One9Ate7 - 2021: The Rap Up

From a jarring January to a sunny Snaylamville in September through to a dreary December. My mental health is fucked but my passion for music, commitment and grind is at an all time high.

This year was huge for me, firstly and most importantly - hooking up with Lab79 and working with a collective of UK legends to help get their music out to a whole new generation of fans.

The whole reason for moving away from reviews into other areas of the business was to connect the dots together, putting artists in touch with labels, putting labels in touch with videographers and graphic designers, putting artists in touch with DJ's and radio shows and putting artists in touch with each other to strengthen the foundations of a struggling scene.

This time last year I set a list of goals that I wanted to achieve and i'm proud to say I've achieved every single one of them...I'm a published writer now having appeared in a couple of legit publications, my promo work has been featured on a number of music websites and blogs and practically every artist I've worked with this year has got some strong airplay.

The soundtrack to my year has been a backdrop of immense, homegrown Hip Hop and if you've ever taken a chance on an artist at my recommendation previously, I hope you continue by checking out the following list of my favourite UKHH releases from 2021.

(If you click on the Artist/Album title it'll link you to their Bandcamp where possible as Spotify is a piece of shit)

This is far from a comprehensive list and i'm sure i'll catch some flack for not remembering an album or two but here is it, in no particular order...

Slippy Skills - Multiple Mind States

For his first full-length solo release 'Multiple Mind States' - Slippy Skills delivers a well-honed hybridised style of home-grown Hip Hop sprinkled with Drum & Bass influences that span 16 diverse tracks, packed to the brim with razor-sharp, witty penmanship, machine-gun delivery and content as eclectic as the title suggests. The album is one of the most original, refreshing and energisied you will hear from a UK artist in 2021.

Red Master - Unsung King

Red Master triumphantly returned to the UK scene after a long period of inactivity. ‘Unsung King’ comprises 13 self-produced tracks that showcase Red at his absolute best - Hungry, energetic and vicious as he displays his trademark style and unrivalled flow patterns brimming with relentless barrages of hardcore lyricism with the only guests being Same Brain Entertainment members, Ageing Rapper Vex and CRXSS.

The standard bearer for hardcore, Underground Hip Hop...Only for connoisseurs.

Wordsmiff - The Grownman Showcase:

We finally get to see Wordsmiff come full circle as he unapologetically offers an insight into his innermost thoughts and feelings by touching on subjects such as racism, redemption, grief, mental illness and becoming a parent.

The album showcases his growth and maturity while still remaining true to his roots as a blistering emcee and serves as another solid release to add to his lengthy and often controversial history within the UK Hip Hop scene. Fantastically produced by Tom Caruana.

Montener the Menace - Anyone Home?

Montener has a great ear for beats and each cut he's picked has the potential to serve as a standalone single while also fitting in snugly with the overall vibe of the album. Lyrically the album is on point too showcasing a seamless blend of Homegrown Hip Hop and styles from across the Atlantic that can boast an array of world-class guest features at their absolute best and despite the star-power included Montener never sounds out of his depth.

Uncle Mic Nitro - Vincent on Horseback

A flawless blend of filthy, dusty drum breaks that have been teleported straight from our very own "Britcore" era, unforgivingly panel beaten and welded onto a rich tapestry of loops that give a really big budget sound. When these beats are added into the mix with his breathless, multi-syllabic rhyme schemes and machine gun delivery you get a hybrid style and sound that feels as though it ties together all era's of UK Hip Hop - It's old skool in ethos but progressive in delivery.

Motman x Micall Parknsun - The 3rd Tier

Motman & Micall Parknsun. Two sides of the same coin, Two eras in UK Hip Hop bridged by the love of the craft and mutual respect. One of the greatest producers of all time passing the baton to one of the biggest prospects the scene has had in over a generation. Motman always sounds hungry and engaged, like his life depends on delivering while Parky is at the top of his game and stands out as one of the most prolific producers in the scene. The double CD edition packs in 21 tracks with some amazing and eclectic guest features.

Juga-Naut x Giallo Point - Smoke Filled Room

Juga-Naut seems to have ascended to a higher tier of craftsmanship with this release and Giallo just ups the ante every single time they collide. Juga-Naut has an almost perfect back-catalogue and this release feels like his best album to date.

It's about time that the both of these artists started getting the recognition they deserve.

Amos x Palmer Eldritch - Unhappy Birthday

The bastard offspring of a Shane Meadows' drama & David Lynch's surrealism. Palmer Eldritch digs deep into dusty crate territory by supplying combinations of brooding cinematic soundscapes and haunting hints of psychedelia. Amos guides the listener on this lugubrious & claustrophobic journey. Ever-present is his off-kilter humour, trademark cynicism as well as his distinct method of dispersing this complex, well-honed style. Unconcealed, self-reflecting and raw.

