Tag Archives: Statement Of Intent

52 Best Albums & EPs Of 2012 (Part One) – Roc Marciano / Mystro / House Shoes etc.

vinyl rack pic

With 2012 almost out the door, it’s about that time for magazines, websites and blogs to take the customary look back over the last twelve months to highlight those releases most worthy of recognition for really hitting the sonic bullseye during the course of the year.

Whilst the usual debates concerning the state of Hip-Hop have continued to rage on street corners, social media sites and everywhere else music fans may congregate, inbetween the vast amount of mediocre and downright terrible music that’s come from the mainstream / underground rap worlds during 2012, there’s also been a decent number of impressive album and EP releases from various corners of Planet Rock which have all delivered in terms of quality, creativity and overall dopeness.

As I always say when putting a list like this together, the projects and artists included in this 2012 round-up aren’t the only names and releases that were worth checking over the last year, but they are the ones that spent the most time booming out of my headphones and speakers.

So, in no particular order…

Roc Marciano – “Reloaded” (Decon) – With the release of 2010’s “Marcberg” album transforming Strong Island’s Roc Marciano from respected underground emcee to Hip-Hop cult hero, the former UN member refined his Rotten Apple sound even further on this sophomore solo shot, delivering a relentless barrage of vivid wordplay over melodic, minimalist production.

roc marci cover

Nas – “Life Is Good” (Def Jam) – Arguably Queensbridge’s favourite son’s most cohesive and consistent body of work since 1994’s timeless “Illmatic”. Nas might not have chalked-up another universal classic with his latest album, but he did sound more comfortable in his own skin on this project than he has done in a long time, as he reminisced about 90s New York, dealt with parental responsibility and reflected on his recent marriage problems.

nas cover 1

Mystro – “Mystrogen” (Don’t Bizznizz) – Having started 2012 amidst rumours of retirement, veteran London emcee MysDiggi laid any such talk to rest with the release of his long-awaited debut full-length, lacing a varied selection of up-beat production from the likes of Mr. Thing and Black Einstein with his witty verses, leftfield life observations and sharp humour.

mystro pic 3

DJ Premier & Bumpy Knuckles – “Kolexxxion” (Gracie Productions / Works Of Mart) – The infamous Freddie Foxxx teaming-up with hardcore composer DJ Premier for a full-length project was always going to result in something memorable and “Kolexxxion” definitely lived up to expectations. Bumpy proudly displayed his OG stripes, schooling upcoming artists on the rules of the game and giving his opinion on the state of the culture, whilst Premier crafted an impeccable selection of thoroughbred bangers tough enough to crack concrete.

kolexxxion cover

Keith Science – “Vessels Of Thought Volume II” (Central Wax Records) – A polished collection of instrumentals from the New Jersey-based producer, this album encompassed a number of different musical vibes and emotions, ranging from jazzy optimism to aggressive boom-bap, with each track maintaining its own unique sonic personality thanks to Science’s mastery of true-school Hip-Hop production.

keith science cover

Apollo Brown & OC – “Trophies” (Mello Music Group) – Having built himself a solid reputation as the go-to man for drum-heavy underground production, Detroit’s Apollo Brown tested his talents to the limit by joining forces with legendary D.I.T.C. emcee OC, resulting in a quality concept-driven album full of head-nodding beats and lyrical jewels that contained enough creative chemistry to make the uninitiated think the pair had been recording together for years.

trophies cover

Timeless Truth – “Brugal & Presidentes” (Timeless Truth) – Steeped in Rotten Apple heritage, Queens, NY brothers Solace and Oprime39 paid homage to their city’s traditional boom-bap sound on this EP unleashed at the top of 2012 without sounding like they were simply chasing the musical ghosts of a lost era. The duo’s intense, sample-heavy style and ferocious verbal artillery kept heads salivating all year for the release of their recent full-length “Rock-It Science”.

timeless truth ep

Del The Funky Homosapien & Parallel Thought – “Attractive Sin” (Parallel Thought Ltd) – Ice Cube’s cousin has faced criticism in recent times for being just a little too off-the wall on some of his solo material, but whether it was a conscious decision or just natural creativity, on this Parallel Thought-produced project the Hiero emcee sounded more focused than he has in a long time. Backed by beats ranging from anthemic West Coast funk (“On Momma’s House”) to breakbeat-driven old-school flavour (“1520 Sedgewick”), Del delivered a potent lession in lyrical excellence that recalled the brilliance of his early critically-acclaimed work.

del album cover

DJ Format – “Statement Of Intent” (Project Blue Book) – A rejuvenated Format returned to burn on his third album, pulling together musical influences that ranged from old-school New York block parties and 80s electro to golden-era greatness, creating a diverse but ultimately-satisfying musical mosaic featuring the likes of Edan, Mr. Lif and Phill Most Chill holding down microphone duties. An entertaining sonic journey back to the future.

dj format cover

House Shoes – “Let It Go” (Tres Records) – A close friend of the late, great Dilla and a talented producer in his own right, Detroit’s House Shoes pulled together an impressive line-up of Motown talent such as Black Milk and Guilty Simpson plus a few out-of-towners (Roc Marciano, The Alchemist etc) to ensure his official debut album was something to remember. Clearly feeling he had something to prove to the non-believers out there, “Let It Go” wasn’t just the sound of a producer putting together a typical compilation-style album, this was the sound of a man on a musical mission.

house shoes album cover

Ryan Proctor

Part Two coming soon.

