Delusionists – Dastardly Schemes (Lost Letters Pt.1)

Posted in Delusionists, UK HIP HOP with tags , , , on October 11, 2011 by figmentuk

Dastardly Schemes, produced by Apatight (Professor Green, Jehst, Micall Parknsun) is the first in a series of free singles to be released by Delusionists over the coming weeks. This series of tracks, called The Lost Letters, were recorded for various projects – some pre-date Prolusion Plus, some were created more recently – but all of them got “lost” somewhere along the line. They say none of these tracks will be appearing on the next album, but “we like them too much for them to stay lost forever, so we want to share them with you.”
So, grab yourself a free download of Dastardly Schemes now and they’ll have another new track for you very, very soon. When I know, you’ll know…

Skrabl – Board of The Game

Posted in UK HIP HOP with tags , , on October 10, 2011 by figmentuk

Breaking the long silence from myself over the last few months is an EP from Essex based bar slinger ‘Skrabl Stanzas.’

‘Board of The Game’ is a 9 track (8 excluding 1 interlude) EP which serves to introduce you to Mr. Stanzas via intricate wordplay, closely woven bars and tightly flowing syllables. The hope is to put him on your radar and the EP pretty much covers all the bases, even the obligatory weed track…no that’s actually the name of the track, so there’s a decent level of humour on hand to diffuse any notion of delusions of grandeur that can be found with new artists.

Production is handled by ‘Grow Beats’ with the exception of ‘Grand Slam Slang’ (which was provided by myself) and all tracks fit together nicely, I’m a big one for textural cohesion so it’s good to see no sore thumbs in sight. ‘Copper Pipes’ is probably a favourite with it’s looping piano riff and basic drum hits leaving Skrab to drop “Sockin’ you at bollock height when I’ve got the mic. For you it’s downhill like toboggan rides.//” 

I’d be very interested to see how Skrabl follows Board of The Game and think he’s definitely one to watch on the scene, if anything I’m just proud of another artist from Essex making moves.

You can get the EP for free HERE 

And by all means add Skrabl as a friend on Facebook HERE

Growbeats can also be added HERE

Also FYI – I should be getting back on posting more regularly now, despite promising to do so for a while. Promise this time. Honest

Verb T – Self Less EP

Posted in UK HIP HOP with tags , , , , , on June 20, 2011 by figmentuk

I was made aware of this today by the man himself and man, am I glad? (Yes, I am – that was rhetorical)

I’m a big fan of Verb-T, thought he smashed it on Jon Phonics’ Half Past Calm 2 and it’s more of the same here. The Self Less EP is a gem, beats and bars are heavy in equal measures and it features other superb examples of UK talent such as Fliptrix, Jam Baxter and Kashmere (who also feature on Half Past Calm 2) as well as Leaf Dog who has just dropped his first LP ‘From A Scarecrow’s Perspective’ on Suspect Packages. It also features Verb-T so be sure to check that out too HERE.

Verb handily breaks down each track himself on his Bandcamp, conveniently saving me the trouble! Check it out…

“It’s here! the follow up to ‘Self Ish’ it’s bigger, it’s better, and I hope you all enjoy it. Many of these tracks were recorded in one 4 hour session as was the case with Self Ish, however I felt this time I needed to go back and add more and fine tune what I had.

The first track ‘Luke Warm Buzz’ is kinda me poking fun at myself for average sales, average to no media buzz etc. but none of that matters, I’m still the best. fact.

‘I’m Good’ and ‘Self Less’ show the more positive and hopeful side of my character, it could be said I got a bit preachy on these, you don’t have to agree with me though just enjoy my fantastic silky smooth vocal stylings and the ‘smooth as baby lotion’ production.

‘Day at the Beach’ was leaked recently, and apparently it’s an instant classic, not my words, the words of youtube account holders, and they would know! this track features Fliptrix (high focus head honcho, killer emcee, general badman) and the lyrical genius that is Jam Baxter

‘Return of the Ill Hand’ is a bit special to me, it’s me teaming up with my old mate Kashmere, who absolutely rips this track by the way. The title is a reference to our LowLife records double EP ‘Back hand slap talk / Technical Illness’ and features us talking from the point of view of germs and viruses over an ILL break, so there.

