With their bigger and better second album, London-based indie/dance band Boxed In have earned their breakout moment
In The Fishtank
He is the man with the skills to pay the bills. He is STEVIE CHICK and here are his hip-hop compilations.
Tags Of The Times 2.0J
Darker, futuristic underground hip-hop from the US to as faraway as Japan and Finland. Royally blunted, blisteringly paranoid raps over cutting-edge electroid deck soundscapes, 'Tags...' is something else.
Necessary or evil? Definitely necessary. For the murky junglisms of Rubberoom; for the Luther Vandross-shredding 'Never Too Much' by J Treds; for the melancholic alienation of Blackmarkit; and, most of all, for the cyber-sweep of Mike Ladd and Company Flow's 'Bladerunners'. A disquieting vision of the future. 9/10
The Beyond Real Experience
Artist-showcase for DJ Spinna's Beyond Real label. Snazzy, scuffed jazz-influenced hip-hop with a reassuringly rough edge is the order of the day.
Necessary or evil? With exclusive new tracks from Basement Khemist and Spinna's own Jigmastas, plus various underground luminaries (IG Off & Hazardous, the ubiquitous Talib Kweli), 'The Beyond Real Experience' bodes well for Spinna's solo album, 'Heavy Beats', later this year. 8/10
Hip Hop- Street Life In Zoo York
(Master Dance Tones)
Hip-hop volume in new 'Street Beat Sound Collective' compilations series. Lack of big name artists made up for by appearances of superstar producers and DJs (Erick Sermon, Beatnuts, the legendary Marley Marl).
Necessary or evil? Kamakazee's 'Snakes' features the delicious Marley Marl touch and is indispensable for that alone. Other tracks are less distinguished, but the likes of IG Off & Hazardous' DJ Spinna-produced 'In The Air' keeps you listening. Proceed with optimistic caution. 7/10
Jump Up Drum'n'Bass - The Funk Hits The Fan
(Master Dance Tones)
Another 'Street Beat Sound Collective' drum'n'bass volume. Slinky, minimally funky breakbeat-fest, in reaction to the encroaching takeover of 'intelligent' drum'n'bass.
Necessary or evil? The tracks are too long, too similar, and not enough happens in them. Little of the cut'n'thrust that made early jungle so dangerous on display here. Enough to send you scurrying back to 4 Hero's '2 Pages' opus. 4/10
Son: Year One
Compilation of raggedy 12"s from UK hip-hop label Son's first year. Further proof that the burgeoning Brit-hop scene extends further than just 'Stutter Rap'.
Necessary or evil? From Stylee Cee's frenetic 'Here Comes Son' onwards, this is a lean, hilarious, commendable document of an oft-overlooked phenomena. The likes of UK Kartel and Lost Island join Roots Manuva as innovators of a uniquely British hip-hop flava. 8/10
Islamic mythology meets the horror of war in this claustrophobic, low-budget spine-tingler
California’s coolest lift their usual murk on a free-spirited, adventurous third album at odds with its ‘mature’ description
The New York new wave reprobates’ debut delivers instant gratification via boisterous choruses and loveable melodies
This Floridian trio’s peculiar take on pop music takes gloomy cues from Depeche Mode and The Smiths