Jonny: I guess we're kicking off this month's tracks with something a bit different: an acoustic track with hip-hop inspired delivery and then a full blown rap verse. You can't knock the sentiment of the track - singing to your daughter after several years in prison is bound to stir up a few emotions - but it probably would have worked better as a piece entirely sung or entirely rapped. Instead, the rapping part is slightly jarring and doesn't really fit.
Still, this feels more like a cathartic exercise and so it would be unseemly to scrutinise him too much. The lyrics might not be poetic but they're tender and authentic, which is nice.
Jonny: I've not heard Chad in a wee while so it's good to have him back. I like the mellotron sample (at least I think it's a mellotron - I'm rusty) but I think that, combined with the drum sounds, Chad himself sounds a little overpowered. Maybe it's the progression of the melody and chords but the choice of subject matter feels a little misplaced. I could imagine a more aggressive, hardcore delivery on something like this.
With that said, I see where he's going with it. The track has a progressive narrative that's split up and marked off by the sample itself, a technique used by everyone from Immortal Technique to Aesop Rock. Chad spits well, too, but I think his more meditative delivery would have been better suited to less vivid production.
Scuba: Chad is a respected MC in the scene for a few reasons: he has a notably original voice and style that will drag you in. I personally love this style of laid back beat being backed by aggression. This track was screaming out for a lot more power, something i know Chad is capable of.
I've also got to add, I follow Chad The Lad on Snapchat (Chadest) and he always keeps you up to date with his beats.
Jonny: I've been revisiting a bit of soul lately (check out Donny Hathaway when you get the chance) so the intro immediately got me in the mood for some old school vibes. But the track takes a very different turn when the vocals come in. It all seems a little obnoxious... but I like it. I'm not sure why but I love the way the emcees contrast with the fragmented horns and vocal samples - the vibe's sick.
I'd be curious to know whether Ill Dando made the beat but his rhymes are great too, full of energy. I can't contribute much on Pawel, who I assume is rapping in Polish (?), but his flow works well. The track ends abruptly - it probably could have done with another verse or hook somewhere. This is a quality wee track, regardless.
Scuba: Ill Dando is one of my favourite rappers in Edinburgh at the moment. He favours the same styles of production that I would if I was a rapper: beats dotted with nice jazz style cuts and stabs.
Dando has that gruffness of voice and consistent flow, and nice clean writing.
I can't say much about Pawel except that he kept on beat and his delivery was dope. All round niceness to be honest. I do have to agree with Jonny on the abrupt ending; I wanted a wee bit more, lads.
Jonny: The structure of this track is a little odd: her vocals are double tracked pretty much all the way through and the beat doesn't really dip that whole time. In other words, it doesn't really feel like Becca Starr feat Nity Gritz; it feels like Nity Gritz feat Becca Starr but her vocals just happen to go on for half the song.
That aside, the track has a rich, atmospheric beat, Nity is on form and Becca has a fabulous voice. I just find the overall construction a little poor.
Scuba: Becca and Nity make a great pairing when it comes to these kind of tracks. Nity is always able to match the atmosphere that Becca sets off nicely. I do have to agree with Jonny's comment as it does sound like a Nity track featuring Becca. But the track is well put together by Becca nonetheless. I love the atmospheric beat.
Jonny: I've already featured this track over on CommonSpace but I'll give a few more in depth thoughts. I think Taj is very underrated as a rapper, as opposed to just a beatboxer, and his new album definitely shows he's got a lot to say in terms of content. He's very much at his best when he's talking about topics that are personal to him (the plight of the Punjab etc.), but I think Rebel Song does work as a more broad 'I'm pissed off' kind of track. I do think he goes into better detail on a few other tracks on the new album (which will be reviewed very, very soon).
Scuba: When Taj is annoyed he comes out with his best work. He's not as well known for his rapping or even singing abilities but is a proficient dabbler. It just shows how important the experience of working with loads of rappers over the years actually is.
Jonny: First thing's first, 'waste' not 'waist'. Soundcloud demos get away with it but spelling will be important when releasing something professionally. I've seen Grant (now named Unorthodox), one of Volition's recent talents, freestyle and perform live - he's definitely got talent. His raps are of a good standard here, too, but the other elements here need worked on. There's too much going on production-wise: the piano sounds tacky, the drums stutter and the combination of bass wobble and sweary ad libs doesn't work as a hook.
Unorthodox needs to take a, well, more orthodox approach and go back to basics by spitting over some uncomplicated boom bap or something.
Scuba: Wow, the production needs a lot of work. Sometimes I feel less is more when it comes to beats for new MC's to jump on, but I can also understand that they want to stand out. I find that Piano hard to enjoy if I'm honest.
Overall, I find the track difficult to listen to. With that said, Unorthodox will be one to watch as he seems to have an idea of what he's dong rap-wise at an early stage. My advice would be to try and find some local producers as well as making beats himself.
Jonny: I'm not familiar with this particular Dead Players track - shameful as I'm a big fan of both Jam Baxter and Dabbla. Konchis always comes with such a unique angle, though, that I could have picked out this as a remix anyway. His beats are always creative and have multiple ideas running through. He doesn't do too much but there's always enough to vibe off. I've massive respect for his craft.
Scuba: If you've heard the original production you'll notice the mega difference in Konchis' version. I definitely had to go back and hear out for it. They're very different interpretations. Konchis is always heavy with production, though. I went with this particular track as it added a bit of variety.
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