London based lofty Ray Vendetta (RV) releases his fifth album ‘Son of Floyd’ on his own independent imprint Prestigious Recordings, a label he started back in 2017. This 15 track colossus is entirely produced by Markie4Eyez (illternal beats) and Mr Synback, it contains an expansive assemblage of sounds and featured artists, an exciting project to say the least. What had initially started as an EP slowly transformed into a full blown album with the assistance of the north London production powerhouse, a combination of well paced craft work with Ray’s punchy no-nonsense delivery made for something highly potent. Recorded throughout the pandemic, this is yet another inspired product of the lockdown of 2020 and a touching tribute to the artist’s Father, featuring skits full of the wise words of Floyd, a fine homage to a cherished patriarch. The album title is inspired by Superman’s lineage (being the son of Jor-EL, which should appease the fandom) and a shared experience of receiving comics between Ray and his father; this is a salute, a consequence of the admiraton held by Ray for Floyd’s legacy. This is only part one of a series of projects referred to as the “Legacy Agenda”, with a part two being produced by Falling Down of Killarmy fame, dropping later this year. RV has impressively worked on over 25 releases since his debutant project in 2010, other notable works include his premier Triple Darkness ‘7 Swords ov Light‘ album which was produced by the late, immortal 7th Dan (RIP). He also cites the ‘Effortless EP‘ as a personal favourite, a project produced by Greater Good, recorded in just a single day with the assistance of Sean D and ‘5000 Kelvin‘ with Irish rapper/producer Mook, written in 8 hours after being inspired by a documentary about the sun, all fascinating stuff. As well as his recorded work, he has also appeared live countless times, with his strongest memory being that of the Triple Darkness ‘Boom Bap Festival’ event in 2014, which involved Iron Braydz (Da Flyy Hooligan) setting off a red flare as they entered the pitch black stage, kicking off the showcase to a mesmerized audience, a highly memorable occasion (were you there? Tweet me your pics).
“My father was and still is a man of stature, morals, strength, life knowledge and wisdom”Ray Vendetta
Ray Vendetta has amassed an assortment of accolades over the past few releases and rightly so, he has displayed a characteristic flair for rap reinvention but did his latest entry make the grade, we had a listen..
The album opens with the skit ‘Words from Floyd’, where his Father recalls early memories of Ray’s musical beginnings, “Believe in what you’re doing, enjoy what you do” and “just make me proud, that’s all I ask, just make me proud”, a nice sentiment dropped over some smooth Roots Reggae. This intro is followed by the first single off the album ‘Blessings for the gifted’ produced by Markie4Eyes, some dark samples blend with a pulsating bass line and rimshot ricochet, fluid flows couple with some Creole language singing on the hook from Java P; “Desgadja mó ku kre, Farmadja mó ku krê, Vivi mó ku krê, Fazi kel ku krê, Dal tambê”, loosely translated as “Survive the way you want, speak the way you want, live your life how you want, do what you want, express yourself”, an interesting addition, it also has a great video directed by Lukography. The titular ‘Son of Floyd’ (another Markie4Eyes prod.) has a lovely rolling break that blends perfectly with Ray’s vocal pattern, some sharp kicks perpetuate with the loop and results in an infectious head nodding number, this is sure to be fan favourite, topped with some sporadic silk cuts by legendary DJ Evil Ed, who provides all of the cuts on the release. Long time collaborator K Zorro (since 1995) joins the roster on some Mr Synback production for ‘Past Pages’, a proverbial walk down the memory lane, a light smattering of piano keys and tight drum sequences knit on this melancholic track where the pair conjur up images of their college days, girls, hanging out in adventure parks, “my boy at Cineworld had us screen hopping everyday”, plus more Evil Ed cuts on this one courtesy of Nice & Smooth.
‘Tetrodotoxin’ is an energetic piece (prod. Mr Synback) featuring lively contributions from Tom Ryan and Airklips, the name is taken from the potent neurotoxin found in the likes of the pufferfish (among other animals), a powerful poisonous compound that inhibits the firing of action potentials in neurons (take from that what you will). The pair feature alongside Ray on this rapid fire bars exhibition, whereby all three artists get gung-ho in their delivery, an explosive testimonial ‘beef’ track demonstrating clever wordplay atop of bluesy samples and vigorous snares. ‘From Great Heights’ (prod. Mr Synback), features a schmaltzy jazz sample, horns and nicely building keys, a light contrasting track compared to the rest of the album with RV speaking in a more sentimental tone about past loves, some really great lyricism here and dare I say it, a potential summer jam (got a real ‘Brooklyn Masala’ vibe on this one).
“on my last pack, wrap it up, one last half/ tried to steal my clientele but i got last laugh/ throwing threes long range, zoots in the green cage/ 2 on 2, round the key, some of us held blades/ creep on a lurk for an erik or face off/ stick you on the curb rev the bimma and race off”Ray Vendetta
‘Golden Kodaks’ (part 2) prod. Markie4Eyes is another solid track, a glockenspiel sample sits on some slick breaks, great bars, proper Hip Hop stuff. The haunting melody of ‘Shadows of the end’ (prod. Markie4Eyes) starts to play while a ‘Meet Joe Black’ quote is layered over a harp sample, it features guest verses from Tesla’s Ghost and Venomspitter, another stand out song with a post-apocalyptic vibe. There are a lot of tracks to unpack here, way too many to mention but they all deliver a powerful punch to the synapse.
This is a tempestuous fifth entry from the seasoned pro, a must have for anyone with a penchant for well calibrated wordplay, set against a soundscape of classic Hip Hop. This is not another boilerplate of dreary urban tales but rather a cerebral experience, where rich content is effortlessly delivered against inventive beat work.
As always these are just my opinions on the release but what about yours, what did you think of this album? Have a listen and Tweet me your thoughts.
Words by Theo Specone