Tag Archives: M9

Album Review – Micall Parknsun & Mr Thing

park cover

Micall Parknsun & Mr Thing

“Finish What We Started”

(Village Live Records)

Genuine creative chemistry is something that’s hard to come by in any artistic partnership. It’s something magical that can’t really be fully explained by those involved, but it can definitely be felt, heard and seen by those on the outside of the process.

Chemistry doesn’t even just come down to having talent – two of the most gifted individuals in their respective fields may choose to work together, but if they’re not on the same page creatively then the end result is likely to be hollow and underwhelming.

Thankfully, that isn’t a problem UK duo Micall Parknsun and Mr Thing need to worry about, with their brilliant new album “Finish What We Started” pulsating from beginning to end with an energy that can only be achieved when people share the same drive, focus and passion for what they do.

As two of the most consistent figures within the UK Hip-Hop scene, both Parksnun and Thing have spent years building concrete-solid reputations as reliable purveyors of true-school flavour, with the pair deciding to join forces last year for the well-received single “The Raw” (which is included here in all its rugged glory).

The overwhelmingly positive response to “The Raw” inspired the duo to complete “Finish What We Started”, with DMC DJ champ Mr Thing handling all of the production, leaving Micall Parknsun, a talented producer in his own right, to concentrate on delivering lyrically throughout the project.

The anthemic album-opener “Started” sets the tone in no uncertain terms, as London-raised rhymer Park-E drops confident, self-assured bars over full-bodied, sample-driven beats.

The head-nodding “Certain For The Win” showcases some of Thing’s best work behind the boards, with the former Scratch Perverts member blending slow, deliberate drums and a hypnotic piano sample, topping it all off with some deft cuts.

“Don’t You Care” is a relentless, bass-heavy, soul-laced banger, featuring Parknsun showing the rap game some tough love via no-nonsense rhymes which come from a genuine place of love and concern for the culture (“What happened to the emcees? What happened to stage presence over dope beats? How come we keep on forgetting ’bout its history? It seems we never learn our lesson ‘cos we don’t teach…”).

“Klingon Face” is an up-tempo floor-rocker, with MP being joined by fellow UK wordsmith Joker Starr to trade quick-fire lyrics over explosive break-beats, paying tribute to Hip-Hop’s golden-era in the process. All that’s missing here is a multi-syllable late-80s verse from either Big Daddy Kane or Rakim.

The head-nodding “I’m So Glad” signals a shift in the album’s mood, with Essa (pka Yungun) and Parknsun displaying sincere gratitude for their blessings, which include marriage, fatherhood and family bonds, whilst the stirring “Still Struggling” balances the uncertainty of life as an artist with the responsibilities and financial pressures of the wider world.

An album with real replay value, “Finish What We Started” is the sound of both Micall Parknsun and Mr Thing at the top of their game, mixing old-school values with now-school skills.

Let’s hope neither of them have finished just yet.

Ryan Proctor

100 Best Albums & EPs Of 2017 (Part One) – Melanin 9 / Roc Marciano / J Scienide etc.

vinyl-rack-pic

So here we are again. Another year has come to an end. Time to look back over the last twelve months and give my traditional round-up of the beats and rhymes I had in heavy rotation throughout 2017.

It’s never easy putting ‘best-of’ lists together. Regardless of how many releases are included, it’s impossible to compile something like this without always feeling like you’re having to leave something out. But this year has been particularly difficult, given the sheer amount of quality Hip-Hop that has been released over the past 365 days.

In addition to the albums and EPs that actually made it into this five-part overview, there was approximately a further fifty included on my initial short-list, but you have to draw the line somewhere.

So, whilst there will no doubt be projects not featured here that some will feel should have been mentioned, those that made the cut have been selected based purely on being one of the releases I listened to (and enjoyed) the most throughout 2017.

That being said, huge props to every emcee, producer and deejay out there making music that comes from a genuine place of creativity and artistic integrity – your efforts are appreciated by Hip-Hop heads across Planet Rock.

But now, like we always do about this time….

