Tag Archives: Mr. Thing

New Joint – Micall Parknsun & Mr Thing / Joker Starr / Jehst / Essa

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Micall Parknsun & Mr Thing ft. Joker Starr, Jehst & Essa – “Klingon Face – Remix” (VillageLive.BandCamp.Com / 2019)

Huge line-up of heavyweight UK talent on this raw, breakbeat-driven reworking of one of the many standout cuts off the brilliant 2018 Parknsun / Thing album “Finish What We Started”.

100 Best Albums & EPs Of 2018 (Part One) – Masta Ace & Marco Polo / Children Of Zeus / Funky DL etc.

Politically, socially and economically, 2018 will no doubt go down in the history books as a particularly disastrous year. Wherever you looked across the globe, there was chaos, unrest and mistrust. In contrast, however, and on a more positive note, 2018 was an incredible year for new Hip-Hop.

It’s been near impossible to keep up with the vast amount of product flooding the market, with both veteran artists and a new generation of talented emcees, producers and deejays all contributing to the rich selection of beats and rhymes that have been made available over the past twelve months.

As I’ve said before when writing previous ‘best-of’ intros, some ‘heads” still seem surprised that I’m able to find a hundred releases during the course of a year that I’ve genuinely enjoyed. In reality, there have been more than that, and this 2018 selection, as with other years, has been scaled down from an original list which far exceeded that number.

So if you’re still of the opinion that quality Hip-Hop isn’t being released in high quantities, then you’re really not listening or looking hard enough – and in today’s digital era, when most of that music is available at the click of a button without you even having to leave your house, it really couldn’t be easier to find something that suits your sonic preferences.

On a mainstream level (as has largely always been the case) the best that Hip-Hop has to offer isn’t being represented. But in the underground, talent, skill and creativity are still there to be found by those prepared to dig and support.

So with all that being said, this list represents what I had in heavy rotation throughout 2018.

Props as always to all the artists out there making memorable music from a genuine place of love for this incredible culture.

Peace!

Masta Ace & Marco Polo – “A Breukelen Story” (Fat Beats) – One of the best to ever do it, since his 1990 debut long-player “Take A Look Around” Juice Crew legend Masta Ace has consistently proven himself to be a true virtuoso of the album format, delivering a long line of well-rounded, concept-based projects. This collaborative effort with the ever-impressive Marco Polo successfully bound together the pair’s individual BK-related narratives, demonstrating what quality, timeless music sounds like in the process. They live in Brooklyn, baby.

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Royce Da 5’9 – “Book Of Ryan” (Heaven Studios / eOneMusic) – Intensely personal and brilliantly executed, Detroit wordsmith Royce’s seventh album ran the full gamut of emotions, presenting the listener with a sonic photo album which captured poignant moments in the emcee’s family history, both past and present. Displaying a no-holds-barred honesty in his writing, Royce’s ability to tackle difficult subjects here such as addiction, domestic abuse and suicide, without coming across as overly judgemental or preachy, was a testament to his level of dedication to his craft. “Book Of Ryan” was an album that was shocking, humourous, tragic and inspiring in equal measures.

Children Of Zeus – “Travel Light” (First Word Records) – Arguably the best blend of Hip-Hop and soul since Mary J. Blige enquired about the 411 back in 1992, Manchester duo Konny Kon and Tyler Daley proved that hard work does pay off when, after years of building a cult fanbase for their unique brand of UK street music, the pair finally gained the wider recognition they’ve deserved for so long with the release of this brilliant debut album. An organic mix of sonic influences both past and present, “Travel Light” proudly took its place next to defining works by the likes of Loose Ends, Soul II Soul and London Posse as a truly individual example of quality British music.

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. Thankfully, that wasn’t a problem UK duo Micall Parknsun and Mr Thing had to worry about, with their brilliant album “Finish What We Started” pulsating from beginning to end with an energy that could only be achieved when people share the same drive, focus and passion for what they do. An album with real replay value, “Finish What We Started” was the sound of both Parknsun and Thing at the top of their game, mixing old-school values with now-school skills.

Superbad Solace – “Sol Controller” (SuperbadSolace.BandCamp.Com) – Teaming up with frequent collaborator Mono En Stereo (pka El RTNC), Timeless Truth member Superbad Solace went for dolo on this quality EP, reppin’ for the borough of Queens in no uncertain terms, weaving fly NY wordplay around melodic, sample-based soundscapes with impressive results.

