%image_alt%Associated Minds seem to pull out all the stops for Mudmowth releases. His Circus In The Cemetary set from a couple of years ago came out on particularly stylish white vinyl. This joint ‘mini-LP’ with Metabeats comes in an equally posh embossed digipack. I’m always one of the first to moan when a project that you have to pay for is only released digitally, and I guess this is one way to try and counter that trend. If artists and labels put as much thought into the product as they do the music itself, then they can create something that may persuade people to go for the physical rather than the digital product. Props to AM for leading the way.

But, none of this would matter if the tunes were wack, so how do the 8 tracks onboard here shape up? Mudmowth has clearly come a long way as an MC. I first heard him on Ghost’s Seldom Seen Often Heard album, where his featured track was (an admittedly dope) self parody of a Welshman making hip-hop. Whilst this track clearly demonstrated the man’s talent, it’s almost gimmicky nature didn’t necessarily suggest that a great career was in store. These days however, Mudmowth is nothing if not versatile. The lyrical tone shifts dramatically from track to track, through introspective self-criticism to inspirational stories to dark streams of punchlines. The quality of the rhymes holds up throughout, although the cohesiveness of the project does suffer a touch, as you may not always be inclined to play it through from start to finish.

The quality of the production here shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who heard Metabeats’ heavily slept on Metaphysical album from 2008. No beat here misses the mark, whether it’s the heavyweight neck-snapper of ‘Maaad Tight’, the RZA-like wails on ‘Sledgehammer’ or the horns on the intro. Things are also kept interesting with a smattering of live instrumentation, mainly provided by P.L.O. The guitar on Sing Tears being a particular highlight.

Picking out highlights here is really just down to personal taste, due to the consistent quality. For me, Sing Tears, Concrete Buttercups & Life’s Never Enough are all vying to be the best track on here, as these are the ones where the songwriting really stands out. Sing Tears is a particularly personal effort, with Mudmowth breaking down his relationship with his father amongst other subjects. An infectious hook is provided by Richie Hayes, and when all this is coupled with Metabeats’ plodding keys, the result is a captivating track. Concrete Buttercups is an excellent way for the project to finish. The laidback, soulful, sax laced production allows Mud to put forward a more optimistic view of the world than is on display elsewhere on the album, verse 3 probably being the best:

“There’s too many people in this world who are simply existing,
You need to break out of your bubble and really start living.
Because nowadays the only people smiling are the children,
Because when you hit your teens, all that stress starts building.
The British mindstate: wake early, work late.
Man, we’re slaves to the wage until we reach our graves.
I know you’ve all got to keep a little food on your plate,
But some of you people live to work, and it should be the other way.”

So what missteps are there? The use of a tongue-in-cheek autotune chorus on Ghost doesn’t really work. Satirically using autotune is starting to become a cliché in itself, and the fact that this track’s own hook begins to grate after repeated listening ironically emphasises the point it was trying to make in the first place. Mud also has a tendency to slip the odd unnecessarily crass line in here and there, such as claiming on Maaad Tight that he is “fisting Rihanna with her umbrella”. But when you have to pick on individual lines, rather than whole verses or tracks, the artist must be doing something right. In the liner notes, Mudmowth says that “it’s gotta be an album next time”. Damn right, as there is no doubt that as an Mud has the songwriting ability and versatility to hold down a full length project, and that Metabeats status as one of the most slept on beatsmiths in the country will be in danger if he keeps producing Sledgehammers like this.

Originally posted on www.certifiedbanger.co.uk


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