Labels to Watch in 2014

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Independent UKHH labels are the foundations of any underground rap artist. They provide a camp to hone lyrical ingenuity and engineer desired output in an environment which shuns the materialistic ideals of the mainstream industry. We formidably support the underground and every independent UKHH label because they continuously produce music that thrives without commercialised mass-exposure or finance, in our opinion providing the finest testament to the extensive home-grown talent that exists nationwide. For these reasons we thought it best to do our part and promote to you, the loyal supporters, insights into the incredible material set to emerge from a selection of the livest UKHH collectives.  Lee Scott, Ill Move Sporadic, BVA MC, Smellington Piff, Upfront MC, DJ Steady Rock, Jehst, Telemachus, Apex Zero, and Strange Neighbour spoke with us exclusively to confirm what their labels have in store for the people in 2014.

 

Blah Records

Blah RecordsIt’s true that some of the most innovative and chilling UKHH is currently emerging from the #blahcult. Now with over half a decade’s worth of releases accumulated between the Antiheroes, Children Of The Damned, Herrotiks, Reklews and the maverick duo Dirty Dockerz amongst others, they’ve ceaselessly provided some of the most diverse and cynical UKHH material to date. Be prepared for coldly demented bars, unnerving beats and a reconstruction of each knowledgeable fibre your brain possesses. This is a cult that was grimly endeavoured to fulfil the vices of only the illest hip-hop heads. The reputations of the founding artists are constantly being exceeded from an experience which is shed upon the ever-expansive cult following that is Blah Records. Blah veteran and lyrical maestro Lee Scott reveals exciting material to arise in 2014:

 

 

I’ve got some more solo projects finished, in the bag, complete, which included my album ‘Tin Foil Fronts’ and a Dirty Dike produced project. We got the COTD/Baxter collaborative project which won’t actually be released directly on Blah but it still has that Blah cult vibe. We got Black Josh – #Ratchet, and if you don’t know about Josh, get to! He’s going to smash it. We got Tommy Dockerz solo joint and I got some mad shit I have been making with Shakes, Grubb and Reklews. There’ll be loads of SH!T’s in there… And that’s just the shit I can remember. Look out for some Sly Moon shit too!

 

Starch Records

starchGaining wide affiliation across the UKHH scene since their 2009 emergence, Starch Records have provided the unmatched gritty lyricism of South-England based artists Theme, Joey Menza, Oliver Sudden, Gus Pony and Omar Teknology. It’s no secret that the majority of output from Starch Records has been produced by the capable hands of the Ill Move Sporatic duo, recently celebrated for their widely-acclaimed November release Drug Corpse. What do we know about these guys? That they bring unique and excellent beats with bars set to intrigue and cause wonder. We can only anticipate more of the same to transpire throughout 2014, and Ill Move Sporadic can confirm our expectations:

 

 

In 2014 Starch Records will be releasing more ruff, raw, realness – taking shit to the next level/stage. We gonna surprise you again! Bringing through some new heads and resurrecting some old ones. Keeping it DRING as usual. Keeping it underdog. Hopefully we gonna shake people up a bit! In 2014 Starch Records will not be listening to the hype!

 

High Focus

high focusBorn in 2010 with an intention to offer the latest generation of producers and rap artists a platform for development, the intertwined chemistry and creativity within the ranks of the High Focus crew quickly achieved them an undisputable reputation for producing some of the rawest hip-hop talents around. Their success is underlined by their extensive support from the hip-hop community, simultaneously breeding a new generation of hip-hop followers along the way. They define conceptual originality, constantly producing exciting new material ranging from the brilliant soul singing of Brighton’s Rag N Bone Man to the indoctrinating perceptions spoken by veterans Leaf Dog, Verb T and Dirty Dike to name just some of the admirable High Focus inner circle. Long anticipated material from founding artist and lyrical ace Fliptrix as well as more music from Ed Scissiortongue are, as BVA MC explains, just some of the reasons why this label must be watched by your third eye at all times:

 

 

High Focus has Cracker Jon release coming up, a new Fliptrix album and Edward Scissortongue has the Theremin EP coming as well. I’m sure there’ll be a Dirty Dike release at some point too. Me and Leaf Dog also have a label called RLD records where we have a Smellington Piff album (Notice of Eviction) and a Jack Jetson album (The Adventures of Jonny Strange) set for 2014.

