Herman Bloom: sat in the back with your girl on his lap.
Lucius: laid back on the A3 speeding (‘cos he) gotta take a trip to his girl in the evening.
Dashwuud: traipsing to yard, key between his fingers
Kuba: bare missed calls on his Nokia- but he already flipped it so he ain’t gonna call back.
Mystik: on the right vibration, looking at the sky while waving.
Outlandish snap shots of each member in motion plays out in Tarantino-esque fashion on M3, lead track of the Sakahwa Boys’ latest release ‘Valley of the Frogs’. From throwing events in the heart of Dalston to even hosting their own festival a couple months ago (shhh!), this DIY cohort of long-term hip hop fans put enjoyment at the forefront of everything they do. Between them possessing a diverse skillset and penetrating all manner of UK hip hop niches, ‘Valley of the Frogs’’ release coincides with renewed effort into each members’ solo endeavours and provides a good opportunity to spotlight the collective.
Check out: Couchboi
Secret skill: Guitar whizz with a background in shoegaze (of all things)
In the best way possible, Dashwuud is without a doubt the Mr. Pink of this operation. Or, more aptly, the Pink Panther slinking in the back alleys of ‘Valley of the Frogs’ streetlit instrumentation. Full of emotion and self-admittedly wearing his heart on his sleeve, Dashwuud’s unorthodox melodic delivery finds its own pocket amidst Sakawah’s flow-heavy roster. Releasing separately under the Dashwuud umbrella alongside producers Jonny and Kuba, Dashwuud are already well into their solo cycle and are gearing up towards a full-length project of their own.
Check out: Vogue, or, for a real surprise, catch a glimpse of live ‘Moscow Frank’ project at one of his upcoming shows
Secret skill: Always looks fresh off the runway
The Robert Di Niro to Dashwuud’s Mr. Pink, talking out the corner of his mouth with deadpan delivery; Herman is one of the most polished rappers you’ve probably never heard of. With temple-tapping punchlines (“got a ring to it like tinnitus”) and a style that sits somewhere between Blah Records and Sub Luna City, Herman Bloom oozes cool. All this seems set to change, however, with his upcoming punk-inspired Moscow Frank project, enlisting live instrumentation poised to get a crowd moving without sacrificing on the laid-back swag that sets the side-talking outlaw apart from the other members.
Check out: Work
Secret skill: Does a banging Zack De La Rocha impression, complete with dive-roll-mic-grabs onstage
A hard and fast performer yet meticulous producer, Lucius’ irrepressible energy is hard to resist live. Already seeing some success on the roulette wheel of editorial playlists with his entirely self-produced debut single ‘Work’ earlier this year, Lucius seems the most ‘new era’ of the group. With high-impact trap flows collapsing into synthy melodies, ‘Work’ is somewhat of a rollercoaster and definitely leaves the door open for all sorts of sonic progression.
Check out: Bounce Back
Secret skill: De facto Sakawah sound tech
If Lucius represents where hip hop seems to be going, then Mystik is definitely bringing it back to the old school. Cool as a cucumber with the frequencies to match, Mystik is often seen at the back of stage fiddling with cables during the other members’ performances. Equal parts spiritual guru and musical hedonist, tracks like Bounce Back have an infectious groove that perfectly embody the Mystik identity. Oh, and it was entirely self-produced- but that’s pretty much standard Sakawah procedure by now.
Check out: The inimitable ‘A Jednak’, which segues from a disco opener to tripped-out transient instrumentation. In short, fuckin bonkers.
Secret skill: Can seemingly rhyme anything
With wit and delivery that defies his English-as-a-second-language status, Kuba is a goldmine of hilarious one-liners and at this point I am not quite sure whether they are intentional or not (case in point: “I’m there somewhere looking for roach card, somewhere that looks like a shot on a postcard / Didn’t pay shit for the ticket but what they’re charging at the bar is enormous”). Regardless, Kuba’s eye for instrumental pockets is undeniable- and that’s not to mention his role as producer and mix/masterer for a large chunk of Sakawah’s releases.
And all this is without diving into the groups’ array of satellite talents- comprising videography from Boldr media, guest production from Def Jam Poland signee Miroff (I told you this was an unlikely group of outlaws) and performing alongside fellow underground misfits Madxrai and Your Loss. For me at least, recent experiences attending Sakawah shows felt pretty inspiring. With all the tools to produce, host and deliver performances in and of themselves, there’s an electric synergy between the roster that, while not altogether unfamiliar to the UK hip hop scene, definitely felt special against the background of the last year-and-a-half of lockdowns.
Sakawah Boys’ ‘Valley of the Frogs’ works best as an introduction to the groups wacky creative network and released alongside their performance at Camden’s legendary Fiddlers’ Elbow earlier this week. Catch a show if you can- more than anything, it’s good fun.