SKECH185 & Jeff Markey: Western Automatic Music Part 1 + LP Stream

As promised a couple of weeks ago, the brand new album from SKECH185 and Jeff Markey was given life this week. It stands as SKECH’s official debut on Backwoodz Studioz, a label he has orbited for a while, which is why the album feels like such a natural fit. As does his pairing with Markey, who has managed to concoct the ideal arrangement of beats for his collaborator’s unparalleled vocals. Much like his label-mates, billy woods and ELUCID, SKECH’s flow commands your attention and will have you replaying tracks to make sure that the strength of what you thought you heard, was not your ears deceiving you; he really is that good at this. As if the original pairing wasn’t enough, there are also features from the likes of PremRock, woods, Samurai Banana, Lt Headtrip and Lamon Manuel. To celebrate the album’s release, Backwoodz unveiled a new video for the track, Western Automatic Music Part 1, which you can watch above. You can also explore the rest of He Left Nothing for the Swim Back below, then check out Bandcamp for downloads and limited vinyl orders.

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SKECH185 & Jeff Markey: He Left Nothing For The Swim Back

A huge track here, as one of the most arresting voices in rap delivers the title single from his upcoming album. SKECH185 is making his full-length Backwoodz Studioz debut, with an album alongside Jeff Markey. The duo have been friends and affiliates of the label for a while, but now they’re both taking centre stage for the first Backwoodz release of the year. He Left Nothing For The Swim Back is SKECH at his most engrossing, with Markey’s production merging perfectly, resulting in one of the strongest starts to an album I’ve heard in a while. The video was made by Dunce Videos and the album is due for release on 3 February.

ShrapKnel ft. billy woods: Mescalito Remix (prod. by DJ Haram)

How do you improve on greatness? Well if this latest release from ShrapKnel is anything to go by, then the answer is to get DJ Haram involved. The 700 Bliss producer and Backwoodz affiliate brought new vitality to PremRock and Curly Castro’s Mescalito track, which also includes a feature from billy woods. Now the remix has been given the ideal accompaniment, thanks to some visuals from Modungoa Sebokholi AKA Mo Sebo. You can hear both the remix of Mescalito and the original on Metal Lung, which is out now on Backwoodz Studioz.

Slim’s Pickings 2022 Pt. 2

Following on from last week’s continued roundup of some of my favourite releases from 2022, I’m back with what I thought was going to be my final selection. The original plan was to cover 30 EPs and albums, but as time has gone on my mind has decided to trigger more musical memories from the year. Add to that the fact that the last breaths of 2022 brought us a few more releases and I realise now that I could easily do a top 40 (shout out to 80’s Sunday evenings on Radio One). So without further ado, here are my next ten choices, and as usual they arrive in no particular order beyond the sequence my memory brought them to the surface. The third and final instalment will follow shortly.

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Slim’s Pickings 2022 Pt. 1

For those of you unaware, I recently published a list of my top 10 favourite hip hop and RnB albums in The Wire Magazine, as part of their end of year review issue. It was a tough list to compile because 2022 contained a multitude of stellar releases, many of which deserved further praise.
Guilt quickly set in after I’d submitted the list to my editor, not because I felt like I’d made a mistake with any of my choices, but because I wish I had been given the time and space to write about the bevy of other favourites that had been in rotation over the last 12 months. So now I’m going to attempt to summarise those remaining projects and give them the shine they deserve. But first my original list and the accompanying blurb, for those of you who missed it the first time round. I should also mention that I fucked up with the Little Simz pick. I had it in my head that SIMBI came out in early 2022, but in fact it was late 2021. I blame my own sketchy-at-best memory and the fact that her MOBO win came so late in the year. Anyway…

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Jeff Markey: Sports & Leisure (Stream)

If you thought Backwoodz Studioz was finished for the year, then you were mistaken, as this week heralded the arrival of yet another release from the New York label. Sports & Leisure is the latest project from Jeff Markey, the Brooklyn-based producer and notable Backwoodz collaborator, who rounds off the year with a release that is part beat tape and part rap album. Featuring some of Markey’s instrumental ventures, as well as collaborations with the likes of PremRock, Fatboi Sharif, Defcee, billy woods and SKECH185, Sports & Leisure is both a fitting addition to Backwoodz’s already acclaimed year of releases and a fine introduction to those listeners who might not be familiar with the producer’s work. The album is available to explore below, with more download and streaming options at the usual spots.

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AKAI SOLO: Demonslayer + LP Stream

Backwoodz Studioz promised us a bountiful year at the start of 2022 and that’s exactly what they have delivered, culminating (possibly?) with the release of AKAI SOLO’s debut album on the label. SOLO has been steadily building a reputation as one of the foremost artists of the era, thanks to a string of solo records and collaborations that have emerged over the last few years.
His latest, Spirit Roaming, is the direct evolution of that ascent as he officially joins the ranks of a label that perfectly matches his own trajectory. There are many familiar names among the production credits, with August Fanon, Roper Williams, Theravada and Messiah Musik among the sonic craftsmen who have all lent their skills to the record, helping to create what is arguably the Brooklyn MC’s strongest work to date.
The first video from the album was released in conjunction with the main drop and features production from regular collaborator, iblss, who has been behind a few of my favourite beats over the span of SOLO’s career. You can check the video out above, with a preview of the full album available below. Check out Bandcamp to fulfil your digital and physical wish list.

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billy woods x Messiah Musik: Pollo Rico + Church (Stream)

This week we were treated to billy woods’ second full-length project of the year, with the surprise release of Church. The album continues to pave the way for a stunning year for Backwoodz Studioz, which has included acclaimed bodies of work from both woods (Aethiopes) and ELUCID (I Told Bessie).
Church sees woods reuniting with Messiah Musik, who is at the helm for the album’s entirety, once again proving himself one of the most consistently intriguing producers of the era. Pollo Rico is the lead single from the album, and it arrives with a brand new video from frequent collaborator, Joseph Mault. You can watch the video above and then check the link below to explore the further wonders of Church. Downloads are available via Bandcamp.

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ShrapKnel: Lazy Dog

A brand new video from the equally new ShrapKnel album, as Curly Castro and PremRock reconvene in their faultless combination to deliver another essential set of raps. Lazy Dog features production from Steel Tipped Dove, while the video was made by Owen Taylor and Mike Petrow. The album, Metal Lung, is out now on Backwoodz Studioz.

AKAI SOLO: Body Feeling (Stream)

As we wait patiently for the arrival of the new album from AKAI SOLO, the Brooklyn MC has blessed us with this vitalising amuse bouche in the interim. Body Feeling emerged last week and offers up six tracks from one of my favourite voices currently circulating on the NY rap scene and beyond. The EP features production from some familiar names, including Child Actor, Nicholas Craven and Preservation. You can peruse the project for yourself below, then hit up Bandcamp for downloads and full credits. The full album is due for release on Backwoodz Studioz later this year.

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