Planet Asia – “The Golden Buddha” (Brick Records) – A key figure in the West Coast indie scene of the mid-to-late 90s, an increase in output over recent years has further proven Planet Asia to be one of the most consistent artists in the game.  Produced entirely by San Francisco’s izznyce, “The Golden Buddha” was packed with quality beats and pyramid-precise verses, with PA flowing like the Nile with authority and apparent effortlessness.

The Mouse Outfit – “Jagged Tooth Crook” (TheMouseOutfit.BandCamp.Com) – Having further refined their live, organic sound on each  of the group’s full-length releases, this third album from Manchester-based collective The Mouse Outfit was arguably the crew’s most musically sophisticated effort to date. Largely based around mellow, jazzy production laced with tinges of reggae and soul, “Jagged Tooth Crook” found the likes of Dubbul O, Black Josh and Ellis Meade dropping life-affirming lines and spontaneous styles throughout this mammoth seventeen-track project.

Showbiz – “A-Room Therapy” (DITCEnt.Com) – With sonic input from producers Motif Alumni and Dark Keys, legendary crate-digger Showbiz pulled together members of the core DITC crew and extended family affiliates for this showcase of quality Rotten Apple rap, with the likes of O.C., A.G, David Bars and the late Tashane bridging the generation gap with their undiluted rhyme skills.

Flashius Clayton – “Wolf Moon” (FlashiusClayton.BandCamp.Com) – Cali-based Knuckle Sandwich Deli representative Flashius Clayton set 2018 off the right way with this tight EP which dropped on Jan 1st. Combining competition-crushing attitude with natural rhyming ability and an ear for strong production, the West Coast wordsmith singled himself out as one to watch with this release.

Blueprint – “Two-Headed Monster” (WeightlessRecordings.Net) – Grounded in golden-era traditions yet refusing to wallow in nostalgia, veteran Ohio-based producer-on-the-mic Blueprint’s latest long-player was a shining example of thoughtful, mature Hip-Hop which succeeded in sparking your brain cells whilst making your head nod.

Farma Beats – “The Sentimental Alien” (FarmaBeats.BandCamp.Com) – Having made his name in the UK Hip-Hop scene of the 90s primarily as an emcee with London’s Bury Crew, M.U.D. Family and then Task Force, 2018 saw Farma go global with his production skills, with “The Sentimental Alien” featuring an impressive list of collaborators including Chester P, Recognize Ali and Estee Nack showcasing their skills over obscure loops and quality beats.

Scran Cartel – “Blue Plaque Candidates” (ScranCartel.BandCamp.Com) – Possibly the best combination of Hip-Hop and food since the Fat Boys cracked open a pizza box on the cover of their 1984 debut album, this collaborative project from UK duo MNSR Frites and Benny Diction contained high-protein beats and rhymes that were guaranteed to satisfy the appetite of any music connoisseur. Featuring production from Chemo, Downstroke, Blue Buttonz and more, “Blue Plaque Candidates” was three-course home-cooked goodness – no fast-food rap to be found here.

Da Buze Bruvaz – “Ni$&@tivity” (Grilchy Party) – Philly’s Clever One and Him Lo continued to steam-roller over the competition on their latest collection of put-you-in-a-headlock Hip-Hop, with the larger-than-life pair dropping aggressive-yet-entertaining punchlines and thinly-veiled threats over fittingly hardcore production from affiliates such as Shaheed Mudfoot, Claymore and Gosilla. Guard ya grill!

Kool G Rap & 38 Spesh – “Son Of G Rap” (38Spesh.BandCamp.Com) – A collection of unapologetically raw street knowledge  which attempted to join the dots between various eras in New York Hip-Hop, “Son Of…” found lyrical architect Kool G Rap passing the baton to Rochester’s 38 Spesh, with the likes of Cormega, AZ and Meyhem Lauren on-hand to rep for the Rotten Apple over production from sonic craftsman such as DJ Premier, Pete Rock and The Alchemist.

Funky DL – “Blackcurrent Jazz 3” (FunkyDL.Bandcamp.Com) – As suggested by its title, this release from London-based producer-on-the-mic Funky DL was grounded in the UK veteran’s love of all things soulful and jazzy, with his witty couplets and entertaining story-telling rhymes meshing perfectly with a seamless sample-based blend of mellow pianos, smooth horns and 90s-influenced beats. He got the jazz, he got the jazz.