Melanin 9 – “Old Pictures” (Red Snow Records) – A decade after the release of his debut project “High Fidelity”, Triple Darkness member Melanin 9 delivered arguably his best body of  solo work to date. A personal, introspective walk through the experiences, struggles and memories of the London-based lyricist, “Old Pictures” found M9 matching his impressive verses with fittingly mellow, laidback soundscapes from producers such as Ohbliv, Wun Two and Anatomy. Timeless beats and rhymes.

melanin 9 cover

O.C. – “Same Moon Same Sun: 1st Phase” (D.I.T.C. Studios) – One of the greatest emcees of all-time, Diggin’ In The Crates legend Omar Credle personified the term ‘grown man business’ on his seventh solo album, offering an assured blend of social commentary, life observations and lyrical bravado, proving that truly talented artists never lose their importance or relevance in the rap game.

same moon cover

Trauma 74 – “The God Given Image” (Evil Twin Records) – The result of a life-long passion for Hip-Hop that began in the early-80s, this debut album from UK emcee Trauma 74 was clearly a labour of love. Grounded in true-school traditions and creative integrity, “The God Given Image” was packed with accomplished wordplay and soulful boom-bap beats, resulting in a project that any fellow Hip-Hop junkie could appreciate and relate to.

trauma cover

Strizzy Strauss – “The Art Of Summarising Life” (IAmStrizzyStrauss.BandCamp.Com) – The upcoming Leicester-based lyricist definitely made his mark on the homegrown scene in 2017 with this impressive EP, full of personal, heartfelt verses delivered with street-savvy sensitivity and a sharp social awareness. Honest, life-affirming and inspirational, “The Art Of…” showcased the voice of an artist clearly keen to inject his music with substance as well as style.

strizzy strauss cover

Milano Constantine – “The Way We Were” (Different Worlds Music Group) – A tribute to the New York of yesteryear, Diggin’ In The Crates affiliate Milano utilised the top-notch, drum-heavy production of DJ Skizz and Marco Polo to reminisce about old-school fashion trends, graffiti-covered subway trains and wild nights at the Latin Quarter throughout this release, drawing on both the youthful energy of 80s Hip-Hop and the volatile Rotten Apple environment of the time for inspiration.

milano cover

Roc Marciano – “Rosebudd’s Revenge” (Marci Enterprises) – The Strong Island representative gave the game yet another back-handed pimp slap in the form of his fourth solo album, a cool-but-deadly collection of cold-blooded, elegantly-delivered rawness, evoking images of 70s Blaxploitation flicks and golden-era NY Hip-Hop in equal measures. Fresh, fly and bold.

rosebudd cover

Brother Ali – “All The Beauty In This Life” (Rhymesayers Entertainment) – Long-established as one of Hip-Hop’s most inspiring and warm-hearted artists, Minneapolis’s Brother Ali dropped a truly fitting Ant-produced soundtrack to today’s troubled times, drawing inspiration from both personal situations and global issues as he encouraged listeners to find meaning and purpose in their lives, despite the struggles and hardships we each face on a daily basis.

brother ali cover

Funky DL – “Marauding At Midnight” (Washington Classics) – Multi-talented UK artist Funky DL paid tribute to the musical genius of A Tribe Called Quest with this inspired instrumental remake of the Queens crew’s classic 1993 album “Midnight Marauders”. Achieving the difficult balance of staying faithful to ATCQ’s jazzy, low-end aesthetic whilst allowing his own musical personality to shine through, DL proved himself to be both a student and master of the production game throughout this ambitious release.

funky dl cover

Saipher Soze – “Godbody” (SaipherSoze.BandCamp.Com) – Rough, rugged and raw flavour from the Toronto emcee packed with razor-sharp rhymes and quality beats, this Finn-produced album found Soze cementing his position as one of the most skilled microphone fiends to have emerged from the Canadian underground in recent times.

saipher soze cover

Dillon & Diamond – “Black Tie Affair” (FullPlate.BandCamp.Com) – Successful in their promise of crafting “sophisticated rap music”, Atlanta-based emcee Dillon and Diggin’ In The Crates giant Diamond D mixed the rough with the smooth on this five-track EP, resulting in a polished listening experience which still bore the musical marks of dusty fingerprints.

