Tag Archives: The Four Owls

New Joint – Pitch 92 / The Four Owls / Jazz T

Pitch 92 ft. The Four Owls & Jazz T – “Swoop” (@HighFocusUK / 2019)

Taken from the talented UK producer’s new album “3rd Culture” which dropped today with features from Coops, Foreign Beggars, Micall Parknsun and more.

Album Review – Fliptrix

inexhale cover

Fliptrix

“INEXHALE”

(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.

Ryan Proctor

“INEXHALE” is available here.

 

 

New Joint – Leaf Dog / BVA / Kool Keith

Leaf Dog ft. BVA & Kool Keith – “The Reminder” (@HighFocusUK / 2017)

Four Owls representative  Leaf Dog is joined by fellow crew member BVA and the Ultramagnetic emcee himself Kool Keith for this cut from his recently-released album “Dyslexic Disciple”.

New Joint – Fliptrix / The Four Owls

Fliptrix ft. The Four Owls – “That’s You” (@HighFocusUK / 2017)

More animated dopeness from the UK emcee’s Illinformed-produced album “Patterns Of Escapism”.

New Joint – Ocean Wisdom / The Four Owls

Ocean Wisdom ft. The Four Owls – “Real Smooth” (@Ocean_Wisdom / 2016)

Dirty Dike-produced dopeness from the UK emcee’s recent album “Chaos 93”.

 

100 Best Albums & EPs Of 2015 (Part One) – Triple Darkness / Sadat X / J-Live etc.

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It’s hard to believe, but even with the amount of quality releases that dropped throughout 2015, there are still people claiming that there isn’t any worthwhile or memorable Hip-Hop being made today.

I’ve always found that way of thinking frustrating, as there has never been a time when there wasn’t good music to be found, but in recent years that argument has become increasingly redundant due to the ever-growing number of talented emcees, deejays and producers out there who’re consistently delivering the goods.

Of course, in today’s digital age, there will always be a huge amount of sub-par material being regularly pumped out via popular platforms such as BandCamp and YouTube, and the mainstream, for the most part, continues to promote the same shallow, one-dimensional rap that it always has done.

But that being said, if you genuinely feel there isn’t anything out there for you as a fan of Hip-Hop, the problem isn’t necessarily with the music, the issue is with those same fans not listening and looking hard enough when it comes to new material.

As I always say when I put these year-end pieces together, the albums and EPs included here aren’t the only releases that were worthy of attention, but this list does reflect what stayed in heavy rotation for me personally.

So, in no particular order, here are the artists and projects that made my speakers thump throughout 2015…

Triple Darkness – “Darker Than Black” (KingUnderground / Suspect Packages) – Cementing their reputation as one of the most talented crews in Hip-Hop, this album from London’s Triple Darkness was a brilliantly-crafted hardcore masterpiece. With group members such as Melanin 9, Cyrus Malachi and Ray Vendetta spitting sharp lyrical darts over gloriously uncompromising production from the likes of Ringz Ov Saturn and 7th Dan, “Darker Than Black” was a shining example of intelligent, underground Hip-Hop at its very best.

triple darkness cover

Lord Hakim – “Born With A Determined Idea” (LordHakim.BandCamp.Com) – Following in the footsteps of Rakim, Lakim Shabazz and Brand Nubian, Columbus, Ohio wordsmith Lord Hakim proudly repped for the Five Percent Nation throughout this self-produced album, dropping science on the everyday struggle with both passion and insight. Peace to the Gods!

lord hakim cover

The Cornel West Theory – “Coming From The Bottom” (TheCornelWestTheory.BandCamp.Com) – Hailing from Washington DC, The Cornel West Theory delivered an instense, no-holds-barred listening experience with this lengthy album. Showcasing the group’s thoughts on politics, race and Hip-Hop in 2015 America, “Coming From The Bottom” channeled the spirit of late-80s Public Enemy and BDP, whilst clearly standing strong as a product of the present day.

