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Album Review – Joker Starr

Joker Starr


(Flukebeat Music)

Hailing from Slough, England, inimitable emcee Joker Starr has flown on and off the Hip-Hop radar over the last decade or so having worked with the likes of Blak Twang-affiliate Seanie T, DJ Blufoot, Keith Lawrence and homegrown heavyweight Ty. Finally, after getting a handful of solo releases and guest appearances under his belt, the entertaining lyricist finally drops his official debut album, a unique mix of sample-heavy beats, memorable verses and engaging concept-driven tracks.

Unlike many of today’s artists, one of Joker Starr’s main strengths is that he possesses personality in abundance and isn’t afraid to inject his music with both humour and his own individual worldview, ensuring that he immediately stands-out from the crowd and providing “Blood-Ren” with an organic feel and unpredictable quality.

Whether rhyming over gritty boom-bap beats or smoother soundscapes, spitting playful punchlines or dealing with day-to-day pressures, there’s a constant energy and authenticity to Joker’s delivery that draws the listener in, making him an easy artist to relate to. So by the time the final track on this album fades away, you genuinely feel as though you’ve been allowed to enter into Starr’s life and have gotten to know him as a person as well as a rapper.

The Miss Tofelees-produced “Celebration” opens the project with Joker Starr patting himself on the back for enduring the up-and-downs of his music career and actually getting “Blood-Ren” out to the masses, claiming “Back in the days too many devilish snakes around me, Turned mongoose in the booth, now there’s no snakes to be found.”

The dope, disjointed production supplied by Diversion Tactics’ Zygote and Jazz T on “Lost Tribe Of The Leng” provides a solid backdrop for Joker’s dark, cautionary tale of street life, whilst “Mic Jack” is an upbeat dedication to the King Of Pop himself, Michael Jackson, with Starr cleverly incorporating numerous MJ song titles into his rhymes as he describes the artist with “one glove sparkling with the socks to match” over sporadic guitar stabs and restless drums rolls.

The previously-released “Hip Hop Transition” is also included here, with the “Sierra Leone African” looking to claim his place on the rap map with passionate rhymes over Jehst’s shimmering funk-fuelled loops, whilst the Apatight-produced “Too Many Not Enough” is a sparse critique of the present-day music game and UK Hip-Hop scene (“The music industry is a mess, Uniqueness ain’t embraced just formulas for success”).

The bass-heavy “Caramel Fudge” finds Joker Starr joining forces with Eat Good Records’ Sonny Jim to chase ladies of all flavours over Apatight’s warm, soulful production, and the nimble “All I Need” shows another side to the emcee’s character as he mixes social commentary with his brand of ironic humour (“World ain’t been the same since the search for Osama, We all broke pocket just trying to make change like Obama”).

With guest appearances kept to a minimum (aside from the aforementioned Sonny Jim only Micall Parknsun and Genesis Elijah share the mic here), “Blood-Ren is very much Joker Starr’s album, making for a much stronger project than the feature-heavy albums of some of his peers.

Succeeding in crafting a full-length debut that is as true to himself as it is true to the art and culture of Hip-Hop, Joker Starr’s latest effort provides a breath of fresh air amidst the smog of blandness and conformity that pollutes so much music today.

Ryan Proctor

“Blood-Ren” Album Sampler