‘Mental Paralysis’ errrrrrr, yeah, I was tapped into another world when creating this beat and rhyme, it is what it is, I feel like someone else made it.

‘Peak Dreams’ is kinda like my Ode to Cypress Hill in a way, I didn’t do that consciously but listening back to it thats the vibe I get, I think fitting then that the track features the supreme talent Leaf Dog (who recently released one of the best albums in a very long time on high focus) as he kinda brings a similar vibe and energy to this track as a B real or Sic Jacken type emcee, which is good, very good.

’2moro’ features my RAP TEAM associates Joker Starr and Truth, if you watch don’t flop battle league you will recognise both of these guys from there. Both very clever and original writers with unique flow and delivery, 2 artists I would urge you to seek out further if you haven’t already.

‘Self Out’ does exactly what it says on the tin. Ronseal.

so there you have it, the new self produced Verb T EP ‘Self Less’ ENJOY!

 

Get it HERE

D.P – An American Scene

Posted in Uncategorized on June 15, 2011 by figmentuk

D.P is an Indie Hip-Hop artist from Florida, has been releasing music independently since 2007 and has acheived over 17,000 direct downloads and 4,000 sales of music since then.

As a trained pianist, all the music is produced by him from scratch. D.P has played shows around the country (mostly in Florida) and opened for Goodie Mob, Bone Thugs N Harmony, Dead Prez, Cage, P.O.S., and others as direct support. Currently managed by a reputable management firm, Fly South Music Group who handles a few major and indie acts (Paramore, A Day To Remember, Sollilaquists of Sound) his album ‘fortyeighthours*’ was listed by Kevin Nottingham in his top-ten best free albums of 2009.

*DEFINITELY CLICK THIS LINK! The album (as obvious from the title) was concieved, written, produced and mixed in 48 hours and D.P shows us the whole process through a series of webisodes. Very intriguing viewing and a brilliant concept.

“An American Scene” opens with the title track, which begins with a menacing, almost religious choir and D.P dropping in a cappella with a fast paced flow until the drums drop and the whole track comes into focus.

” a refreshing change to what has become a tried, tested and ultimately exhausted formula”

The album is very organic, thanks mainly to the original production which lends an acoustic quality to a genre that is too often over produced and crowded with sounds fighting for attention. This, and the lack of collaboration on any of the tracks helps to keep this an entirely personal affair and a refreshing change to what has become a tried, tested and ultimately exhausted formula among a majority Hip-Hop artists.

The subject matter is honest and easy to relate to on tracks such as “Thrown My Life Away” which sees D.P trying to justify the time and hard work he puts in to his music and ultimately wondering if it’s worth it. Definitely something all aspiring artists can understand and relate to. D.P has created an accessible sound with character, depth and self awareness, striking a perfect balance between conscious lyrical subject matter and radio friendly hooks and melodies. Tracks such as ‘It’s OK,’ – a semi celebratory lament on casual intoxication and ‘Are You Sleeping Alone’, – a musical equivalent of a 3am booty call text are catchy as hell without being repetitive or tacky.

I was thoroughly impressed with the project. Southern Hip-Hop can quite often get a bad rep for dumbing down and definitely has a clear love/hate divide as a sub genre. Although D.P doesn’t necessary class himself or his music as ‘southern hip-hop’ his accent and location will inevitably see him placed in such a category which is not necessarily a bad thing here as his music does not follow any of the negative connotations often associated with Southern Hip-Hop.

Visit D.P’s official website HERE for American Scene, Bar Tab Blues and the aforementioned Forty Eight Hours.

Honestly – DO NOT SLEEP ON THIS MAN!

This is My Rifle – Independent Dependent

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on April 26, 2011 by figmentuk

I was recently sent this very interesting piece by Jason James who writes a series called ‘This is My Rifle’ for the fantastic site ‘Refined Hype’. In this week’s article, Jason looks in depth at the benefits of being an independent artist as opposed to the major label model by applying his ideas to 3 current artists.