Kyo Itachi – “Night Life” (ShinigamieRecords.BandCamp.Com) – France’s king of boom-bap Kyo Itachi pulled together an impressive guest list for this well-executed collection of underground gems, with the likes of Artifacts, Keith Murray and Milano Constantine displaying their well-tested skills over head-nodding, full-bodied production.

Spnda & Grubby Pawz – “Holographic” (CityYardMusic.BandCamp.Com) – Following up their brilliant 2017 project “Steel Sharpens Steel”, Boston’s Spnda and Grubby Pawz once again showcased their creative chemistry on this equally impressive project, a collection of masterfully vivid rhymes and superbly selected samples stitched together with a sci-fi undertone.

Rasheed Chappell – “First Brick” (RasheedChappell.BandCamp.Com) – Seven years since the release of his critically-acclaimed debut album “Future Before Nostalgia”, NY-based emcee Rasheed Chappell joined forces once again with production legend Kenny Dope  for this undiluted dose of East Coast Hip-Hop, demonstrating growth in his already impressive writing abilities, drawing inspiration from yesterday whilst looking towards tomorrow.

Ray Vendetta & Karnate – “The Master Chambers LP” (PrestigiousRecordings1.BandCamp.Com) – Having already proven himself to be one of the game’s most consistent and hard-working emcees, London-based lyricist Ray Vendetta didn’t take any time off in 2018, with this Karnate-produced album ranking as arguably the Triple Darkness member’s most complete body of work, highlighting all facets of Vendetta’s rhyming abilities, from street-savvy barbs to moments of subtle personal reflection.

Milano Constantine – “Attache Case” (FXCKRXP.BandCamp.Com) – Co-signed by both Big Pun and Big L, Diggin’ In The Crates affiliate Milano is an emcee who has always stayed dedicated to the art of lyricism and this project with Netherlands-based producer Oh Jay didn’t find the Rotten Apple representative deviating from his path. Action-packed wordplay and drama-fuelled soundscapes were the order of the day here, with Milano yet again standing head-and-shoulders above most of his competition on the microphone.

Part Two coming soon.

Album Review – Micall Parknsun & Mr Thing

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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

New Joint – Micall Parknsun & Mr Thing / Melanin 9

Micall Parknsun & Mr Thing ft. Melanin 9 – “8 Bricks” (@VillageLiveRec / 2018)

Subterranean beats and rhymes of the highest quality from the UK duo’s new collabo album “Finish What We Started” dropping via Village Live Records.

New Joint – Micall Parknsun & Mr Thing

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Micall Parknsun & Mr Thing – “Don’t You Care” (VillageLive.BandCamp.Com / 2018)

UK lyricist Micall Parknsun spits with passion and purpose over Thing’s rolling drums on this relentless head-nodder off the pair’s forthcoming collabo album “Finish What We Started”.

Finish What We Started Album Sampler – Micall Parknsun & Mr Thing

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UK Hip-Hop vets Micall Parknsun and Mr Thing have joined forces for this epic full-length journey into the art of lyricism and science of beat-digging, with the likes of Melanin 9 and Children Of Zeus’s Konny Kon offering support – pre-order here via Village Live Records.

New Joint – Mr. Thing & Micall Parknsun

Mr. Thing & Micall Parknsun – “The Raw” (@DJMrThing / @MicallParknsun / / 2017)

Dope lead single from the UK duo’s forthcoming album “Let’s Finish What We Started”.

My Favourite Favourites Mix Stream – Mr Thing

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UK turntable legend Mr Thing pulls out an impressive selection of his 90s vinyl collection for this entertaining throwback mix, featuring timeless gems from Redman, Erule, Brand Nubian and more.

Live At The Throwdown EP Sampler – Danny Spice & The Wildstyle Tribute Band

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UK producer Danny Spice has enlisted the help of a talented crew of Hip-Hop heads for this dope sample-driven EP including Brand Nubian’s Sadat X, Soundsci’s Oxygen and Brit deck-wrecker Mr. Thing.

