I’ve been struggling to write more than a couple of paragraphs for the past few months. Various reasons, too boring or personal to go into now, but it does mean I have failed to shine a light on some decent projects that have been given life in the interim. I wanted to do a bit of a catch up to make amends for my slack attitude and also to bring some thoroughly good music to your attention.
First up, a crew who are greater than the sum of their already talented parts – Verbal Highz. The Bristol-based rap collective have been active players on the scene for the past few years, both as a crew and as individual artists, with MCs like Chillman getting the attention of Verb T and his label, In The Balance.
The crew as a whole consists of Chillman, Coosie, Entra P and Goose on mic duties, with Sayk representing on the decks for their infamously rowdy live shows. Despite having decimated every stage they have set foot on, as well as collecting a large number of scalps in various group battles, until this year they had only really put out one EP back in 2014. That all changed this year though, when they released their official debut project – Halfway to Nothing.
The album features all the blistering bars and frenetic wordplay that have earned the four MCs their respective reputations, as well as a nice selection of production from the likes of Chillman and Goose, alongside contributions from Sigmund Frued, Hussc, Depf-1 and Joe Publik. There have been a couple of videos lifted from the album, including the Peter Pan anthem, Never Grow Old, which you can watch below. The album is available to download now over on Bandcamp.
Next up we have an EP from an MC who should already have been situated in your “ones to watch” lists for the past couple of years – Press1. It’s been a busy year for the VRBL Records MC. Aside from the EP release, he was also crowned the first ever Don’t Flop On-Beat champion and became a dad for the first time. I mention these last two things, because they were both instrumental in the construction of his Super MC EP. The EP weighs in at six tracks, with production being handled by a good mix of new and more established names. Billy Whizz (3HB) brings a syncopated neck snapper to the table on Epilepsy, while Broadley takes things down a notch tempo-wise, with the very personal track, Kid, where Press expands on the whirlwind of emotions that becoming a father involves. Yanaku and Karnate cover the remaining tracks, with each one proving that Press is more versatile than the average battle rapper. Super MC is out now on VRBL Records.
A more recent release now, as one of the UK’s most gifted lyricists makes a triumphant return to the fore. It’s been five years to the month since Melanin 9 released the critically acclaimed Magna Carta LP, which provided more of an insight into the mind of arguably one of our most important artists. Last month saw the release of Old Pictures and it is not surprising to reveal that the Triple Darkness MC has only gone and raised the bar on his already highly accomplished level of writing. He is one of a handful of skilled MCs from the UK who have caused cats on the other side of the Atlantic to take notice too, proven with a nice collaboration with Mach-Hommy on Btchs Bru. There are also appearances from Bisk and Milano, as well as Karl Sage who leaves his mark on the lead single from the album, Polaroid. It’s definitely Melanin 9 who remains the constant source of appeal though, having created an insightful, intelligent and reflective rap album. Old Pictures is available to buy now via Bandcamp.