Mick Swagger - Magnifique

Stacks of charisma with a proper effortless flow, Mick Swagger just seems to be packing punch after punch after punch. He's one of only a handful of artists who can easily rap circles around the rest of the current generation of emcee's and still not begin to break a sweat.

Dope beats from Farmabeats & Nicholas Craven and solid guest features.

Statue Stance - Commentating on a Massacre

Amos kicks in your teeth from the get go and continues to pummel away at your cerebral cortex, his words clawing after your thalamus and proceeding to root there. When it comes to the production, Hooper Stax brings an absolute onslaught of hardware-heavy, hybridised Boom Bap/LoFi system smashers to flood your ears with monolithic kicks and bone crunching snares that stick in your ears with a thick, waxy consistency.

JVF Clique - Tactical Stacking

Their sound and style is uncompromising - it's not asking for you to like it or vouch for it, it exists on it's own terms. JVF Clique are masters of depicting the filth and sleaze of everyday life.

The production is crafted by Papa Doc - oozing with that homegrown sound of tight drums and pulsating bass spliced onto obscure samples which is the perfect match for the vocal display of two emcee's to deliver their warts and all narratives.

Cosm x Micall Parknsun - Aspetta

Great release from Cosm who has consistently shown that he is one of the best prospects we've currently got within the scene. He's solid at painting visuals with his bars and packs a hell of a punch with his similes, a true artist who's got his style locked down.

Once you add Micall Parknsun and his AKAI into the mix then it's practically game over. Packed full of quality lyricism and smooth, Boom Bap beats.

Blue City CDF - Into the Void

Precision programmed drums resonate throughout the project and the overlaid samples sound like they're taken straight from a once loved but now long forgotten vinyl where your needle picks up a wedge of fluff on each rotation around the platter.

The bars are catchy and delivered with passion and integrity like only true fans of Hip Hop could. Blue City are students of the game - paying homage to what has proceeded them, while reaching out towards the future and leaving their own mark as they step into the void...

Amos x Phore Cite - Razor

Amos drops more quotables on Razor than Ric Flair has title wins and all the guests deliver with PPV quality verses. It's absolutely amazing to hear Yung Lung spit with the same focus and integrity on tracks as his brother does - showing that talent can be deeply rooted within your DNA, it's almost like the iconic Bret and Owen Hart sharing the ring. Kebabus sets the pace throughout with some diverse and ever-heavy production that reels right back and smacks you in the face.

Cracker Jon & ViolentlyIll - Bought off and Silenced by Gizmos and Toys

The duo equate to an odd pairing at first sight but as soon as you sink your teeth into the album you quickly discover what an absolute gem it is.

Cracker Jon's snarling, eccentric content and off-kilter lyrical delivery meet pulsing, low-end bass-lines and intricately chopped samples for a toxic cocktail of New-Wave & Boom Bap served up by Violentlyill.

Brighty - Transformation

Bursting to the seams with catchy, head-nodding production and a mixture of solid rhymes and thought-provoking lyrical content which has its sight firmly fixed on the mainstream for the attention it deserves…

‘Transformation’ also boasts some stellar guest features from Blue City CDF, Cam Solo, O.Davies, Kenny Cadence, DW Smith, ESS, Wolfgang Von Vanderghast, Risk1, Formless, Cherrie, Big Dex & Tytun with 17 out of the 18 tracks being masterfully produced by O.Davies.

DJ Nappa - Redress

UKHH legend DJ Nappa gets a chance to showcase his production skills on his first solo outing. His ear for samples is outstanding and the way he constructs the tracks from them is awe inspiring. Solid release from one of the most influential and respected producers to ever come from the UK.

GrimeeQuick - Cyan Blue

GrimeeQuick has taken a stand against the bullshit, the banal and the more often than not -comical existence of modern day Britain. This is art - expressed from the heart and mind in it's rawest and most purest form, inner thoughts and opinions broadcast through the medium of Rap over head-nodding Boom Bap.

He's a talented writer and has a great knack for constructing songs with interesting and sometimes obscure concepts, all the while keeping it enjoyable and entertaining.

Up 2 Know Good - Up 2 Know Good

Heavily reminiscent of the 90's golden-era - full of fantastically looped and chopped samples sprinkled with heavy, head-nodding drum grooves. Dot.I and Bad FX are given free reign to demonstrate their fantastic chemistry and mic' presence as they bounce off each other effortlessly, lacing the production with their homegrown style of laid back, thought provoking Hip Hop.

Muz - The DEAD Wait

A narrative of personal truths, unmasked, unashamed and unsettling - spat out over a haunting post-apocalyptic soundscape - This fully self-produced, debut album is a foreboding and intoxicating journey touching on subject matter rarely tackled from artists within the Hip Hop community seeing MUZ unmask and bear all....