Album Review – Mr Thing

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Mr Thing

“Strange Breaks & Mr Thing III”

(BBE Records)

Release Date: May 19th 2014

In the beginning, there were the breaks. When the musical foundations of Hip-Hop were being laid down at 70s Bronx block parties, there were the breaks. When Herc, Flash and Bambaataa were soaking the labels off records in their bath tubs to prevent the competition from discovering their secret musical weapons, it was all about the breaks. That portion of often random and obscure records stacked with heavy drums and persistent percussion, offering that short moment of sonic bliss that was guaranteed to push the hardcore b-boys in a crowd to pull out their most impressive and energetic moves, raising the energy again and again as the break section from the likes of “Apache” and “It’s Just Begun” boomed through South Bronx speakers wired to lamp-posts.

Move forward into the 80s and 90s, and the breaks still reigned supreme in Hip-Hop, fuelling the creative urges of everyone from Marley Marl and an N.W.A-era Dr. Dre, on to Lord Finesse, DJ Premier, Madlib and many, many more. With countless producers and music lovers spending hours tucked away in dank record store basements, digging relentlessly through endless piles of disregarded wax in the hope of finding that one record that would make it all worthwhile.

Today, regardless of technological advances in music equipment and the shift in the sound of mainstream rap towards a colder, more electronic sound, for many, it’s still all about those breaks. Record stores. Charity shops. Car-boot sales. Anywhere that vinyl can be found, dusty-fingered diggers the world over still find themselves on a never-ending quest, looking for the perfect beat.

The art of digging is a serious business. For many, it’s more than just a passion, it’s an obsession. That moment of recognition as a familiar sample or unheard break crackles through the grooves after a long day spent trawling through crates of vinyl is the stuff that digger’s dreams are made of.

Whilst some beat junkies still operate under the secretive breaks code of our Hip-Hop forefathers, thankfully, for those of us who lack the storage space, there are those individuals happy to share at least some of their musical treasures for our listening enjoyment. Such as the UK’s Mr Thing.

Rising to prominence in the 90s as a formidable turntablist and member of the Scratch Perverts crew, Thing has gone on to bless a number of artists with both his deck-wrecking skills and production prowess, over the years working with the likes of Mark B, The Creators, Jehst and Essa (previously known as Yungun).

As Thing’s vinyl collection has continued to grow to match the size of his reputation for rocking shows, the UK crate-digger has found himself joining forces with longstanding London-based label BBE, releasing the first volume of “Strange Breaks & Mr Thing” in 2008, providing an outlet for the former DMC champion to showcase some of his rarer musical finds (and if you’ve been lucky enough to check any of Thing’s underground “Anorak” mixes or 2012’s “Nerd Is Bond” then you’ll already know exactly how deep this man digs).

With the third installment of the “Strange Breaks…” series, Thing has pulled together another quality selection of eclectic tracks that range from funky disco and schizophrenic jazz  to dramatic soundtrack vibes and psychedelic rock flavours.

Kick-starting proceedings with the slick, swaggering 1976 Disco Orchestral monster “Do It Again”, Thing unearths gem after gem, such as the gritty Civil Rights era soul of The Internationals’ “Give A Damn”, the organic, horn-driven 70s funk of “One More Time, You All” from New Jersey’s Nu-Sound Express, Ltd, and on to the relentless rhythm section of “La Da Da” from Edwin Starr’s backing band Dynamic Concept.

Elsewhere, Amral’s Trinidad Cavaliers deliver the upbeat “It Sure Is Funky”,  a steel-drum cover of Ripple’s 1973 classic “I Don’t Know What It Is, But It Sure Is Funky” (as sampled by Special Ed and Kid ‘N’ Play), whilst the infectious guitar licks and rolling drums of Smiling Hard’s “Fire To The Galleon” deliver combustive, fast-paced funk of the highest order.

Throughout, Thing literally lays in the cut, choosing to smoothly segue the music together and drop some subtle back-and-forth turntable action when the break portion of certain tracks begin, rather than feeling the need to stamp his mark all over the project with constant crab-scratches and frantic flares. Sometimes, all a talented deejay needs to do is simply let a good record play, and this is an element of his craft that Mr Thing appears to understand completely.

Whilst snippets of some tracks included here will be familiar to fans of Eric B. & Rakim, The Beatnuts and The Alchemist, there is still much to discover for even the sharpest of sample fanatics.

A true musical education, with this latest addition to his “Strange Breaks…” catalogue, Mr Thing has once again combined his knowledge, technical skill and ear for a quality tune to great effect.

If your own crates suddenly don’t seem that deep or impressive after listening to this hand-picked collection of choice cuts, well, those are the breaks.

