock of both his career and his life, world-weary but not bitter, experienced but not jaded, realistic but looking for a better tomorrow.
Nowaah The Flood & The Architect – “Trill Life Mathematiks” (NowaahTheFlood7.BandCamp.Com) – Texas-based wordsmith Nowaah was one of a crop of upcoming emcees who put their stamp on 2018 via a strong work ethic, quality music and genuine rhyme skills. Produced by the Bay Area’s Architect (of Homeliss Derilex fame), “Trill Life…” found Flood dropping street-based science and righteous rawness over a strong selection of impeccable beats.
Chuck D As Mistachuck – “Celebration Of Ignorance” (ChuckDAsMistachuck.BandCamp.Com) – Public Enemy’s Rhyme Animal returned to burn on this C-Doc-produced project with assistance from P.E. 2.0’s Jahi. Speaking his mind as always, Chuck D took the opportunity to address numerous political and social issues impacting Trump’s Amerikkka and beyond, proving that after thirty-plus years since his debut on wax, the Strong Island legend still doesn’t rhyme for the sake of riddling.
Hermit & The Recluse (Animoss & Ka) – “Orpheus vs. The Sirens” (BrownsvilleKa.Com) – Brooklyn’s master craftsman Ka took listeners on another lyrical odyssey with this concept-based project. Packed with rich imagery, Ka’s verses here were delivered with incredible skill, woven together by life experience and creative genius, complimented by the dramatic, emotionally-charged work of Cali producer Animoss.
Habitat – “617 Black Label” (HeavyLinks.BandCamp.Com) – Heavy Links member Habitat came correct on his second solo album, pulling together a number of talented producers (including Giallo Point, DJ Severe and CrabbMan) to deliver the boom-bap backbone he was looking for. Full of forthright rhymes and true-school attitude, this was another strong outing for the UK emcee.
Codenine & Grubby Pawz – “Auerbach’s Garden” (CityYardMusic.BandCamp.Com) – Backed by some of the smoothest production to be heard in 2018 courtesy of Grubby Pawz, Massachusetts-based microphone fiend Codenine cut through the mellow mood music on offer here with consistently impressive displays of sharp, intricately-woven wordplay.
Stanza Divan – “Poetry In Motion” (StanzaDivan.BandCamp.Com) – Although it was billed as a mixtape rather than an official album or EP release, this impressive offering from Leicester-based artist Stanza Divan needed to be included here, as the lyrical skill, content and conviction contained within “Poetry In Motion” doesn’t come along every day. Definitely an artist to watch in 2019.
Coops – “Free Up” (@HighFocusUK / 2018)
Powerful visuals for this Talos-produced cut off the UK emcee’s brilliant album “Life In The Flesh”.
Fliptrix ft. Coops – “Inhale” (@HighFocusUK / 2018)
Chemo-produced cut from the UK artist’s brilliant recently-released album “INEXHALE”.
Coops – “Guerillas” (@HighFocusUK / 2018)
Well-executed social commentary taken from the UK artist’s new album “Life In The Flesh”.
(High Focus Records)
One of the greatest pleasures as a fan of music is to see and hear an artist you’ve followed since the beginning of their career truly grow with each release. That doesn’t mean changing a signature style or offering a completely different sound each time said artist drops a new project, instead I’m referring to the growth that occurs when an artist is able to expand their creative boundaries with confidence, having honed their craft to a point of true mastery and expertise.
London-born, Brighton-based emcee Fliptrix is an individual whom all of the above applies to.
Having dropped his debut album “Force Fed Imagery” in 2007, the past decade has seen the talented wordsmith deliver a massive seven solo albums (including this latest full-length effort), whilst also recording two projects as a member of the mighty Four Owls collective alongside Leaf Dog, Verb T and BVA.
All of which would be impressive enough, yet when you also take into consideration the fact that, artistic endeavours aside, Fliptrix has worked tirelessly to build the High Focus label he established back in 2010 into a true independent powerhouse with a dedicated fanbase (helping to provide an outlet for artists such as Dabbla, Ocean Wisdom and Strange U), it becomes clear that his passion for music runs extremely deep.
It may not seem that long ago since Fliptrix was considered a new voice within the UK Hip-Hop scene, but on “INEXHALE” the emcee who was once a student has now become a master.
Fliptrix is a lyricist’s lyricist. A writer’s writer. It’s been evident throughout his career that this microphone fiend has a real love for the process of piecing words together, meticulously crafting line after line, resulting in verses that are full of vivid imagery, life observations and, at times, esoteric thinking.
Fliptrix doesn’t make background music. His rhymes are written with the intention of the listener having to fully engage with them, demanding your complete attention so you can follow, understand and interpret what is being said as the emcee’s train of thought takes you on a lyrical journey from one point of reference to the next.
Possessing a tone, flow and delivery which is as effective puncturing holes in the egos of his competition as it is delivering commentary on aspects of the human experience, all facets of Fliptrix’s artistry are brought together brilliantly on “INEXHALE”, with the project giving a sincere nod of respect to UK Hip-Hop’s past whilst boldly striding forward into its future.
Backed by ambitious and skilfully delivered production from Chemo, Joe Corfield and Molotov, Fliptrix has selected an ideal array of soundscapes for “INEXHALE” over which to let his mind float.
The opening “Inhale” is an immediately captivating combination of swirling keys, wispy vocal samples and knocking drums courtesy of the always impressive Chemo, with Fliptrix commenting on today’s social media generation whilst recent High Focus signee Coops is on-hand to drop an intense, attention-grabbing guest verse.
The hypnotic “Flying” is a beautifully crafted slice of mind-expanding rap, with the weightless vibe of Chemo’s spacey synths and Carmody’s delicate vocals inspiring Fliptrix to have an out-of-body lyrical experience (“I’m levitating through wisdom to planes of escapism, From Great Britain to intergalactical states tripping…”).
“Bagging Up Music” is a boisterous blend of traditional punchline-laced rap and contemporary sonic flavours, whilst Molotov’s haunting, piano-laced production on “The Window” fits perfectly with Fliptrix’s plea for a unified world in which people see common ground rather than division (“Take visions to a limitless place, Go within find grace, You’re living by the colour of your skin? That’s waste, Or the place that you’re born, Or religion you’re in, You’re divided, Ain’t realised you’re united, See through the fabric of time like psychics, You are really God, It’s just that people trick you, Your spirit lives through…”).
Ocean Wisdom and Onoe Caponoe feature on the infectious “Inside The Ride”, a dope combination of double-time flows and off-kilter beats. The Joe Corfield-produced “Thriller” is another of the album’s impressive collaborations, with Fliptrix joined by inimitable UK Hip-Hop legend Skinnyman for a relentless display of rhyme power.
The closing “Exhale” finds Fliptrix acknowledging where he’s been on his journey and where he’s yet to go over a deep, mellow groove, making it clear that he is an artist who intends to continue living up to his potential (“It’s all manifestation, dedication, Every minute, every day, I’m always elevating…”).
Truth be told, there’s something therapeutic about listening to “INEXHALE”. The project resonates with a feeling, an energy, a vibration that does more than simply make your head-nod or inspire you to pick-out a few favourite quotables.
As dead prez once said, one thing ’bout music, when it hit you feel no pain, and Fliptrix is most definitely on target with his latest sonic opus.
Long may the man’s artistic travels continue.
“INEXHALE” is available here.