Jason is an artist, freelance columnist and writer for RefinedHype.com. You can listen/download his most recent album, “Marvelous World Of Color”, HERE and you can contact him HERE, and HERE

As an artist I’m generally subject to being asked one particular set of questions over and over again. On an almost daily basis I find myself repeating the same generic responses to the typical “When am I gonna see you on MTV?” and “How come you’re not on the radio?” inquiries, but the most common (and irritating) question I get asked is, “What label are you signed to?”.

I can think of no genre other than Hip Hop that places so much value on what record label an artist is affiliated with. In a lot of cases an artist’s status within the culture’s food chain relies more on whether they’re on a major label than the quality of their actual music. It’s because of this way of thinking that many great artists within Hip Hop are often overlooked and end up either moving into other facets of the music industry or giving up completely. This general perception is extremely damaging to the culture as a whole and does nothing but destroy the credibility of many of Hip Hop’s true innovators, since most of the forward thinking artists are ignored by the major labels, only to set the trends that they follow in the future.

“When thinking about major labels the first thing you have to do is remove the notion that they have anything to do with music”

In every other comparable musical genre (Rock, Blues, Punk) artists are looked at as “selling out” upon signing with a major label and most lose a large chunk of their original fan base due to the overall idea that their music will now be weak and diluted. But Hip Hop works in reverse; most artists aren’t taken seriously until being picked up by a major, which normally results in the artist spending the duration of their contract in constant debt. Unfortunately in Hip Hop, artists often have to choose between creative freedom or becoming a puppet for profit; making terrible music and perpetuating whatever trend is popular at the time.

When thinking about major labels the first thing you have to do is remove the notion that they have anything to do with music. Sure, there are a few people who work for the majors that actually care about music but most of the people involved play more the role of an investor looking for the largest possible return on their investment. In essence major labels are banks with unreasonably high interest rates; their job is to loan money to the artist and do everything they can to recoup the loan while at the same time capitalizing on the interest.

In the past, major labels were the only way to reach big international markets and they were able to control a large portion of the music that flowed through them. Because of this, artists had no choice but to sign with the labels, often without the help of a lawyer, and thus handing over all of their rights in the process. The typical deals that were being put together were more or less scams built to incur as many costs on the artist’s behalf as possible, only paying out 10-15% of album royalties once expenses were covered.

It was during this period that the term “slave deal” became a common term among artists and most of us educated ourselves on the shady deals that the majors were using as the standard recording contract template. Then in the late 90’s the internet came around and changed the face of music forever. For all of the prior years the music industry had been in existence, the labels relied strictly on album and single sales to recoup on their investment, mostly leaving the tour and merchandise sales untouched. But as the internet became more prevalent and record sales dropped (especially in Hip Hop), the majors created what’s referred to as a “360 deal”.

A 360 deal is just what the name insinuates: instead of relying on album sales alone, the majors now take a percentage of all revenue the artist generates. While I understand the need for the 360 deal, since album sales are at an all-time low, these deals have the potential to be more damaging to an artist’s financial stability than the previous model since it takes a percentage of the income that an artist would need to survive. In the past, artists could rely on tour money and other promotional ventures in order to keep their bills paid, but now they have to take into consideration how much money their tour is netting and how many hands are in their pockets. Between the percentage the label takes, paying managers, publicists, etc., they stand to make very little in the end.

So here’s where the independent labels come in. While most independents have dramatically smaller budgets and staff, they are a lot more artist friendly since they have more to prove and have to make up for the lack of funds with dedication. A vast majority of the independents have very flexible contract structures with fewer options which is good for the artist should they choose to leave. A direct contrast to the majors, successful independents are heavily reliable on artist cooperation and will work to keep their artists happy. Of course, there are bad independent labels out there that function like small majors, so as always it’s important to do some research on the company before entering into an agreement with them. And due to their lack of major label funding and manpower, they can sometimes be dismal failures in properly marketing and promoting their artists. The independent route is really only for artists who either already have a solid fan base or will attract the fan base that the label has built into it.