Ryan Proctor

Follow Mr Thing On Twitter – @DJMrThing

Follow BBE Records On Twitter – @BBEMusic

Disco Orchestral – “Do It Again” (DJM Records / 1976)

 

Nothing Leaves The House – Mr. Thing / First Word Records

First Word Records invited producers Tall Black Guy, Eric Lau and kidkanevil to dig through the record collection of UK turntable titan Mr. Thing to find some inspiration for what would become the four-track “Nothing Leaves The House” Record Store Day vinyl release.

#FRMX3 EP Download – Essa

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The UK emcee formerly known as Yungun drops the third in his freestyle / remix EP series featuring input from Mr. Thing, SkinnyMan and Inspectah Deck – download here.

The B-Line EP Sampler – Sir Beans OBE / Mr. Thing / Jabba Tha Kut etc.

Sampler of the forthcoming six-track release “The B-Line EP” featuring a variety of true-school UK talent such as Sir Beans OBE, Agent Finch & Specifik, Chrome, Mo Rock and more.

The View From The Other Side: J Dilla Documentary Trailer – Shortee Blitz / Mr. Thing / DJ Sarah Love

Trailer for the forthcoming Shernay LaTouche-directed documentary “The View From The Other Side: J Dilla A European Remembrance” which was filmed over two-and-a-half years in London, Paris, Lausanne and Berlin.

Mystrogen Album Sampler – Mystro

You can always rely on London’s Mystro to come with something fresh and here the talented emcee puts a unique visual spin on the concept of the album sampler as he drops snippets from his long-awaited “Mystrogen” project which is out next week.

The FRMX EP Download – Yungun & Mr. Thing

Words From Yungun:

“What’s a FRMX?  Well it’s halfway between a freestyle and a remix. Have a listen and it’ll make sense. These are alternative versions of a few tracks from the “Grown Man Business” album and the “Jack The World” mixtape. Me and Mr. Thing did them just for fun – hope you enjoy them too!”

Download here.

New Joint – Rewd Adams & The Last Skeptik / Mr. Thing

Rewd Adams & The Last Skeptik ft. Mr. Thing – “Bring It Back” (RoadSound / 2012)

Taken from the UK duo’s forthcoming album “How Not To Make A Living”.

Jack The World Mixtape Download – Yungun / Mr. Thing

Talented UK emcee Yungun drops his long-awaited mixtape project “Jack The World” in conjunction with turntable favourite Mr. Thing with input from Doc Brown, Guru, I.G. Culture, Wajeed and more – download here.

New Joint – Yungun

Yungun – “Time To Rearrange” (Yungun.BandCamp.Com / 2011)

Third leak from the UK emcee’s “Jack The World” online mixtape project which drops tomorrow.

Words From Yungun:

“I originally wrote this track for the album of the same name by Aaron Jerome on BBE. After we did the party track “Late Night Mission” I wanted to do something more downtempo and contemplative.  A lot of people these days just focus on instant-gratification sing-along tunes because they think people’s attention spans are short, but I’ve always loved writing things that are a little more thought provoking. For YG fans, this is in the vein of “City Breaks”, “What Eye See” and “Peter Pan Syndrome”. Well anyway, it took me a while to come up with the concept and I didn’t manage to submit the track in time for the mastering deadline. Quite ironic given the subject matter! I think it stands up as a track in its own right so it’s time to let you guys hear it. Enjoy!”

New Joint – Yungun / Mr. Thing

Yungun – “Open Your Eyes – Mr. Thing Remix” (Yungun.BandCamp.Com / 2011)

The UK emcee reinterprets an Organized Konfusion classic for his forthcoming mixtape project “Jack The World”.

Words From Yungun:

“This track started life as a demo for an album project that I was working on with I.G. Culture, legendary West London producer and pioneer of the broken beat sound – and many other sounds too, I might add!  I.G. had the idea of doing a broken beat take on the classic Organized Konfusion track of the same name.  He put together a beat and I laid down some demo verses but then disaster struck – we were about three quarters of the way through the I.G./Y.G. project when I.G.’s hard drive died and we lost all the data.  Lesson learned…back up…back up…back up…then back up your back-up! Luckily, I still had some early demos from sessions I’d done in my own studio.  I took the parts to Mr. Thing and we put together this remix, blending in elements of I.G.’s beat with some of the original breaks that the Organized track was based on (beat-heads, you know what it is … ).  So what you’re hearing now is kind of a phoenix from the flames – I like to think that makes it hot!”