UKHH.COM : Ethan Everton picks out his ten UK hip-hop producers to watch for in 2015.
Since this site was started back in 1999, we’ve enjoyed watching our homegrown talent grow from strength to strength. We firmly believe that 2015 shall prove to be one of the most significant chapters of UK hip-hop history so far. Last year saw the release of some of the most exemplary hip-hop products to ever be released from our shores, and all over the world people are starting to take notice of the heads who have been consistently laying it down for the scene.
So far we’ve been hit with Boom Bap Festival’s all-star line-up, bringing the likes of Earl Sweatshirt and Ratking overseas to represent; we’ve seen The Four Owls make history by topping the iTunes Hip Hop chart; we thought we’d play our part and pay homage to ten producers out there to watch for in 2015, who are currently representing UK hip hop to the fullest extent.
Any heads unfamiliar with Sumgii’s exploits over 2014 must have been buried in sand. Residing in North West London, Sumgii’s career stemmed from the Piff Gang and LDZ collectives, where he established a foothold in the scene with unique glitch-driven, boom-bap influenced productions. Last year his notoriety excelled, when the hip hop community witnessed two highly acclaimed debut projects alongside the veteran Problem Child gang and the eerie Cult Mountain collective, on top of collaborations with the likes of Inja, Jman and more. Despite his apparant unpredictability, one thing that’s remained persistent through his short career is his unparalleled ability to bring something truly authentic to the pallet, and 2015 looks to be his busiest year yet:
I’ve produced a large percentage of Don silk aka MILKAVELLI solo LP. Production for Phaze What solo LP. New Cult Mountain (Trellion, Lee Scott, Milkavelli, Sumgii) material. Working on new project with Onoe Caponoe. SUMGii solo EP coming out on Par-excellence records. Problem Child EP followed by UK / Europe tour. Various productions for Black Josh, Dream McLean (MTA records), itsnate, Piff Gang, Dabbla, Trellion and more. Busy busy.
There are few producers hailing from West Yorkshire who are currently bringing the boom-bap levels like Leeds based beatmaker Jack Danz, resident of the increasingly infamous Defenders Of Style collective, where the seeds of his legacy were initially sown with the highly received Thoughts Of The Nameless debut LP which dropped back in 2009. Having mastered just about every release formulated from the camp since, he expanded his reach by engineering Lego’s debut The Rendition with the Boom Bap Professionals, and has affiliated alongside Sheffield’s shady Bad Taste Records label with artists such as Trellion and Figment, most recently collaborating with Bristol’s Split Prophets collective. As a lyricist himself he can adapt beats to suit any persona; one of those rare producers who can truly empathize with the wordplay and effectively enhance the flows. We got in touch to learn what’s coming in 2015:
Jack Danz/D.Boogie Defenders of styledefenders of style LP, and my solo LP ‘Ouija Slang’. Both dropping 2015!
Regarded as one of the hardest working artists in the game, Leaf Dog has solidified his place at the forefront of the UK hip hop movement with contributions both lyrically and instrumentally alongside the likes of DJ Premier, KRS One and Vinnie Paz. Stemming from his legendary solo debut From A Scarecrow’s Perspective (2009), Leaf Dog’s initial nationwide acclaim quickly expanded into an extensive worldwide following, subsequent to a string of high profile releases released with High Focus (check Four Owls, Brothers Of The Stone). As co-founder of RLD Records, he’s also been overseeing the gradual emergence of Jack Jetson, index and the NLP quadret, both lyrically and on the boards. Over the course of his career he has developed a formidable fanbase addicted to his predominantly soul influenced, bass heavy productions. He hit us up with an insight into what he’s currently working on for 2015:
I got the new Four Owls album, an album with Young Zee from the Outsidaz and my new solo album coming this year! Also some big collaborations from overseas!