black tie cover

Sons Phonetic – “Deloreans” (SonsPhonetic.BandCamp.Com) – Atmospheric, captivating beats and rhymes from Ireland’s mighty Sons Phonetic crew, with “Deloreans” proving once again why the multi-faceted collective can lay claim to being one of the most consistent groups in the game.

sons cover

The Almighty $amhill – “The Epilogue” (LowTechRecords.BandCamp.Com) – Bronx native $amhill delivered more of his unapologetically raw street-smart lyricism on this quality EP release, a potent dose of gritty NY flavour direct from the birthplace of Hip-Hop produced largely by the talented Preservation.

samhill cover

Es – “We Are Only Getting Older” (EsMuzik.BandCamp.Com) – Canadian lyricist Es followed up his brilliant 2014 album “Aspire To Inspire” with the equally impressive “We Are Only Getting Older”, a concept-based project dealing with Hip-Hop’s generation gap, featuring production from IV The Polymath, Rel McCoy, Kelpi Nine and more.

es cover

Eloh Kush & BudaMunk – “Fly Emperor” (AnglezInc.BandCamp.Com) – Backed by the melodic, drum-heavy production of Japan’s BudaMunk, New Jersey’s Eloh Kush mixed streetwise attitude with vividly creative wordplay on this impressive long-player.

fly emperor cover

The Cornel West Theory – “The T.A.B.L.E. Too” (TheCornelWestTheory.BandCamp.Com) – Washington D.C.’s Cornel West Theory continued to go against the grain on their fifth album release, a collection of radio-unfriendly soundscapes and challenging, thought-provoking lyrics.

cornel cover

Creestal – “Differences” (MunchieRecords.BandCamp.Com) – Talented French producer Creestal (of CM Jones fame) dug deep in his crates for this sample-driven collection of dusty flavours featuring Roc Marciano, Conway, Torae and more. Blending together raw drums, obscure loops and random film dialogue, “Differences” was a masterclass in sonic creativity.

creestal cover

J Scienide – “The Actual Heat” (JSciende-OfficialCrateMusic.BandCamp.Com) – Washington D.C.-based artist J Scienide delivered his highly-anticipated album “The Actual Heat”, an accomplished collection of sample-based beats and intelligent, witty wordplay, with the likes of Grap Luva, Kev Brown and Nolan The Ninja making notable appearances on what was easily one of 2017’s best releases.

actual heat cover

Da Buze Bruvaz – “Adebisi Hat” (Grilchy Party) – Run and DMC. Rae and Ghost. Billy Danze and Lil Fame. The key to a great rap duo is chemistry. Philly’s Him-Lo and Clever One can add themselves to that list. The Lo-Life-affiliated pair have dropped plenty of worthwhile material over the years, but this full-length effort upped the hardcore ante, with the true-school twosome verbally bullying top-drawer production with their trademark brand of boisterous, politically-incorrect punchlines.

buze bruvaz cover

MC Eiht – “Which Way Iz West” (Blue Stamp Music / Year Round Records) – Approximately two years after West Coast legend MC Eiht announced his next album would be backed by DJ Premier, the project finally saw a release. Thankfully, “Which Way…” lived up to expectations. With Eiht solidifying his OG status throughout, this long-player deservedly found itself being heralded as a standout dose of Cali attitude. Compton’s still in the house. Geeah!

eiht cover

Children Of Zeus – “The Story So Far…” (First Word Records) – Manchester’s Konny Kon and Tyler Daley have been blessing a cult following with sonic gems for some time now, but 2017 was the year the talented pair’s unique brand of soulful, Hip-Hop-influenced music started to reach a wider audience and receive the acclaim it deserved. This compilation pulled together both previously-released tracks and new material from the UK duo, paving the way for the official Zeus debut album due for release in 2018.

zeus cover

Check Part Two here.