So which is better? Major or independent labels? Below I’ve comprised a list of 3 very different artists with very different needs and applied my own personal opinion as to what I think would be beneficial for their careers:

Exhibit A – Big K.R.I.T. (Def Jam)

There aren’t too many artists out there that are as widely appreciated as K.R.I.T. at this point in time. “Return Of 4Eva” is without question one of the best albums of the past decade and his appeal spans across all of the sub-genres within Hip Hop. The problem though is that I don’t think Def Jam knows how to push an artist of K.R.I.T.’s caliber. Due to his sound and lyrical content, the only way to realistically push him into the mainstream is to change his image and re-package him along the lines of current Southern Hip Hop luminaries like Rick Ross and Jeezy, which won’t work because K.R.I.T. isn’t that type of artist.

Just like their massive failure to put any real money behind The Roots, I see Def Jam doing the same thing with K.R.I.T., scratching their heads trying to figure out how to mesh real life music with the popular mainstream themes (bitches, drugs, money). I’m sure that at some point in the near future Def Jam will try to pair him with Rihanna in hopes of him crossing over, and when the record proves to be nothing more than a contrived attempt to force him into pop music, K.R.I.T. will drop another classic album with little to no support from the label. From there I think he should do everything he can to get the label to let him go make the independent move. Because he has such a broad fan base and appeals to so many different people, K.R.I.T. will undoubtedly be more successful on the independent route. Even with just a solid manager, booking agent and publicist he’ll gain exponentially by being independent and putting his focus on touring rather than fitting in on top 40 radio.

Exhibit B- Odd Future aka OFWGKTA (Unsigned)

There’s an inherent danger in the sudden overnight flare up that Odd Future is experiencing, and it’s the danger of disappearing just as fast as their popularity grew. While I don’t believe that the group is a passing trend, they desperately need a major label to step in and make their movement even bigger. Since they’re all fairly young, they need the guidance of professionals who know how to pump large amounts of money into them and capitalize on the moment. Also, a major label would help to repair their damaged relationships with the blogs (Nah Right & 2 Dope Boyz to name a few) and push them further into the demographic that they appeal to. They need muscle to connect them to bigger opportunities and at the same time facilitate the group so they can continue to grow, and unfortunately an independent label just wouldn’t have the ability to do this like a major would.

And because they’re so young, they are a long-term investment, which means there has to be a continuous funnel pouring money into the group to keep them afloat. Over time their sound will undoubtedly change and so they need a company that has the power to constantly re-work the presentation of the group according to what stage they’re at in their careers. While most of today’s artists would find greater success being independent, Odd Future is an example of how the major label model is still very necessary in some cases.

Exhibit C – Shane Eli (Unsigned)

There is no other artist in Hip Hop at this moment that possesses as much talent and potential as Shane Eli. Having just dropped his second (and classic) album “I Can Do Better”, Shane is the perfect example of being stuck in the middle between underground and mainstream appeal. Much like Big K.R.I.T., Shane is a member of the new batch of MC/producers to emerge on the scene but there’s a noticeable difference between the two: while K.R.I.T. tends to dominate in one lane, Shane bounces around, successfully weaving between various styles and topics. The problem that comes into play with an artist as versatile as Shane is that he’s unpredictable and in the age of manufactured artists, he’s never going to make the same song twice which scares the robots that feed the mainstream.

In my opinion, artists like Shane need to be held up and appreciated as beacons of creativity in the stagnant world that is modern day Hip Hop. He is a sign of the return of true writers and producers to the landscape and I think he needs the exposure that only a major label can provide. But, with that said, I also believe that his major label career should be short lived since he has the ability to crossover but also maintain the typical Hip Hop sensibilities, which will indefinitely generate a massive fan base from across many different genres of music. From there my suggestion would be to start his own label (with major backing) or sign to a mid-size independent, which has the money to fund an artist of adequate stature but can also match Shane’s creativity with the innovative approach that most independents have. Artists like Shane Eli are few and far between and it’s because they’re so rare that it’s hard to pinpoint exactly where they belong. But the up side to being one of those artists is that they translate perfectly on both ends; underground and mainstream.