Having joined Blah Records, an occultist hip hop label driven underground for introducing ideologies including (but not limited to) the ‘Brick Pelican cold-sag’, following the label’s legendary Tourette’s Camp (2007) debut, Reklews has been busy keeping his nose far from clean in the shadows of the reinvigorated Blah movement. His contribution to the collective can not be understated – there were seldom releases dropped from Blah over the past decade which Reklews hasn’t either overseen personally, or contributed to in the background on the boards. An unnerving knack of affiliating with unconventionality, combined with perturbingly authentic production traits, has brewed into a reputation as one of Merseyside’s coldest instrumentalists. Go check the Rekstrumental volumes (1 , 2 , 3 , 4) and you’ll understand why. We got in touch to discover what he’s got in store for 2015:
I’ve got tracks coming with Bang On, Lunar C, Black Josh, Tommy Dockerz, Jman, Res, Sleaze & Sonnyjim, Cheech & Dubbul O and loads other heads who hopefully wont be offended I forgot them…
It’s becoming more and more said that as far as Mancunian hip hop goes, there’s rarely a release that leaves Lancashire which hasn’t left Pro P’s fingers sticky; whether tucking into the talent emerging from Room2 Records since the label surfaced in 2013 – overseeing the rise of Free Wize Men, Voodoo Black and Dubbul O to name just a few – or backing the boards for the likes of the nation’s favourite cannabis advocating collective, The Bluntskins. Rivaling the quality of Pete Cannon and Kydro amongst Manchesters most dedicated producers, his extensive instrumental discography etches across six banging Boom Bap Beat Tape Volumes (so far) and three annual beat compilations, on top of a huge portfolio of formidably boom-bap orientated beats featuring some of the nations most on-point up-and-coming spitters. We hit up the man himself for an exclusive insight into what he’s got coming in 2015:
In 2015 I’ll be producing a new Bluntskins album which I’m working on now. I’ve produced most of Irish Mc “Danny Diatribes” new album “Elevation Illustrations” out soon on Room2 Records. I’m also producing a full project for NSR (Spider Jaroo, Amos & Evileyz). Me and Cheech from the Bluntskins are gonna work on another solo project, me and Dubbul O are looking to do a another project after we dropped “Omega” last year.
I’m part of the Room2 Collective so I’ll be producing tracks on a lot of the Room2 Releases, too many mc’s to list on there! I just produced the majority of Liverpool group “Beyond Averages” new album that dropped two weeks ago, and we’re looking to do more work together in 2015. I got tracks I produced for Kingpin who was part of Caxton Press dropping this year on his new album, Dotz has got beats off me he’s working on, plus I’ll drop a good few beat tapes as well.
As far as beat-makers go, few bring the hooks heavier than DJ Bad Habitz. Renowned for his initial exploits with Krate Krusaders, but most recently for his artistry alongside the Split Prophets collective, Bristol’s most acclaimed hip hop label in recent years, Bad Habitz has become considered one of the scene’s most exciting prospects, having produced the majority of the Prophets output since their emergence half a decade ago. Last year, he played a huge part in engineering the camps biggest releases, Upfront’s Upfront And Personal and Bil Next & Paro’s Weedmasons EP, and of course produced the incredibly received remix album Diggin Up The Past, which covered eighteen UK hip hop singles from eighteen of the scenes legendary acts, demonstrating his incomparable versatility, proving to possess compatibility with the nation’s most acclaimed spitters. He revealed to us what he’s planning to drop in 2015:
Well, I have an album coming around Feb time with Life MC, the first album he’s done without Nappa on the boards! Which feels an honour. I’m helping Res and Flying Monk put together solo projects, working towards a Split Prophets album which will be the full crew produced by myself and Blanka. I have a Krate Krusaders project called self assembled messiah which I’ve been sat on for a couple of years now. I’m hoping it will see light in 2015!
I’ve been sending Dotz beats for his next album but can’t confirm if any of my tracks have made it. I’ve also started another remix project which again I hope will be out this year too.
We have a few euro shows lined up for 2015 with my Split Prophets gang and hopefully a little tour in the spring, we’re also in talks trying to negotiate a tour in Australia but it’s early days yet so we’ll see.