 

RLD Records

rldAs BVA previously explained, RLD was spawned between himself and Leaf Dog. Formed to release their EP’s and records under The Three Amigos before their signing to High Focus, they have since signed up Jack Jetson and Index alongside NLP which consists of Smellington Piff, O.A.B, Sean Peng and Leaf Dogs brother Eric Da Red. In 2013 NLP stormed stages across the country in the build up and following their début album Free Your Mind, which was praised positively across the majority of UK hip-hop forums. This is a label that’s only bettering itself lyrically and instrumentally. Inextricably linked with some of the biggest rollers in UKHH we can’t wait for them to top last yeats output as the year progresses. Smellington Piff revealed to us just some of what to expect from RLD in 2014

 

 

Real Life Dramas got a lot in store for 2014! We got Jack Jetsons album entitled Adventures of Johnny Strange, then we’ve got my album entitled Notice of Eviction both reaching the final stages… it’s all go!! Beyond that I’m working on an album with Life MC, watch out for the Brainstorm!! I’ve finished an album with Cracker Jon (Bad Characters) and NLP are looking to start a new album. Plus we’ve got Index lining up numerous projects. We’re Gonna Fuck Shit Up! 2014 is the year. Now’s the time.

 

Split Prophets

split prophetsAnyone Bristol based will be fully aware of the antics noisily generated from the Split Prophets crew: Upfront, Res, Datkid, Bil Next , Paro, Blank, Badhabitz, Flying Monk and 2 Tungs. Guaranteed a place on most UK Hip-Hop stages over the Summer of 2013, the Winter hibernation accumulated the cannabis-advocate Weedmason’s EP for release on New Years Day. It perfectly exemplifies their growing standard of lyrical material following the successes of their releases Scribbled ThoughtsSouthbound & Down EP and Drugs, Booze and Dental Issues. As a collective they can cause riots at any venue, where they collaborate unique vocal flows with thumping hooks into an unmissable act. Upfront MC gave us a few tasty exclusives from the Split Prophets cauldron to be dished out across 2014:

 

 

It’s gonna be a busy year from the camp with a few different projects dropping, including my solo album “Upfront & Personal”, Flying Monk has a solo EP coming, me and him have a joint EP as well as Res who is also working on something. Me and Datkid are part way through an album and work with Life MC is almost ready too! As I say, there is a lot popping so keep your eyes peeled and your ears open for this years releases. Split prophets business!

 

Boom Bap Professionals

bbpWhen you think of the Boom Bap Professionals you recollect a catalogue of instrumentals & beats accumulated by DJ Steady Rock. You think of The Boom Bap Bootleg Volumes, bars from Efecks, Luca Brazi, Oliver Sudden and Lego, who has recently been celebrated for his The Rendition release. Self-promoted as an “independent record label specialising in authentic hip hop” their output has rapidly increased over the past 5 years, proudly establishing their stance in the scene for providing the revival of boom-bap styled production. With an archive of over 130 tracks uploaded onto their YouTube channel available to visit, you’ll be impressed with originality in abundance and classic UKHH material. It’s needless to say that any self-dubbed hip-hop head should aware of their movements. DJ Steady Rock reveals what the Boom Bap Professionals have in store for 2014

 

 

Well, this year is BBP’s 10th anniversary so there’s plenty in store! There’s a bunch of new artists I’m working with and projects dropping throughout the year. Look out for Steady & Oliver Sudden – The Shutdown Remixes, Oliver Sudden – Phenomenaler Steaz, Steady & Oliver Sudden – Preservatives and new singles from Lego and Benny Diction as well as a new B.O.M.B project. Besides from that there is a bunch of stuff that’s still being developed: including some new artists and some new projects to watch for!

YNR Productions

Untitled-1As time has passed, the UKHH spotlight has at times shifted towards the newest-generation of virally successive labels, thus consequentially providing less publicity to the labels that paved the road they tread upon. This of course is not true for YNR Productions. Since 1999 they have housed rap artists considered by many leading MC’s as inspirations, including veterans Jehst and Verb T (now signed to High Focus) to name just two. They’ve proved able to adapt to the hip-hop climate year after year, annually releasing highly anticipated material and persistantly proving that they still hold rank up amongst the livest UKHH collectives to date. With the ever growing repertoires of releases from YNR artists Jyagar, Kashmere, Kingdom Of Fear, Sir Smirff Lil and Telemachus tirelessly providing those classic UKHH sounds, you can never be fully in-the-know if you aren’t hyped for the material YNR is sitting on. Chief director of the label Jehst exclusively revealed just some of what to expect: 

 

 

YNR Productions will be kicking off 2014 with the debut mixtape from South London’s Confucius MC – ‘The Highest Order’ – entirely produced by Parisian beat-smith Keor Meteor. Keep your eyes peeled for the sophomore LP from Telemachus, which we can promise will take listeners even further afield as he expands his musical palette in terms of rhythm, tempo and texture. Plus new music from Jehst, the return of Kyza, and a whole lot more!