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Big Toast – “The Wedding Fund LP” (Revorg Records) – So you’ve proposed to your significant other, your pockets are flat not fat, and now you have a wedding to plan for. What do you do?  In the case of UK emcee Big Toast, you hit the studio and release a dope album to raise cash for your big event. Combining the London lyricist’s blunt, working-class worldview and dry humour with quality production from Sam Zircon, Strange Neighbour and Ill Move Sporadic, “The Wedding Fund LP” was guaranteed to hit the spot both in sickness and in health.

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Sadat X – “Never Left” (Loyalty Digital Corp) – The Brand Nubian member proved yet again why he’s considered one of the game’s most timeless artists on his eighth full-length solo project. Steeped in NY pride and featuring appearances from Cormega, Craig G and Black Sheep’s Dres, “Never Left” found the Wild Cowboy drawing on both industry and personal experiences to craft an album that resonated with traditional Rotten Apple flavour.

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Paul Nice & Phill Most Chill – “The Fabreeze Brothers” (AE Productions) – If you came-up listening to Hip-Hop in the 80s, still insist on matching your sneakers with your outfit, and regularly use slang like ‘fresh’ and ‘fly’, then this collabo album from NY’s Paul Nice and Illadelphia’s Phill Most Chill was made with you in mind. Capturing the excitement and purity of old-school Hip-Hop with an infectious passion, the pair succeeded in their mission to pay tribute to the foundations of the culture whilst still bringing something unique to the table. Warning – this album should only be listened to whilst standing in a b-boy stance.

fabreeze brothers

Oliver Sudden – “Phenomenaler Steaz” (BoomBapPro.Com) – Straight outta Croydon, South London (aka The Cronx), the talented Sudden utilised his understated, deadpan delivery to great effect on this aptly-titled project, spitting true-school sentiments over top-drawer production from the likes of Giallo Point, Sam Zircon and Downstroke.

oliver sudden

Flip – “Reflections” (Ill Adrenaline Records) – With a sound rooted in golden-era boom-bap and mixed with soulful sensibilities, veteran Austrian producer Flip called on heavyweight emcees such as DITC’s AG, Detroit’s Phat Kat and Wu-Tang affiliate Killah Priest to bless his well-crafted soundscapes on this cohesive package of underground flavour.

flip reflections

The Four Owls – “Natural Order” (High Focus Records) – Showing off their impressive lyrical wingspans once again, Verb T, Fliptrix, Leaf Dog and BVA collectively swooped down on the UK Hip-Hop scene for a second time with their sophomore crew album, gaining production support from none other than Gang Starr legend DJ Premier and reducing the so-called competition to mere bird seed in the process.

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Large Professor – “Re:Living” (Fat Beats) – Whilst the term ‘legend’ perhaps gets thrown around a little too easily nowadays, self-proclaimed live-guy-with-glasses Extra P is an individual truly deserving of the title. Having had an impact on 90s Hip-Hop that is still being felt today, the Queens, NY resident came correct in 2015, proving ain’t a damn thing changed but the year. With an approach to his craft that remains untainted and uninfluenced by rap’s mainstream circus, Large Pro’s “Re:Living” showcased the sound of an artist who really keeps it real…to himself.

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Supastition – “Gold Standard” (Reform School Music) – One of the most consistent emcees of the new millennium, the career of North Carolina-raised lyricist Supastition has undoubtedly contained its fair share of ups-and-downs. Yet throughout, Supa has maintained his honesty and integrity, making music that resonates with fans who are looking for Hip-Hop they can relate to. “Gold Standard” most definitely continued that tradition. Featuring beats from Praise, MoSS and Jonny Cuba, this album found the newest Soundsci member once again dealing with everyday issues, whilst also taking the opportunity to indulge in some good ol’-fashioned braggin’ and boastin’.

supastition cover

DJ Soko – “Domino Effect” (Left Of Center) – Pulling together an impressive array of talent which included Guilty Simpson, Apollo Brown and Rasheed Chappell, Michigan native Soko’s debut project was a robust, speaker-rattling collection of thunderground excellence which avoided the hit-and-miss pitfalls of similar compilation-style releases.