2late also known as 2lizzy and the funk masta lurks within London’s murky underground, recognised for his affiliations with funk-appreciative heads alike, including High Focus’ Cracker Jon with the Delusional Crackerz EP (2011) and most recently the debut LP You Can Take The Cracker Out Of Croydon (2014), Blah Record’s Dirty Dockerz duo on the 2lit EP (2013), as well as Blahs own funkadelic specialist Sly Moon (See The Funk Off, Say What) and Bill Shakes to name a few. Inspired by the likes of Jdilla, Redman and other 90’s heads, his resilience to keep his beats nostalgically rough and raw has earned him a reputation as one of UK hip hop’s more reliably rugged beat makers. We got in touch to hear what other cold shit he’s got coming through in 2015:
Got shit comin a project with Bisk, a project with Lee Scott and Black Josh. New Cracker Jon album. That’s only so far, more shit to come as well…
Illinformed has become increasingly noticed since he started backing the beats for RLD Records over the past two years. Over the course of his short career he has collaborated with the likes of KRS-One, Ras Kass and Apathy, and has gone on to make big impressions on UK hip hop followers for his contributions on the boards beside his Brothers Of The Stone in their self titled LP (2013), and began turning more heads in 2014 when his work on BVA’s Be Very Aware and NLP’s Free Your Mind debuts came to light. Alongside Lee Scott, the godfather of Blah Records, illinformed oversaw the second chapter of Scott’s ‘sh!t’ discography, Stupid Poignant Sh!t, which was acclaimed across most major forums as one of the best UK hip hop releases of 2013. His solo output has seen the release of three cannabis inspired Beat Tapes over 2013, and last year dropped two more hazy instrumental projects: Stay Sedated & Maintain The Supply. This year shall see the release of potentially his finest array of instrumentals to date:
I got my producer album coming soon ‘The Mould Tape’ featuring a bunch of heads. I’m also working on an album with Verb T, we got a lot of dope stuff down for that, also me Leaf and BVA are making the new Brothers Of The Stone and we are making an album with Young Zee from the Outsiderz, and I’m working on solo albums with Eric The Red and Sean Peng. They got a project together called ‘Creatures Of Habit’. Also I got a project with SonnyJim and another one with Fliptrix in the works, then there’s some tracks for the Apathay and OC album, and a few tracks with Ruste Juxx that should be out this year.
Sam Zircon, “a free spirit” not tied down to any label, emerged as a producer worth watching back in 2012, producing beats for Elliot Fresh and releasing the Beat Treats Vol.1 on soundcloud, which receiviced praise from the legendary DJ Nappa of Phi Life Cypher. His recognition continued to excel from there, following a collaboration project with Nottingham’s lyrical maestro Cappo, who both dropped the Un:Programmable Raw EP (2013) on Boot Records, one of the capital cities most commended hip-hop camps. Over the last year, Zircon has been quietly building a formidable back catalogue of intriguing instrumentals, adopting a darker emphasis on his music whilst keeping it real with his signature boom-bap heavy beats. Capable of creating engrossing listening experiences, his productions are gaining quick acclaim, and there’s more to come over 2015:
I’ve got an album with Stinkin Slumrok, album with Black Josh and Lee Scott, and me Bisk and Stinkin are working on suttin suttin! Just making music with ill emcees.
Telemachus / Chemo
Residing in South London, Telemachus (for solo projects) is a veteran producer whose reputation regularly exceeds itself. Having stood the test of time, he’s become widely regarded as one of the most innovative instrumentalists to ever grace the southern shores, having honed his craft alongside the ranks of the mighty YNR Records label under the pseudonym Chemo (for collaborations), and acting as head honcho for his homegrown label Killamanjaro Records. There are few artists who take the craft as seriously as himself. Possessing an undying motivation which has persistently produced compositions truly definable as both classic and unique, the past three months alone seen the release of two critically acclaimed collaboration albums with the High Focus camp (see Jam Baxter: …So We Ate Them Whole, Onoe Caponoe : Voices From Planet Cattele), and the transcendent solo project In Morocco. When we hit him up for details on his upcoming releases, he characteristically responded with this exclusive enigma:
Coming through in 2015: Hints of Nigerian High Life, Persian breakdancing, infusions of Portishead, beautiful melodies and a potent broth of medieval grime and accordion solo.
Article By Ethan Everton