The Pembrokeshire based producer/rapper Qred has released a multitude of records since the late 90’s, but 2014 may have witnessed his finest collaborative work to date. Released in February, Old Time Tradition as an album demonstrates not only Qred’s productive expertise across 16 intimate instrumentals but also displays divine lyrical skill from wide across the underground hip-hop scene both nationwide and stateside, featuring Wu-Tang syndicate Solomon Childs, MidaZ The Beast, Sonnyjim, Tony Broke and Lee Scott amongst 24 other rappers including Qred himself. In short the album is full-bodied in untapped lyrical flavour, complete with productions which excel in originality.
Old Time Tradition delivers dark, atmospheric instrumentals that those familiar with Qred are accustomed to, beginning with what Jace Abstract calls a “Mindfuck”. Jace immediately delivers a terrifying lyrical introduction over nightmarish production which could easily derive straight out of a horror flick. Hostiles continues the unnerving trait, seeing scottish lyricist Louie collaborate shady verses alongside Solomon Childs who gives a vivid portrayal of New York living over dark synths. Reality follows with an initially sentimental beat with soft singing vocals before Shogun Assasson and MidaZ The Beast reflect on their illicit lifestyles, accepting of their realities and display smooth, natural flows between them to correlate well with the instrumental.
Qred has claimed that Hunger was intended only to be an instrumental, but once combining bars from CF, Dontique & Wyme the track serves as an excellent hybrid between rock and rap. Following comes Freeze which blends Qred’s drum n bass capabilities with an all out lyrical destruction, bringing Rob Really and Solomon Childs together with Blah Records’ Tony Broke and Lee Scott who each participate with ferocity. Nothing Gained is the first demonstration of Qred’s abilities as a lyricist. He broodingly reflects on life, and spits his life’s antagonisms over a raw instrumental with an experienced flow. Another cypher commences in Say What featuring Rook Da Rukus, MidaZ The Beast, Sonnyjim and Joe Blow who participate short, versatile verses with a combined lyrical expertise between them before DJ Madhandz completes the track cuts to finish.
The record takes rest from the relentless rhymes with the interluding I Knew From The Start, an eery instrumental. Corvo follows, featuring Ide, Alocard and Jise who rhyme verses which illustrates their personally explicit perspectives, skillfully differentiating their flows. MidaZ The Beast returns for Nat Cole to expel doubters once again in a coldly conducted bout of bars. Piece Of Mind showcases the abilities of Mistafire before another haunting track, Ghosts On The Landing. Together the trio Qred, Ral Duke and Joe Dirt portray an excellent chemistry between rappers and producer, the disturbing bars and edgy instrumental correlate notably with one another.
Qred assures that no-one will misinterpret his productive & lyrical capabilities in the album’s captivating climax, When The Smoke Clears. He excels in a truly moving lyrical self-produced rendition. ‘Old Time Tradition’ is clinical for not only portraying Qred’s undoubted skill, but for demonstrating and representing the incredible prowess of lyrical quality across underground hip-hop. An album which cannot be slept on.
Review by Ethan Everton