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Definite Mass – “Soul Caliber” (Manifest Recordings) – Living up to its title both musically and lyrically, this gem of an album found West Coast wordsmith Definite Mass delivering personal and sincere verses over melodic boom-bap beats, with the likes of Blu and Supreme Cerebral passing by to offer microphone assistance.

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Kaimbr – “Bronze Horse” (Kaimbr.BandCamp.Com) – Maryland resident Kaimbr paid homage to Staten Island’s mighty Wu-Tang on this brilliantly-executed concept album, with the Low Budget crew member transforming into his alter-ego Wu Kaim to practice his well-honed microphone martial arts over dusty, Shaolin soul samples.

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White Mic – “Do It How You Wanna Do It” (Solidarity Records) – A distinctly personal collection of beats and rhymes, Bored Stiff member White Mic’s “Do It…” found the Cali-based emcee celebrating Hip-Hop’s potential to inspire and motivate, pouring his own life experiences into his music with memorable and emotionally-charged results.

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AKD & Deepstar – “Universal Language” (Monad Records) – Seeking to demonstrate the power Hip-Hop has to speak to people from all walks of life, UK emcee Arise King David and Australian producer Deepstar called on the likes of Rapsody, DJ Rob Swift and Phoenix Da Icefire to help make their point, resulting in an overall uplifting listening experience grounded in golden-era sonic values.

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J-Live – “His Own Self” (Mortier Music) – Since his mid-90s debut as part of the NY indie scene, the now Atlanta-based J-Live has consistently released intelligent, creative Hip-Hop, with the veteran wordsmith never afraid to show both artistic and personal growth in his music. “His Own Self”, the first of Live’s two full-length 2015 releases, continued to follow that pattern. Entirely self-produced and with no guest appearances, this album found the talented artist covering a variety of topics, ranging from personal finances (“Old S**t”) and teenage memories (“Red & The Kid”) to America’s racial climate (“I Am A Man”).

j-live cover

DJ Wally Pish Posh & T.R.A.C. – “Operation: Revibe” (DJWallyPishPosh.BandCamp.Com) – With a grand plan to “set Hip-Hop back on its path to greatness”, NY duo Pish Posh and T.R.A.C. definitely went some way to achieving their goal with this pure, organic demonstration of the pair’s shared love and appreciation of Hip-Hop culture. Determined to provide listeners with a healthy musical alternative to the shallow waters of the mainstream, this producer / emcee combo definitely brought the best out of each other throughout this release.

operation revibe

Blak Twang & Blackmale Beats – “The Pantheon EP” – Embracing his elder statesman status within the UK Hip-Hop scene, homegrown legend Tony Rotten teamed-up with London production outfit Blackmale Beats for this stirring six-track release. Whether dealing with social issues (“Elevation”),  recounting personal dramas (“Highs & Lows”) or reliving Hip-Hop memories (“Classiq Moments”), Twang’s authoritative verses were given even greater impact thanks to Blackmale’s ability to match the lyrical content on offer here with just the right musical tone and mood. Rottonous, indeed.

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80’s Babies – “Searching For Happy” (DeeJackson80sBabies.BandCamp.Com) – Detroit-raised producer Tall Black Guy joined forces with Chicago emcee Dee Jackson to deliver music for your mind, body and soul throughout “Searching For Happy”, an album that found the duo respectfully drawing on the passion and creative integrity of golden-era Hip-Hop, whilst proudly carving out their own unique sonic niche in today’s rap game.

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Part Two coming soon.

New Joint – The Four Owls

The Four Owls – “Think Twice – Leaf Dog Remix” (@TheFourOwls / 2015)

Originally produced by DJ Premier, Owls member Leaf Dog give this track from the UK crew’s “Natural Order” an impressive reworking.