We invited iNDEX down to the dBS Studio for a chat and a bar or two...this is what happened!
Mnsr Frites has been gathering pace since the late 00's as part of UK Hip Hop's original raggo live band, Granville Sessions. As well as Granville, Frites also makes up one fifth of the infamous cambridge based rap mega group, Moose Funk Squad.
We've been on to Frites and his close click of south-eastern rhymesayers for a minute now and when we heard he was getting ready to drop a solo LP, we had to hear it for ourselves.
'The River Wandle' is a full 16 tracks long and is Mnsr Frites debut solo project. It's rammed full of the incredibly intricate rhyme schemes and supersized words he's become know for, all spread thickly over story-fitting, scene setting beats.
Although its All topped off with heavy feature verses from the likes of Cappo, Jester Jacobs, Benny Diction, Archetype & Luca Brazi, production is a big focal point throughout. Having beatsmiths like Blah Records associated Sam Zircon in the rotation always makes for good listening but when Sam loops up a beat for Frites, it seems to perfectly pair with his style. Take 'I Drink Coffee' for example. This track was the first single to leak from the project way back last year and is a perfect testament to my point. The spine-tingling piano striking through from the hollowish bass set against Frite's slower flow and meaningful lyrical content, manages to produce something you can't help but take notice of.
As well as Zircon, there is a Smörgåsbord of impressive button bashers, loop lifters and sample sifters handling the beats throughout. A few you will have heard of and a few you might not have come across yet. We flicker through quite a variation of production styles as we maneuver through the disc and switching up the producer on each track can often make the final product feel like its missing some of the attention that it may have had with the traditional ‘1 Rapper + 1 Producer’ formula. The opposite seems to be the case with ‘The River Wandle’ as Frite’s somber and often playful flow keeps a running theme of thoughtful beauty out of chaos across each track, regardless of the producer.
A stand out track for me was number 4 in the rotation titled ‘Copperfield’. Production handled by midlands based Joe Corfield, it features an infectious downtempo jazz centric instrumental with a subtle key loop that rolls over and over underneath Frite’s self confessing bars as he expands on his personal pro’s and cons.
Number 7 on the track list is ‘No Concept’ and see’s frites smack it up with that double time heat over a jazzy sax loop & subtle, bassy drums arranged by Krang. This is a true testament to Frites’ versatility and boasts a slower hook that drags you back in after each verse. I listen to a lot of rap music and i’m normally pretty good at keeping up with the subject matter of a song even if it’s double time. However, I had to pull this one up a few times to get a grip of what was going on and I enjoyed it more and more each time.
Another stand out for me would have to be ‘Floor Beef’. Again produced by Krang, who I hadn't come across before this project but will be checking for in the future, the beat consists of some solid bass smothered in 8bit goodness that has no trouble maintaining that head-nod-ability we all need. It features guest vocals from Granville/Moose Funk collaborator Luca Brazi and see’s the two long standing bar partners going back to back right the way through as they chat about whacker rappers. The pair get across an element of comedy here without dropping their integrity lyrically.
In conclusion, this project is a feast. Frites has more than proven that he can tear it down solo and I know you're not going to disagree. Sit down and eat!
Summers Sons are a relatively unknown duo made up of brothers Turt and Instrumentalist. These guys have been putting in a huge amount of work lately and recently released (free download below) their self titled long player.
Beat duties, as you may have guessed, reside with Instrumentalist and he seems to make light work of infectious piano loops and silky samples whilst his brother Turt lets off sharp, contemplative lyrics in perfect response to the arrangement of the instrumental.
This gem was mixed down and mastered by the mighty Chemo and the depth of sound generated by the buttery beats in contrast with the sharp lyrical delivery displayed by Turt throughout isn’t something you come across everyday and very rarely for free.
Hailing from the south east of England, subject matter drifts through common and not so common topics from life experience to enjoying yourself and there is a distant but but ever present theme of the sun that adds another level of continuity to the project.
A real stand out for me would be number 4 in the rotation ‘Giving It Back’ in which Turt does an excellent job of showing appreciation for the artform and exploring the culture of hip hop over an infectious piano loop and 1930’s style bass.
Another ear grabber from the selection would have to be ‘Plenty Of Nothing’ which combines sinatra samples, buttery string loops in stark contrast to the rasp, honest bars Turt applies as he takes you through some of his past and touches on his present view of the world.
This isnt a release that most would listen to to get lively of a weekend, this is a piece of music to be respected in a different way. For me, this is personal music and everything about it makes it that way. From the samples to the lyrical content and back to the beats again, this is one to sit back with and get in to.
Back in 2013, Granville Sessions released their long awaited LP Forward and served perfectly to further strengthen their standing as one of the UK’s finest hip hop acts. It was nominated for Wordplay Magazine's ‘Album Of The Year’ and, as you will probably know, you’ve got to produce something pretty fucking outstanding to be in the final run down for this now prestigious award.