New Joint – Remulak / M9 / Skriblah Dan Gogh

Remulak ft. M9 & Skriblah Dan Gogh – “Highlife” (@RemulakBeats / 2016)

Moody, atmospheric limited edition vinyl action from VillageLiveRecords.Com.

New Joint – M9

M9 – “Martian Dust” (@Melanin_9 / 2015)

Dope animated visuals and intricate rhymes from the Triple Darkness member.

Most Wanted – Melanin 9

Triple Darkness member Melanin 9 delivers his usual high-standard of sharp lyrical darts for the latest episode of J-Fresh’s “Most Wanted” series.

New Joint – Melanin9

melanin 9 pic

Melanin9 – “Martian Dust” (@Melanin_9 / 2015)

The London lyricist travels at magnificent speeds around the universe via intricate verses on this hypnotic Eets-produced track.

New Joint – M9

m9 cover

M9 – “Heart Shaped Box” (@Melanin_9 / 2015)

The Triple Darkness member drops some raw affection on this Aso-produced track from his forthcoming mixtape.

New Joint – Melanin 9

m9 pic

Melanin 9 – “Cheatin” (@Melanin_9 / 2014)

The Triple Darkness emcee finds himself in a tangled web of lust on this Aaliyah-sampling track.

New Joint – M9 / Tesla’s Ghost

M9 ft. Tesla’s Ghost – “Mont Blanc” (@Melanin_9 / 2014)

New visuals for this dope Anatomy-produced track previously featured on the vinyl-version of the Triple Darkness member’s 2012 album “Magna Carta”.

New Joint – Melanin 9

Melanin 9 – “Colours” (@Melanin_9 / 2014)

Loopholes-produced hypnotic head-nodder which is included as a bonus cut on the UK emcee’s vinyl EP “High Fidelity” featuring a selection of tracks originally contained on the 2007 mix-tape of the same name.

New Joint – Melanin 9

Melanin 9 – “Amulets” (@Melanin_9 / 2013)

Produced by The Summit and taken from the Triple Darkness lyricist’s forthcoming single on the Blunted Astronaut imprint.

New Joint – Ray Vendetta / Melanin 9 / Cyrus Malachi

Ray Vendetta ft. Melanin 9 & Cyrus Malachi – “3 Strike Kill” (@Ray_Vendetta / 2013)

New rugged 7th Dan-produced lyrical onslaught from the Triple Darkness camp.

Lyrical Swords – Melanin 9 / Tesla’s Ghost

Triple Darkness members Melanin 9 and Tesla’s Ghost drop some heavy mental rhymes for Chiba Visuals.

Bring Da Ruckus – Triple Darkness

Footage of the UK’s Triple Darkness camp performing in London last Friday with M9, Phoenix Da Icefire, Cyrus Malachi, newest member Iron Braydz and more proving why they’re currently one of the illest crews in Hip-Hop.

Phonaesthetics Album Sampler – Pragmatic Theory

Global Hip-Hop collective Pragmatic Theory just dropped their new free album “Phonaesthetics” featuring UK emcee M9, Keith Murray’s younger brother Fish Grease, West Coast artist Dregs One and many more.

52 Best Albums & EPs Of 2012 (Part Three) – Apollo Brown & Guilty Simpson / M9 / Showbiz & AG etc.

Apollo Brown & Guilty Simpson – “Dice Game” (Mello Music Group) – This Motown duo definitely weren’t taking a gamble when they jumped in the studio together to record this sureshot collection of rugged bangers. With Simpson injecting his rhymes with a slightly more personal feel than on previous material, Brown ensured his beats matched the tone of the Detroit emcee’s verses perfectly, whether highlighting their hometown (“Reputation”) or pondering the future (“How Will I Go”).

dice game cover

Grand Papa Tra – “Lost In New York” (GrandPapaTra.BandCamp.Com) – Not one for adhering to today’s digital norm of emailing tracks and verses back and forth to complete a project, Swiss producer Tra wanted a more authentic recording experience, so made the trip to NYC to put together this collection of East Coast-influenced cuts with the likes of Sadat X, Mic Geronimo and Royal Flush.