Telemachus on behalf of himself and his label Kilamanjaro added:

I’m gonna be focusing on releasing stuff as Telemachus. I’ve also nearly wrapped up an album with Jam Baxter. An EP with Onoe Caponoe is in the works and My Mate Does Beats will receive a 3rd installment. Also I will be the first UK HIPHOP MASSIVE CELEB to swim across the English Channel. Just need to buy the goose fat.

Design Chaos

Lyrical themes of militancy, revolution, racism, social inequalities, war crimes and exposing the worlds evils in typically neo-hardcore fashion is commonplace. The West London-based label which will be the ultimate legacy of the sworn-brotherhood between OMeza Omniscient and Apex Zero has effectively struck chords and stirred awareness into hip-hop heads nationwide. Their priorities are primed in revolutionizing the nation in opposition to a global dictatorship that will inflict poverty and murder for it’s own self benefit as well voicing many of the internal issues in the West-London slums. Set to awaken audiences with an “intention to bring about a new mentally aware consciousness that’s being prohibited in ways unimaginable” Apex Zero explains why Design Chaos isn’t to be slept on in 2014:

 

 

Following the release and success of Apex Zero’s debut solo album ‘Reality Provoking Liberation’ in December 2013, the next release from Design Chaos will be a new mixtape from OMeza Omniscient called “Administer of the Hip-Hop Assembly”, with Apex Zero as the guest speaker. This is scheduled for release early in 2014. There is also more solo work from both OMeza Omniscient and Apex Zero in the pipeline, as well as the work being put into a new First and Last project.

Big Dada

big dadaThe musical expertise that Big Dada has produced for the scene since 1997 is far-reaching and influential to many. Backing grime pioneer Wiley as well as Jammer from the Boy Better Know crew, it’s safe to say that this label isn’t strictly hip-hop. Big Dada is in fact a word-renowned label that focuses on artists with exceptional lyrical potential. The talent within the label is undoubtedly among the most commercially successful throughout the scene, with dozens of artists including (but not limited to) Congo Natty, Tre Mission, Roots Manuva, Speech Develle and Run The Jewels producing music on a mad scale to keep the masses entertained. Still maintaining much of the underground elements that the scene proudly represents, Big Dada is an unquestionably diverse representative for the quality of hip-hop the UK has got to offer.

 

 

Big Dada’s unique and it will always be unique because it’s a philosophy, y’know? It’s unique because it dares to stick its neck out and it’s run by people who genuinely love music. It’s not just a record label, it’s a movement. – Roots Manuva

 

Revorg Records

revorgProudly representing socialist moralities Revorg Records hones the lyrical repertoires of reputed artists Strange Neighbour, Jack Diggs and Big Toast who form collectively as TPS. Also showcasing clever and intricate wordplay from Triple Darkness member Pheonix Da IceFire and Kill The Noize collaborator Efeks their reputation grows for regularly producing on point and dynamic lyrical material, providing distinctly underground sounds and spawning an impressive web of affiliations across the UKHH scene. Strange Neighbour reveals new material set to emerge from the Revorg camp across 2014:

 

 

TPS crew’s new album Hot Water Music will emerge taking its name from Charles Bukow-ski’s collection of short stories. With guest contributions from Dark Circle, Efeks, Phoenix Da Icefire, Res, Datkid & Geebag, Hot Water Music will give you an insight into the lives of crew members, Jack Diggs, The Strange Neighbour & Big Toast. Efeks and Jack Diggs have the E&J EP coming with Jack Diggs on the beats and Efeks on the rhymes sharing part vocals with Jack Diggs. This EP Has features from TPS and Verb T and possibly two other legendary special guests but this will all be revealed in due time. There’s Strange Neighbours & Phoenix Da Icefires Cinematic LP which will be bringing in heavy weight feature artists from Iron Braydz, Genesis Elijah, Fliptrix, Verb T, Cappo, TPS, Copywrite, Skriblah Dangogh, Manage and Kevlaar 7… And the list goes on! Not one to be missed!! Big Toast has his Save The Pub EP, where Toast tells his tales of growing through the pub years! This is still in the making and sounding dangerous! We also we have a LTD vinyl release by Hermit The Slob 8 track white label! Hermit pulled together TPS, Geebag, Oliver Sudden, Al Mighty, Dowta, Joey Menza, Cracker Jon, Datkid and more… This project is so early in the making it could possibly be a 2015 release!

Words By Ethan Everton

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