Arguably the most viable crew in the UK hip hop scene to have yet reached the heights they’re due (we’ve been ranting about this for a while), Voodoo Black are not playing with their long awaited debut LP. Collectively Sparkz, Dubbul O, Ellis Meade and DJ Cutterz have been some of the hardest working humans in the game for close to a decade. On top of dope solo efforts from all of them that are well worth checking with spare COVID isolation time, the three spitters have massively contributed to highly regarded and lucrative releases by The Mouse Outfit and have been putting out music under the guise of Voodoo Black since their first self titled EP back in 2013.
If you were to try and differentiate the sound of Voodoo Black versus Mouse Outfit up to this new decade, to massively oversimplify; you could say that efforts with the mouse mob were more funk, jazz and soul influenced and Voodoo Black have been more concerned with crafting hard tunes for hip hop purists. Sitting At The Table sees the lines blur to a middle ground that’s sublime.
Everything that has made the collective dope since day is alive and well on Sitting At The Table. There’s a new edge to SATT though. Cutterz and crew steer the production more in the direction of the kind of funky, mellow melodies underpinning rhythmic grooves that catapulted tracks featuring the VB roster to a wide following in collaboration with the Mouse Outfit. All while still staying true to the Voodoo sound. Manchester’s unique hip hop influence is in full effect alongside stylistic nods to US golden era sounds. Flows from all 3 MCs throughout are flawlessly on point. Both warm and hard hitting, what’s most striking about verses from all 3 is the fact that there is literally no weak link. For 3 artists with their own unique sounds, the level of stylistic cohesion that maintains a distinctive soundscape on all tracks is something that can only be built though a creative partnership and friendship over years. Flows blur into one another on every track in a way that’s barely noticeable.
Singles ‘Know Broke’ and ‘Fizzy’ are exemplary of the kind of consistent sickness found permeating through tracks 1 to 10. ‘Fizzy’ sounds like an after hours lock in at a jazz club. ‘Know Broke’ edges in with similar dulcet musical stylings, followed by hook from Sparkz phasing in seamlessly to a trap-esque drum line that instantly converts the track to a certified head-nodder peppered with effortlessly complex rhyme schemes on every bar.
The calibre of the sparing features on the project is telling in regards to the standing in the scene that the crew deserves. The group’s Manchester home ground is represented in style with soul-hop queen LayFullStop‘s appearance on the super smooth ‘In The Mood’ and under-hyped mistress of melody EVABEE on ‘My Medicine’. As the LP has lyrical talent in abundance from the crew, its not surprising that its not heavy on the guest spots. The two remaining spaces go to UK heavyweights Leaf Dog and Jehst. Banger ‘Abracadamting’ features the ever-returning drifter bringing his A game. Likewise Boom Bap anthem ‘Fall Back’ has Leaf coming equally hard on the first verse. The fact that both MCs drop Voodoo Black tributes in their bars is testament to the fact that whether or not VB have still to reach legend status among parts of the hip hop fanbase, they already hold that accolade among the scene’s leading names.
Formerly members of the Room2 family, Voodoo Black have transitioned to Village Live for this project. As cross pollination to different demographics can be advantageous for acts trying to get their name out to new heads and the Village have their own dedicated following (and exclusively release fire), this could prove to be a smart move. DJs: Cop this shit on vinyl for guaranteed smooth party grooves. Everyone else: Cop the format of your preference HERE.