lost in new york cover

Prose – “Back In The Habit” (Boom Bap Professionals) – Following-up two impressive albums, “Force Of Habit” (2010) and “The Dark Side Of The Boom” (2011), UK emcee / producer partnership Efeks and Steady Rock remained true to their underground roots on this quality EP which featured the witty old-school tribute “The Class Of ’94”.

prose habit cover

Fraction & Fresh Kils – “Extra Science” (Math Music Productions) – This album could easily never have happened considering it was a chance encounter at a Toronto Hip-Hop event that led to this Canadian duo teaming-up for this release. Thankfully, the rap gods were obviously smiling on that fateful day, which in turn led to underground fans being blessed with an accomplished, polished display of musical brilliance steeped in soulful, jazzy vibes and masterful lyricism.

fraction cover

Union – “Analogtronics” (Fat Beats) – A mind-bending mix of 80s-style synths, Dilla-influenced beats and space-age imagery, Paris-based producers OJ and Gold delivered a truly unique sonic experience with this collection of intergalactic funk, taking listeners on an epic musical journey amongst the stars with the likes of Talib Kweli, MF Doom and Roc Marciano on-hand to lyrically moonwalk across their sci-fly soundscapes.

union cover

Casual & J Rawls – “Respect Game Or Expect Flames” (Nature Sounds) – An unexpected but welcome collaboration, the cocky, Oakland drawl of Hiero’s Casual was the perfect fit for veteran Ohio-based producer Rawls’ well-crafted beats on this thoroughly entertaining album.

casual rawls cover

M9 – “Magna Carta” (M9Ether.BandCamp.Com) – Easily one of the most gifted lyricists in the present-day rap game, London’s Melanin 9 filled his heavily-anticpated “Magna Carta” project with intricately woven verses packed with gritty street knowledge, political opinion and social commentary. Edutainment, indeed.

magna carta cover

Gensu Dean – “Lo-Fi Fingahz” (Mello Music Group) – Texas-based producer Dean celebrated his love of his trusty SP 1200 sampler by using it to craft a quality selection of true-school neck-snappers on this album which featured the likes of Brand Nubian, Large Professor and Count Bass D.

gensu dean cover

Heavy Links – “The Essence” (HeavyLinks.BandCamp.Com) – Midlands, UK trio Habitat, El Tel and Donnie Propa released their third EP project which, following a successful appearance at September’s Boom Bap Hip-Hop Festival, raised the crew’s profile and widened the audience for their brand of good ol’ fashioned homegrown rap.

heavy links cover

Showbiz & AG – “Mugshot Music: Preloaded” (DITC Records) – Released as a free warm-up for “Mugshot Music” proper, this might not have been considered an official album by the Bronx duo, but it was definitely much more than just a mixtape. Featuring some of Show’s best production in recent times and typically self-assured bars from Andre The Giant, “Preloaded” probably wouldn’t have left fans unsatisfied even if it had been the pair’s only 2012 release.

Showbiz & AG cover

Ryan Proctor

Part Four coming soon – check Part One and Part Two.

Album Review – Melanin 9 a.k.a. M9

magna carta cover

Melanin 9

“Magna Carta”

(M9Ether.BandCamp.Com)

Although there may be many artists today prepared to sell their soul and dumb down their content in an attempt to appeal to the masses and achieve their fifteen minutes of fame, there are still real emcees out there who aren’t willing to take the easy route, choosing instead to put hours of effort into mastering their craft, keeping their lyrical swords sharp as they walk in the footsteps of the greats that came before them. London-based lyricist Melanin 9 a.k.a. M9 is one such artist.

As both a member of the formidable Triple Darkness camp and a solo artist, the skilled wordsmith has built up an impressive catalogue of work in recent years, with each release further showcasing M9’s natural talent for dropping vivid, thought-provoking rhymes built to invigorate braincells over quality production.

