Spectacular Diagnostics: Raw Lessons (Stream)

Following some much deserved hype and anticipation, the new album from Spectacular Diagnostics arrives in all its splendour today. Raw Lessons is another feature heavy affair, with some truly unique pairings, including a track with Immi Larusso and Bruiser Wolf, while elsewhere regular Spec collaborator, Kid Acne, joins forces with Sonnyjim. There are also features from the likes of Fatboi Sharif, Lee Scott, CLBRKS and TheDeadCanRap. The album is available to preview below, then head to Bandcamp to check the full lineup and secure ownership of the vinyl or a download.

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Lord Apex & Drae Da Skimask: The Elevated and Elusive (Stream)

Top tier link up here, as Lord Apex joins forces with the forever on point, Drae Da Skimask, for The Elevated and Elusive. Apparently the tracks were recorded over a span of five years, which Apex says should answer some questions about his whereabouts. You can sample some of the tracks below, with ‘name your price’ downloads available via Bandcamp.

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ILLAMAN x Pitch 92: Sometimes Relax

A very satisfying introduction to the forthcoming album from ILLAMAN and Pitch 92, along with a new video that premiered today via Potent Funk. Heartfelt bars from ILLAMAN, still tinted with the same humour he’s always brought to the booth, and Pitch once again finding the perfect accompaniment with his production, as he makes his debut with the label. Their album of the same name, is due out on 26 March. More news on that soon.

Jman & The Argonautz: Dying Breed

I was very pleased to see the news that Jman had recently joined the High Focus roster. He’s been on my radar for a long time and regular visitors to the blog will know that I’ve been pushing his various musical guises for years, whether it’s his ragga-rap crossover releases with Illinformed, or his work with the likes of DJ Vadim and The Mouse Outfit. Now he’s bringing another dimension to his music, thanks to the formation of The Argonautz.
I don’t have much information on them at the moment, but they appear to be a live band if this first video is anything to go by. Lonely jazz keys allow Jman’s introspective vocals to be the main focus, before the drums drop and the full track comes to life. It ends with a burst of instrumentation from the band. Apparently the group also features Maddy on vocals, who is another superb addition to the lineup (and another artist I’ve been championing for years).
No release date for the album yet, but in the meantime you can make the most of the video for Dying Breed, which was made by Parallel Media.

DJ MK: London Underground Extras

It’s been three years since DJ MK answered a lot of UK hip hop fans’ prayers, by making his legendary London Underground mixtape series available on Bandcamp. First emerging in the early 2000’s, the two tapes became essential additions in music collections up and down the country, thanks to the supreme selection of freestyles and exclusives that they contained. Now, 20 years later, MK has released a run of freestyles from the era that never made the original cut. Featuring unearthed gems from the likes of Jehst, Roots Manuva, Klashnekoff and Supa T, the 34 minute recording is ready to download now, with previews available below.

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Jehst ft. Confucius MC & Eva Lazarus: One Horse Town + LP News

Jehst has released a steady stream of singles since 2019, which gave the appearance of an unrelated collection of loosies. It now turns out that they were all building towards the release of his new album, which arrives six years after Billy Green is Dead. The album, Mork Calling Orson, is due for release in early February, which means there is still time for a couple more singles, including One Horse Town. The Taharka-produced track sees Jehst reuniting with long-term collaborator, Confucius MC, as well as drafting in Eva Lazarus for some soulful assistance. You can check out One Horse Town below, while Mork Calling Orson is available for pre-order now.

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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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Robert ft. Rag ‘N’ Bone Man: Porridge

A new video for one of last year’s best from the UK, as Robert brings his collaboration with Rag ‘N’ Bone Man to life. Porridge is an emotionally charged and honest account of life behind the bars and its aftermath, detailing the effect it has both on the life of the person incarcerated, as well as the lives of those around them. It’s a powerful track, with added soul from both Rags’ vocals and the production, which comes from Sonnyjim and The Purist. It’s lifted from Robert’s debut album, Orange Is The New Black, which is out now.

Onoe Caponoe ft. Jehst: Pinocchio

New takes on old classics are nothing new in rap, however, contemporary rap versions of 19th century Italian stories are pretty niche. But that is Onoe Caponoe all over, so it’s no real surprise that his latest single deals with his own rehash of the tale of Pinocchio, ably assisted by fellow UK favourite, Jehst. The track is accompanied by an animated video, which Onoe also devised, putting him on a creative par with Quelle Chris. Pinocchio is produced by Kehlarj and it’s out now on High Focus.