Saturday, 2 May 2015

REVIEWS: Damaged Goodz, Nekswan, Tru Factz, Jetsam, Conscious Route and Iron Masons

Nekswan – Waves

Though I’m not unfamiliar with Florist the Beatmaker’s mellow 90s production vibes, I have to say that he’s found the perfect foil here in Glasgow rapper Nekswan. Though his lyrics sometimes lack the refinement that these beats demand (‘Blacc Pearl’ in particular is full of vague references to getting mellow and the like), I still found myself hitting the replay button for several reasons. Nekswan’s boasts a casual confidence that emanates through every facet of his rapping style. He flows well, has a welcome knack for switching up his syllabic patterns, and his use of abstract imagery suggests that certainly knows his terrain. I do think his vocals get too buried in the mix sometimes, but I can’t knock him for attempting a style that very few Scottish emcees actually pull off well. This is possibly the most enjoyable Scottish EP I’ve heard this year.

Best track: Magnolia, Hustle Among the Petals
Listen here

Tru Factz – End of Days

Based on the title, the artwork, the samples, the lyrics, the attitude and his overall image, I’m going to take a stab in the dark and guess that Tru Factz may have been a tad influenced by Vinnie Paz here. Indeed, there are plenty of mentions of a ‘new world order’ and ‘government corruption’ on this record, even if these references are rarely expanded upon or fully explained. But hey, Tru Factz has taken the plunge and fully embraced his inner David Icke, and so it’s probably fair that the listener puts aside personal prejudices and accepts that any explicit allusions to the apocalypse (or lizards) come with the territory. As heavy handed as the concept is though, the Edinburgh emcee has undeniably improved since his last project. It wouldn’t actually be farfetched to suggest that he could pull off a more revealing struggle-based album, something he occasionally nods to (if that’s not too subtle a word).

Best track: I Believe (feat Madhat McGore)
Listen/buy here

Damaged Goodz – Two Thousand and Fifteen Axes Dodged

Damaged Goodz literally started rapping before either myself or the itnernet existed, so it seems only fair that he’s getting the appropriate coverage for this latest EP having recently featured on STV Glasgow and the Daily Record’s music page. Speaking of the old school, the title track kicks things off with a beat that sounds like it’s straight off an old kung fu B-movie (i.e. a classic Wu-Tang beat). Considering the serious and nostalgic topics Goodz raps about, especially regarding his upbringing in Castlemilk, there’s a definite sense of playfulness to this EP that I can assume derives from the fact that he’s still incredibly passionate about what he does. In fact, as he informed SSU on his recent interview, there will be yet another EP (the third this year) coming out in the next few months, suggesting that this new found momentum won’t be slowing down.

Best track: Two Thousand and Fifteen Axes Dodged, Me and My Young Team

Jetsam – Yugen

If you’re not too familiar with Jetsam, that’s because you’ll know him as Konchis most of the time. The Glasgow producer has released a couple of releases under the alias, experimenting with different textures and production styles. His latest album ‘Yugen’ is undoubtedly a mixed bag of ingredients: there’s a heavy bass influence at points (‘Ephemeral’), some more chilled out garage vibes (‘Cathedrals’), and even some trap flavoured drum sounds which, when combined with more ambient synth templates, resemble Araab Muzik or Friendzone (‘Crystal Oblivion’). The combination of these elements ultimately makes for a few disjointed tracks, especially at points where the focal melody seems to just be wandering around for the sake of it. Then again, I don’t doubt that Konchis rightfully sees this as an opportunity to meddle with dissonance and syncopation in a way that he doesn’t usually.

Best track: Crystal Oblivion, Shore

Iron Masons – Lost Scrolls

Iron Masons is an SOS-affiliated project from Blasfima Sinna & Han CMC (who are known as Schizo Creator and Artist Acoustic) released on You Sonix last month, although it’s actually their second venture under these guises. If that all reads as a little convoluted, that’s because it is, especially when you consider that this album is also a conceptual album where they travel through time and educate children with music (or something). If you’re still confused though, there’s even a handy Bandcamp description which features this excerpt: “when the archaeologist downloaded the uplink from the USB stick contained in the casket she had an intense orgasm when she heard the music. When she calmed down she realised the world needs to know about this so it was uploaded it to iTunes for a price of £6.66…”

Once reading that, you can’t not get the humour in what these guys are trying to do. ‘The Lost Scrolls’ features incredibly fun verses from the duo over samples of themes from He-Man, Knight Rider and Ghostbusters to name but a few (“who you gonna call? IRON MASONS”). Fair play guys, fair play.

Best tracks: Thundercats, The A-Team, the whole thing to be honest…

Monosapiens & Conscious Route – Frequency

If you’ve not checked out Conscious Route yet, there’s a couple of videos on this very site that demonstrate his rapping ability. Previous material I’ve heard from him has tended to fit neatly in the domain of early 00’s styled UK hip hop (London specifically), but ‘Frequency’ is a different beast. Though they meddle with a variety of different sounds, be it keyboards, samples or whatever, Monosapiens have a very DIY feel to their work that fits Conscious Route’s style quite well. The best tracks here emerge from the English veteran’s more image-based lyrics interlocking with psychedelic grooves (‘Aerial Perspective’ is a particular highlight).

Best tracks: Aerial Perspective, Meteor Shower
Listen/buy here

Coming up on SSU- Podcast interview with DF Champion Soul
- Review/feature of 'This is Hip Hop' at Velveteen, Edinburgh
- A selection of interviews
- Daily content from Scuba

Note from Jonny

These are reviews of just some of the releases that have been sent in to us over the past couple of months. There may still be a few that get covered from these months very soon. In addition, my work for The National means that some events/albums may get covered in the paper. Along with my fellow columnist, we’ve covered several hip hop related acts/events from Crown Sound, Loki, Hector Bizerk, Soul, Stanley Odd and Young Fathers over the past few weeks. My email/twitter for covering releases is the same as before, albeit I may prioritise certain acts for newspaper coverage and others for blog coverage (and sometimes both). Peace x