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!