Introducing the first of UKHH.com’s Monster Lists… By the term ‘Monster List’ we mean a playlist that we’re just going to continue to add to until it becomes a track-heavy behemoth that you couldn’t possibly listen to in one go unless you’re really into methamphetamine. Or drink a huge amount of a certain name-brand energy drink that only comes in pint cans.
This particular playlist aberration is focused specifically on producers. The less frequently celebrated, shy half of hip hop collaboration. Often found in dimly lit, smoke filled rooms at 2am trying to convey the importance of digging for unique samples or the intricacies of mastering to bewildered lyricists… The producer deserves their shine. In our humble way we’re going to give it to them.
Specifically… We’re building a playlist aimed at hip hop MCs who want a reliable source of hard beats they can go to when they’re in writing mode or need to get a late-night cypher cracking.
More specifically… We’re going to build it out of instrumental albums that you could just let play from start to finish in their entirety.
Even more specifically… A playlist of entire albums that are certified dope, that you could play in order or shuffle to your hearts content without stumbling across anything that was shit.
Click through on the player below to add/listen to the list in full. Read on for the lowdown of why we chose these first 5 albums.
DISCLAIMER: The point of this first list and subsequent Cypher Food posts is to be …
– Something that draws attention to legends and lesser know producers in equal measure.*
*Yes there are some giants of the scene not included in this first list. We’ll get to them later.
So without further fuckery…
Lewis Parker – Sniper Beats
If you don’t know who Lewis Parker is, do you even hip hop? A pillar of the UK hip hop scene at its first height in the late nineties and early noughties, the lyricist and producer is officially royalty amongst heads. Furthermore, he’s a member of a limited alumni from that generation that didn’t fall off in his output for the following two decades. As both a rapper and producer he’s a rare example of an artist who’s successfully forged cross-Atlantic alliances (including Planet Asia and Vast Aire) and maintained local underground legend status. There are dozens of Lewis Parker instrumentals on spotify that are a perfect canvas to splatter your rhyme paint all over. Sniper Beats however, is the only one that’s a dedicated instrumental project. Also, it’s as cinematic as watching Sin City in Humphrey Bogart’s home cinema and has undoubtedly been the fuel for countless 16s from top tier MCs. At the time of writing there are also still a few copies available on vinyl HERE.
Kuartz – Quicker Than Grenade Casing
Honestly, there was some ridiculous back and forth in coming to the decision of which Kuartz beat tape to feature here. There are a bunch of instrumental LPs by the guy that contain some essential beats for cypher playlisting. The Manchester Boom Bap shinobi is still somehow not quite as prominent as some of the UK hip hop scene’s highest profile producers, but his output has kept things consistently sublime for a long time (2017’s Shurikens was a close second to make this list). Most recently he’s the producer behind the supremely dope debut release from Pique Roscoe on Village Live. Final selection, Quicker Than Grenade Casing, takes things back a few steps and is an LP that mashes the Lo-Fi and the gully into something simultaneously musical and gritty. Combining into timeless Boom Bap that any MC raised on hip hop would be proud to lace.
Zatoichi’s Ears – Beats For My Clan To Freestyle Over
The Gold On The Mixer label is still something of an enigma within the UK hip hop sphere. If High Focus are the vodka Red Bull of the scene, the GOTM fam are an espresso martini where the starch that the vodka was distilled from was extracted from a highly prized goat on a remote mountain pass somewhere in Nepal. Obscure globe-trotting references (see Global Gazetteer and BRAZiLL) and religious iconography (see Seraphim & Apollyon) aside, you can’t deny that the crew are weirdly smashing it. UKHH.com has been shouting about the fact that they’re dope for time but a lot of people still don’t seem to know they exist. Which sounds like a level of obscurity that would be problematic for most labels. But they sell out every time they press vinyl. You can only really chalk that up to those that do know holding them in very high regard.
Staying true to our streak of spreading the good word, they’ve made the list. GOTM linchpin Zatoichi’s Ears (who has gone by other names on other projects) has 2 instrumental projects on Spotify under the ZE moniker. While the previously mentioned BRAZiLL is a latin-infused joy to listen to, the more appropriately titled Beats For My Clan To Freestyle Over has made the cut.
Reklews – Rekstrumentals Vol.1
To be honest, you could seriously just search Reklews and make your own 5 hour long Cypher Food playlist just off this dude’s beats. The frequent Lee Scott/Blah Records co-conspirator has material out the wazoo. A regular ‘well-let’s’just-put-on-his-beats’ producer amongst the UKHH.com extended family and legit beat-sorcerer, Reklews has got beats for days. A quick search on Spotify will reveal Rekstrumentals volumes one through five and Rap Type Beats volumes one through three. It’s possible we chose Rekstrumentals Vol.1 out of Nostalgia and being day one Rek-Heads. Equally possible that filtering through all of his work and then trying to decide the winner seemed long. It is fucking excellent though, so probably doesn’t matter.
DIRTYTHREE – Street Sketches
Admittedly, for a UK hip hop listing this is a little bit of a stretch. DIRTYTHREE hails from Russia. However, as this release dropped on Village Live (and therefore has probably been copped and rhymed over by substantially more hip hop heads in the UK than the producer’s motherland), let’s just count it as a UK hip hop release. More importantly its sick. It’s really sick. Jazzy, dreamy Boom Bap that counters the mellow melodics with a driven, crisp kick and snare throughout. Perfect for freestyles or considered stanzas.
For more expertly curated UK hip hop playlisting follow our regular monthly(ish) playlist of the best in new UK hip hop IYDK: The UK Hip Hop List!