“Those who choose to be independent may have to work harder but they’re in total control of their music and their brands”

In this day and age and with so many outlets, there are many different paths to success that an artist can take. And as artists like Tech N9ne, Radiohead and Trent Reznor have proven, a few good ideas and a great team goes a long way. While all 3 have had major label backing to propel them to into the mainstream spotlight, they’ve also been examples of how a different approach can create an incredible amount of momentum. I guess it just all depends on what your goals are. If you’re looking for fame and awards, go with the majors. If you’re looking for longevity and maximizing your earning potential, the independents might be for you.

In the end, hard work equals results. Those who choose to be independent may have to work harder but they’re in total control of their music and their brands. Personally, I prefer to be in control and guide my brand as I see fit. I mean, what do you think you’re reading right now?

Mystro – Takin’ it to The Bank

Posted in mystro on April 13, 2011 by figmentuk

Mystro has teamed up with Red Kite Learning to bring you ‘Takin’ it to The Bank,’

A new track, produced by ‘Show N’ Prove’ which aims to promote the charity’s campaign for disadvantaged Londoners – focusing on getting them back into work; a homegrown issue that I’m sure we can all appreciate.

Red Kite Learning helps people to address the following pathways out of poverty:

Life Skills – developing personal, functional and employability skills to enable a good quality of life.

Life Experience – learning how to deal with transition and responsibility effectively.

Work Experience – developing careers that go beyond the minimum wage and enable a decent standard of living.

Life Styles – building positive futures that are free from debt, violence, crime and substance misuse.

Last year, Red Kite Learning helped more than 4,800 individuals achieve meaningful education and work outcomes. This included delivery of more than 2,700 skills assessments; more than 1,600 employment preparation qualifications; more than 500 literacy, numeracy, ESOL and I.T. qualifications; and more than 1,000 voluntary and paid work placements. Our man Mys-Diggi had this to say;

“It will be interesting to see whether the banks get behind Red Kite Learning and show some support. We’ve got a tale of two cities on our hands here in London; the best and worst of times. It’s good timing for the banks to make a social statement.”

So, check out the video below which was made by the same guy who did Mystro’s ‘U Live and U Learn’ and ‘Around My Way’ videos – Ian Gamester. and visit the website for Takin’ it to The Bank HERE for more info.

What’s Up – Brand New Episodes to Pick TV

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on April 12, 2011 by figmentuk

Brand new urban youth culture show to PICK TV (Freeview 11/ Top Up TV 11/ Virgin TV 180/ Sky Digital 152/ Live TV online: Tvcatchup.com) ‘What’s Up’, is airing it’s final episode of the series on Monday 11th April 2011 at 7pm!! Repeat this Saturday 9th April at 9am.

‘What’s Up’ ends the series with thoughts of Peace, if only for just one day.. but before that they relax at African Jazz event IBILE, have a tour around MBE designer and stylist Walé Adeyemi’s office, ask some crucial question to students about the EMA and their future education choices and dance along with RnB group, Ruff Diamondz.

Here’s the promo for episode 6:

For those who don’t know, the show is about Urban Youth Culture & Lifestyle. In past episodes they have had Lemar, Dizzee Rascal, Sway, Mica Paris and NDubz from the music scene. Noel Clark, Adam Deacon, Victor Romeo Evans, Tameka Empson and Chris Tummings of acting fame. They have had British fashion designers who have designed for the likes of Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson and Victoria Beckham as well as behind the scenes access to different events. The show has covered social issues such as Gun & Knife crime, Youth unemployment, Baby Fathers and Sexual Health. If it involves Youth Culture, ‘What’s Up’ will cover it.

Show your support by liking and adding yourself to their social network pages below:
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Past shows can be viewed HERE

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