A student of verbal heavyweights such as The GZA and Killah Priest, M9 has always carried his mid-90s / golden-era influences with pride, whilst ensuring his own work has resonated with sincere emotion and individuality, rather than simply sounding like a rapper struggling to find his own identity who spent too much time with Raekwon’s “Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…” album and RZA’s “Wu-Tang Manual”.

Having already set mics alight on releases such as 2007’s “High Fidelity” mixtape and 2008’s “144,000” project, “Magna Carta” stands as M9’s finest musical moment to date. A brilliantly executed display of intelligent hardcore Hip-Hop, the album is packed with memorable tracks that range from the militantly defiant to the soulfully reflective.

The opening title track captures M9’s gift for painting descriptive images in your mind’s eye as he tells how he will “pose for cameras with ex-felons using hands as weapons”, whilst the Anatomy-produced “Landslide” features melodic pianos sprinkled over bass-heavy beats like gentle rain on cold concrete, with the UK microphone fiend mixing mystical wordplay and harsh street imagery in his rhymes.

“The 7 Blues” is a stunning-yet-sombre gem, with the melancholy, string-laden production of Hey!Zeus and Madame Pepper’s pained, heart-wrenching vocals helping to extract every last drop of feeling from M9’s haunting tale of a lost soul murdered in cold blood on the streets of Britain’s capital city, with the sense of tragedy driven home by the grounded emcee’s refusal to glorify the pitfalls of urban life, instead describing the impact of senseless violence on those left behind to live with the loss (“A spirit came to his mum on the night he was killed, Something ain’t right she could feel, Like the steel he was blown with, Hands shaking as she tries to phone him, A seismic myriad of emotion, Like the unremitting vigorous waves in the ocean…”).

The hypnotic Ohbliv-produced “Love’s Stencil” finds the emcee exploring the spiritual journey he’s been on whilst attempting to balance building a successful relationship with life situations and a career in the rap game, whilst Jehst’s huge drums on “Heartless Island” sound like a giant pounding on the gate of a gothic castle, with Triple Darkness comrade Cyrus Malachi on-hand to drop a typically intricate, mind-bending verse that sees the gruff lyricist travelling from inner-city tower blocks to intergalactic stars through the power of words.

“White Russian”, the transatlantic collabo between M9 and current underground favourite Roc Marciano, is another immediate standout, with Anatomy’s dusty, shuffling beats providing a fitting sonic backdrop for Marcberg’s slick, Strong Island stylings and Melanin’s esoteric flows.

The menacing Tony Mahoney-produced “Organized Democracy” finds the forthright homegrown emcee aggressively attacking the illusion of a free society as he journeys deep into the Matrix and offers thoughts on racial profiling, police harassment and political hypocrisy (“It all adds up in statistics, It’s big business to get you shifted, This wretched State, Depends on how many arrests they make…Profits in the pockets of politicians with big properties…”).

Throughout “Magna Carta”, M9 keeps the listener’s attention with a relentless stream of inspired, multi-layered verses that deserve to be heard again and again in order to fully appreciate the energy and thought that’s been invested in them whilst absorbing the message and meaning contained within each poignant line.

Proving that it is possible to deliver street-influenced, hardcore Hip-Hop without having to appeal to the lowest common denominator, with “Magna Carta” M9 has succeeded in his mission to elevate, stimulate and edutain, delivering one of 2012’s most essential albums in the process.

Ryan Proctor

Melanin 9 – “Organized Democracy” (Melanin9.Com / 2012)

New Joint – Melanin 9 / Roc Marciano

Melanin 9 ft. Roc Marciano – “White Russian” (M9Ether.BandCamp.Com / 2012)

Dope Anatomy-produced track from the talented London emcee’s forthcoming album “Magna Carta”.

Edutainment – Melanin 9

BlatantlyBlunt.Com interview with talented UK emcee Melanin 9 discussing his influences and the inspiration behind his forthcoming album “Magna Carta”.

New Joint – Melanin9

Melanin9 – “Pistola Freestyle” (Melanin9.Com / 2012)

The talented UK emcee drops some thought-provoking lyricism over a Jay Electronica instrumental – M9’s new album “Magna Carta” drops December 3rd.