Oxfordshire based ‘AiKz‘ (pronounced ‘aches’, not ‘ikes’) teams up with producer counterpart ‘Third Degree’ (Sophisticated Apes, Reggiimental) for debut collaborative release ‘Antisocial‘; a title he attributes to being socially awkward and withdrawn from ‘social norms’, as well as representing the ‘aggy’ soundbed produced in this particular outing. This independent album comes after a six year hiatus following the solo AiKz release of ‘The Life and Times‘, the former comprising of a 13 track collection which is described as being ‘their best work to date’ and is fresh off the presses only a short while after their supporting performance to The Blastmaster KRS-One at the O2 Academy 2 Oxford. Kudos earned to the Oxford veteran for such a notable performance (despite the introversion), however does his recorded works cut the mustard as much as his live appearance? We turned it up real loud (for the neighbours) and had a listen..
The album opens with hyped intro ‘Ox Stand Up’, setting the mood for the bombastic feature presentation whilst addressing a local audience. ‘Shut it Down’ has some great Hip Hop fanfare, nice sharp kicks, a great hook and fluid bars, it is nicley paced and higly energetic. ‘Who’s He’ is the first of many tracks that feature incredible cut work from JabbaThaKut, a staple on the scene and a reliable scratch resource that pops up for a couple of entries and doesn’t disappoint. ‘Animal’ has a nice synthy sample that sits solidly behind great soliloquy, nice vibes on this one with a Mike Tyson sample. ‘I Still Dedicate’ uses an interesting flip of the Johnny Cash sample cover of Nine Inch Nails ‘Hurt’, nice strings and snares, a haunting rendition that still gives the chills. ‘Infinite Jest’ pays tribute to the future world conjured by David Foster Wallace and explores the essential question of ‘what is entertainment?’, Jabba slices this track to ribbons, slick vivid imagery with thought provoking prose. The only featured artists on the album come in the form of soulstress Teresa Meads and Tom Stiles on ‘Eye of the Storm’, the sound of rain and Spanish guitar coalesce atop gentle drums, a tonally different song compared to the rest of the track listing but a welcome addtion, interesting stuff.
“I first saw AiKz in Oxford as a support act for KRS-One, I was so impressed with his music, I personally decided to help him and Third Degree get noticed by passing around the ‘AntiSocial’ project to DJ’s, journalists and podcasters”– Numbers aka DJ279
This is a raw and lively affair featuring fiercely delivered fodder, scattered with reflective moments and brilliant beatwork. There are classic hip hop samples laced throughout the core of this project, as well as effortlessly delivered inventive bars tightly wrapped around concepts and cuts. These guys are definitley ones to watch in 2023, so bare witness to the carefully selected hardware from their wheel house,
As always, these are just my opinons but what did you think of the album? Tweet me your thoughts and recommendations.
Words by Theo Specone
More info: facebook.com/aikzonline