Granville are a live band hip hop fusion that blend together dub and hip hop in a way that has to be seen, or at the very least heard, to be believed. Consisting of 3 Mc’s and live band noises but still proving that sampling is far from dead, this is a group that are not afraid to bare all on a track and the bars that come from Luca Brazi, Mnsr Frites & Archetype are unparalleled in their honesty.
We had the their 'Forward’ album on repeat here at HQ and copped our copy from the mighty Suspect Packages the day it dropped so we know more than a thing or two about this release and we are, without doubt, among the many heads that hold it in the highest regard.
This being the case, we were pretty excited (and a touch worried) when a remix album was announced. This rejig is remarkably free to download and features retouches from Uk Hip Hop royalty such as Chemo, Steady Rock & Pete Cannon as well as heads closer to the Granville family like Cambridge’s own P739 and even particularly button savvy Granville member, Luca Brazi.
A lot, and I mean A LOT, of remix albums can leave us underwhelmed and sometimes a little disappointed as artists can often lose sight of why the original was so great in the first place. This often detracts from the impact of the original and leaves us asking ‘Why?’.
I’m very happy to say that this is not the case here and, as you will hear for yourself, every producer comes correct as they get a chance to do their thing with the intricate acapellas from the original.
A real stand out on this would have to be the mash up of ‘Green’ in which legendary ska punk producer Peter Miles pairs up with the sessions to cut in the distinctive chorus from The Skints ‘Rise Up’ in place of the original hook and the instrumental swapped out for something even more rubadub.
Another one that caught our attention was the Steady Rock reshuffle of ‘Ill Architecture’. Steady has a liad an interesting 8 bit lullaby in the background that does a shockingly good job of accentuating the rock solid lyricism displayed by the three MC’s.
The original ‘Forward, is one of those projects that deserves much more than a few listens and provides vibes for most situations and the remixes go even further with each track being completely different from the last whilst maintaining the deep, observational and often funny lyrics from the MC’s in question. The remixes will provide even more vibes for even more situations.
We were excited to hear it but undeniably apprehensive because of the way we felt about the first go. This apprehension made it even sweeter when we realised that Granville Sessions and the various producers involved have managed to create something entirely different without losing why we loved it in the first place.
COP THE WHOLE PROJECT FOR FREE BELOW
So we heard something a fair old while back that, for minute, felt like some kind of fabled mirage that would never appear in reality. These rumours continued to circulate and hype began to build until one day recently, it arrived.
The new, feature length High Focus backed North South mash-up that is 'Butter Fly'. An LP produced entirely by none other than SMB originator and all round badman Dirty Dike with the the vocals dealt with by Blah Records co-founder and purveyor of that fine gutter funk, Lee Scott.
Thats right, they gone and did it, and believe us when we say this ones the start of something brilliant to come and hopefully a lot more collaboration between 2 of the most innovative record labels ever to grace the British hip hop circuit.
Firstly, you know the names and probably know them very well. Lee & Dike have huge followings in their own right as well as through their iconic rap supergroup beginnings.
Dirty Dike has been putting in work for some time time now after exploding on to the scene with the now infamous Contact Play crew as well as his debut solo LP, 'Bogies & Alcohol. Dike has branched out from being an MC to the world of production and has taken to it like a quackpig to water. You know he's got the heat, we know he's got the heat, we don't need to say anymore.
Lee Scott rose to underground acclaim back in the mid 00's with the launch of Runcorn-based sinister boom bap sounding label, Blah Records and the release of the debut offering from Children Of The Damned, 'Tourettes Camp'. Lee has been snowballing down the hill of rap ever since and has picked up quite a bit of pace (not to mention a cult following) as he's been banging out twisted, introspective modern day classics albums like 'Tin Foil Fronts' and 'Cactus Owl Moon Goat'.
We got a taste of how this arrangement would work on a single or two and this Long Player addition allows the pair to delve more deeply into their respective craft and the interestingly contrasting yet undoubtedly cohesive styles accentuate each others abilities to no end.
It was difficult to pick stand outs here. The whole project flows seamlessly and you really do get an appreciation for it in its entirety. In a lot of ways it serves as a bit of an example as to how the formula of a rapper and a producer can still work incredibly well and, if you have that certain something, you don't need to worry about pushing the boundaries in any kind of effort to ‘mastermind’ a new concept to get your album talked about.
Filled with gnarly television skits, alien concepts & jazz infused head nodding production, this is everything we’d hoped from Dike & Lee. Their partnership works as well as many people have been optimistically predicting and ‘Butter Fly’ strikes an impeccable balance between High Focus & Blah that makes us hopeful that we’ll be seeing more of this in the future.
OUT NOW ON HIGH FOCUS RECORDS
ORDER 'BUTTER FLY' ON CD HERE
ORDER 'BUTTER FLY' ON LIMITED EDITION VINYL HERE
ORDER 'BUTTER FLY' DIGITAL HERE