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February 10, 2006

Klashnekoff – Focus Mode

This is a review i did a while ago for but forgot to post, enjoy.

focus mode

Klashnekoff / DJ Skully Focus Mode (mixtape)

Focus Mode is the new release from Klashnekoff, the terra firma frontman responsible for one of the tightest UK albums in recent years, ‘The Sagas of Klashnekoff.’ Focus Mode is an independently released mixtape, hosted by DJ Skully. The wide availability of this album (HMV, Fopp etc.) reflects not only the increasing marketability of the UKs brightest stars, but also a move towards American style mainstream mixtapes allowing for top artists to release new material several times in a year.

Im usually not a mixtape man. I find the constant switching of tracks annoying and in my experience many mixtapes are a refuge for substandard beats and lyricism. Thankfully the tracks on Focus Mode are mostly quite long and definitely heavy. The CD brings together various white label releases that would otherwise be unavailable to a more mainstream audience. K’s ‘Jamrock Takeover’ rides the success of one of the summer’s biggest tunes. But its not pure coasting, he does add some dope verses of his own and his ragga tinged style is perfectly paired with the beat. The white label release of this tune has been changing hands for £50 and upwards on ebay so its nice to see it here.

Another standout track is the remix of Black Rose. Combining the original lyrics over a very different beat, Klashnekoff completely changes the vibe of what was already an amazing track and gets twice the use out of his tale of complicated young love. Son of Niyah is revisited more loosely, using a beautiful and thoroughly addictive Sizzla sample that is a compensation for some fairly shoddy lyricism.

‘My thoughts grow like herbs in wild fields of mango, while certain man are jankrow and flex like flamingo…im out the manor smoking a poisonous vegetable.’

Dropping the nature references like a hip hop David Attenborough doesn’t do it for me this time but trust me though, this sample will make you forgive all, and it’s rare that the lyrics grate on you as badly as that. ‘Let it Go’ has been a favourite of mine for a while. Unfortunately the version included on here is pretty short and anyone who has the chance should seek out the full version alongside a guest verse from Ty.

The CDs got a live feel and its perfect driving music. Its more about the beats than the lyrics but its no worse for that and its honestly not been out of my system since I got a hold of it. I recommend that anyone cop this, especially if like me, they’ve been itching for more tracks from K ever since they wore out their copy of the sagas.

November 03, 2005

Dangerdoom – The Mouse and the Mask

dangerdoomDangerdoom – The Mouse and the Mask LP
Lex Records 2005

Getting into MF Doom can be a lengthy and expensive right of passage for the average hip-hop fan. He wears a mask, his rhymes are filled with obscure references and wordplay, and the man goes by many names. Daniel Dumile to the taxman but variously MF Doom, King Geedorah and Viktor Vaughn. To get your hands on his back catalogue is gonna involve several hundred pounds and a tense month on ebay.
Lately though hes hooked up with DJ Dangermouse, the man behind last year’s dope indie hit ‘Ghetto Pop Life’, and produced an album that’s seemingly accessible and yours for a tenner down Fopp or HMV. The album features guest appearances from Talib Kweli, Ghostface, and even, unusually for Doom, an actual recognisable hook from Cee-Lo Green. Its all simple until the man starts shouting aqua teen hunger force. The album is filled with references to Adult Swim, a series of cartoons aimed at adults which are shown on tv in the States. If, like me, this doesn’t mean much to you, the album is certainly not ruined but on some tracks, and especially on the interludes, you can feel a little left out.
This review focuses on Doom, but the man Dangermouse’s stock is definitely rising. The beats on this album are unobtrusive and funky with a live feel to the instrumentation. They’re not as dense as on the ‘Ghetto Pop Life’ album but they’re not as random as the stuff you find on other Doom albums like his Madvillain project. They provide a nice backdrop for Doom’s voice and lyrics, which were always going to take centre stage. Still, the more you listen the more you appreciate the overall sound. The songs are short and the consistency of the beats helps to establish the record as an album rather than the series of one-liners it could have been.
Doom certainly drops plenty of randomness though, and this is particularly apparent when put next to the coherent rhymes of Kweli or even Ghostface, who’s not exactly known for staying on topic. Still this is where the fun comes from with Doom. Even if you never get to the bottom of every song there are plenty of throwaway lines where Doom’s unique vocab and phrasing have you looking for a rewind quicker than a young Craig David.

Highlights include,

perfect hair to the second power of forever

from the womb to the tomb get that ricotta

the truly random,

pelican with some very soft mangoes, closet full of skeletons and terry cloth kangols

And finally my favourite, the perfect flow of

trick a honey dip into a game of strip limbo

Few men could pull off a song called vats of urine. No clever metaphor here, the song is about vats of urine and includes the weirdly detailed but sweetly delivered line

someday you may even show your son how to use it to make potassium nitrate for gunpowder

And for those of you who are after a more familiar face from your childhood saturday mornings check the song ‘Space Ho’s’ for the line

Our next guest, a real cutey specimen, and she’s starting to get a little booty, Miss Judy Jetson, so Judy, boxers briefs or fig leafs? As you know I wear my boxers on my big hh-hmm

All in all, a quality effort that is likely to see some new fans converted to the masked man and the musical mouse. A good way to get into Doom and a jumping-off point for other releases like Vaudeville Villain and the more conventional but no less dope ‘Ghetto Pop Life’ from Dangermouse and Gemini.

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