A piece of History in the making, focusing on the present day and the very near future...

Well Happy Music - Gin N' Chronic EP

This project is like the acid-laced brew at a party with it's enticing charm and spreading warmth that slowly turns into a mind-bending trip as the walls melt around you while the beats bang and throb as they batter your lugholes.

The onslaught of heavy bars keep you anchored to the ground just long enough to feel centred until the hooks smack you in the chest, uprooting you from your little cotton wool comfort zone.

Gin & Chronic is eccentric and off-kilter but still cohesive and extremely well presented.

4 Flew Over - Live From the Cuckoos Nest

Spanning a short but solid 6-tracks and ranging in sound from classically styled, bass heavy Boom Bap all the way down to scarce, haunting pianos with thudding drums, the production has been masterfully woven together by 7th Sense, Skint and Hush1.

The emcee trio ferociously frolic and flow like no other group could as their unparalleled chemistry seeps through the pores of every track and is emphasised by every kick and snare...

KAO - Liability Jones: The EP

The production is handled by a who’s who of the UK scene with DJ Kuku, Sumgii the legendary Beat Butcha and American producer Kil bringing their A-game with unprecedented levels of style and finesse to match Kao’s vocal and lyrical talents. Stylin, Profilin, West London Rhymin’, Mack with the mouth – He manages to present his bars in a precise, methodical fashion as well as showcasing fantastic chemistry and versatility with Verb T and up-and-coming wordsmith, Cactus Corino covering all bases.

Deeq - Obsidian

Appealing to those with a penchant for the veracious sound of underground Hip Hop.

The bars are brimming with metaphor fueled imagery, shrouded in mysticism and delivered in his captivating and engaging style. The levels of penmanship is matched beautifully by brooding, ominous soundscapes which range from dusty and drum heavy to cold, isolated and drum absent instrumental cuts provided by Zatoichi’s Ears.

Cactus Corino - Escapism

Bubbling with dark humour, satire and sprinkled with self-reflection; Cactus unique style of rhyming and delivery is a breath of fresh air in a scene where creativity and individuality seem like a lost art. He rides the beats like a veteran and shows the passion, confidence and energy of a newcomer while maintaining the ideal balance between both styles.

Conflix - Investment in Loss

A fantastic return to form from the veteran emcee as he presents the culmination of thoughts and feelings jotted down from the past ten years. Effortlessly delivering complex rhyme schemes and painting vivid imagery over production from Lab79 stable-mate Manage and Monkey6Monkey2.

Bonus Bangers:

Apocraphe - The Escapist Handbook

Frisco Boogie - C.I.R.C.U.S

Twizzy - Crabs in a Bucket

Heavy Links - NWC

Wishmaster x Illinformed - Cold Harbour Tales

Jester Jacobs x Formz - Grimefulness

Archetype x FlowTecs - Archetecs

Vandal Savage - Sauvage

Children Of Zeus - Balance

GOTM - Always

Conscious Route & True Note - Lost Routes Flip Tape

Shout out to:

My whole Lab79 family - Manage, eMCee Killa, Conflix, Reain, Skirmish, Jack Diggs, Menace Mendoza, Apex, Teach. Sleaford Mods & Claire, Red Master, Uncle Mic Nitro, Amos, Junior Disprol, Slippy Skills, the whole Revorg Records squad, everyone at Bard Picasso Records, Motman and all at Runt Life Records, my Gold on the Mixer family, Killa Tapes, Hellfire Corner: Amanda, Omus & OCD, F.A.T.P,, DJ Sammy Jay, Canadian Dad Reacts, Ill Move Sporadic, Tenchoo, DJ Captain Co, Oojama Flip, LeftLion Magazine, Selektion Sounds, Murzi, Nuke Fam Records, Kemetstry, Scrap Gold, Well Happy Music, The Nicewun JM, Wordplay Magazine, Full Clip Magazine, Raven Eye Creatives, Shotgun the Aux, Apocraphe, Frisco Boogie, Montener, DJ EvilEd, Jack Forcefield, Heavy Links, Mick Swagger, Cappo, Scorzayzee, Vandal Savage, Juga-Naut, Local Healers, Louis Cypher, Soundweight Records, IRN MNKY, Violentlyill, Ill Records, Mr Bones, Big Daddy Rap Beast, Cracker Jon, Certain Sound Records, JVF Clique, Conscious Route, KAO & Cactus, Wordsmiff, Ryan Proctor @ Old To The New,, Disorda & Suspect Packages, Blade and 05:21, MRC Promotions, The Drip Hip Hop Show: Copiusbeats, D.S.O.T.M and to anyone I've missed - I'll catch you on the next one!

Peace, Love & Blessings for 2022...

RIP Smedders


Words by One9Ate7

IG- @One9Ate7

Twitter- @One9Ate7

Facebook- One9Ate7


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