Statement Of Intent Tour Video – DJ Format & The Simonsound

Feature-length video combining both music, visuals and footage from DJ Format’s recent European tour promoting his brilliant “Statement Of Intent” album – this is absolute genius!

New Joint – DJ Format / Sureshot La Rock

DJ Format ft. Sureshot La Rock – “Remember (Beatbox Version)” (Slice-Of-Spice.Com / 2012)

Snippet of the exclusive remix of this nostalgia-driven track which will form part of Slice-Of-Spice’s special vinyl collectors release of DJ Format’s recent album “Statement Of Intent”.

Album Review – DJ Format

DJ Format

“Statement Of Intent”

(Project Blue Book Records)

It’s been nearly a decade since the release of UK vinyl junkie DJ Format’s 2003 debut album “Music For The Mature B-Boy” and seven years since its follow-up, 2005’s “If You Can’t Join ‘Em…Beat ‘Em”. Since then the Brighton-based producer’s presence on wax has been fairly limited, with Format becoming known more for his party-rocking live deejay sets and mixes than his own musical output. But, as its title suggests, with this third album the dedicated crate-digger returns to remind listeners of his capabilities behind the boards with what appears to be a renewed sense of vigour.

To these ears, “Statement Of Intent” showcases the work of a rejuvenated Format. It’s not that any of the tracks included here are a million miles away from the producer’s trademark mix of obscure samples, deft cuts and hand-picked underground lyricists, but there does seem to be a grittier, more aggressive feel to this project in places compared to Format’s past work, as if he really felt he had something to prove this time around (perhaps to himself more than others). If so, that sense of purpose and determination has definitely led to some positive results in the studio.

Having worked closely on previous releases with Canada’s Abdominal, this time around it’s Washington D.C.-raised Diggers With Gratitude emcee Sureshot La Rock who maintains a constant and welcome presence throughout “Statement Of Intent”. The opening title track finds the talented wordsmith giving props to some of the pair’s shared old-school influences, name-checking the likes of Melle Mel and Grandmaster Caz over expertly chopped beats and a variety of fast-moving samples. Whilst on the Levi 167-sampling “Dope Pusher”, La Rock peppers the track’s dense soundscape with cocky, larger-than-life boasts.

The relentless “Spaceship Earth” features Boston’s Edan travelling at magnificent speeds around the universe, dropping a rapid multi-syllable flow that would make Big Daddy Kane smile over rattling drums and whip-lashing psychedelic guitar (“Starting a colony deep in the galaxy must be the aim of astronomy, Crooked economy killing ecology”).

On the instrumental side, the dusty vibes, old-school chants and free-flowing funk of “Beyond Disco” (co-produced by The Simonsound) evokes the eclectic feel of mixes heard on Afrika Islam’s NY-based early-80s “Zulu Beat” radio show, whilst the brilliant “Battle Of The Planets” brings back memories of the electro era, with Format taking to the vocoder to issue dance-friendly instructions over rolling drums, melodic synths and space-age sound effects (“The whole galaxy is watching, This is a universal jam….Interplanetary b-boys I know you came to throw down”).

Another stand-out is the humorous “Remember…” which features Sureshot La Rock cleverly paying homage to the various females who’ve been immortalised on wax by the likes of Just-Ice, Stetsasonic and UTFO over dreamy chimes and mellow guitar (“The other day I took a stroll down memory lane, Erick and Parrish were makin’ dollars pimpin’ out Jane, You shoulda seen her kickin’ game, I tried not to stare but, It’s been twenty years with that Anita Baker haircut!”).

With further input from Mr. Lif, Phill Most Chill and The Nostalgia 77 Quintet, “Statement Of Intent” covers a lot of musical ground, from true-school breakbeat-driven anthems (“Live At The Place To Be”) to full-blown jazz (“The Long Goodbye”), but Format consistently hits the target regardless of where his musical inspiration is coming from.

In my opinion, “Statement Of Intent” contains DJ Format’s best work to date, mixing his experimental tendencies and love of Hip-Hop with a new sense of urgency and sonic vitality. As far as statements go, this particular one is hard to refute.

Ryan Proctor

DJ Format ft. Edan – “Spaceship Earth” (Project Blue Book Records / 2012)

 

New Joint – DJ Format / Edan

DJ Format ft. Edan – “Spaceship Earth” (Project Blue Book / 2012)

Taken from the UK producer’s new album “Statement Of Intent” which dropped this week and features appearances from Mr. Lif, Phill Most Chill and Sureshot La Rock.

Statement Of Intent Album Trailer – DJ Format

Trailer for UK producer DJ Format’s forthcoming album “Statement Of Intent” which features appearances from Mr. Lif, Phill Most Chill, Sureshot La Rock and more.