Staking their claim to the title of Leeds premier modern Hip Hop crew with a slew of albums and mixtapes since 2009, Defenders of Style recently released the latest installment their all out, all angles, assault on the UK Hip Hop scene. Teaming up with fellow West Yorkshire crew The Office, the fifteen strong list of MCs is only surpassed by the mighty sixteen strong track list of their collaboration mixtape, a rowdy, stiff jawed release that mixes up front boom bap with dark, swaggering vibers and more electronic monsters. With Dialect, Matta, Lego, D Bizzy, Jack Danz, P Solja, Prys, Optiks, Alamak, Joe Snow, Disgust, J Bravo, Weezy Jeff, Potter, Teknico taking to the microphone, it’s a continuation of the constant growth of the Leeds scene, something that’s been thriving since the WY collective took the reigns with their series of freestyle cyphers, fully coming to out attention with their gritty 2012 album Dirty Stirling.
Despite it’s page turning lyricist list, a heavy focus on skits, vocal samples and intricate production brings a cohesive nature to proceedings, it’s chopping intro setting the battle tone that their style rests on, a style often done but still no less ill to listen to. Opening fully into Childs Play, childish vocal hums are lent a creepy nature by the intro’s piercing scream, mingling with eerie wind chimes as dark, cold flows open up the release. A solid choice for their first words, it proves to be one of our favourite tracks, Lego’s verse in particular merging effortlessly with the beat. Working through the sinister atmosphere of Wars On and the tongue twisting flows of Kill Ya Boss, their upfront, outspoken style continues until Blues Brothers. Another standout, a more mellow beat with background saxophones and a bassy beat steadily plods along underneath a really solid hook and more understated vocals that shows the more casual, and yet still swaggering, side of their style.
More experimental in nature, the playfully rising synths of Extra Muzzles juxtapose it’s classic boom bap break that highlights the variety in production featured throughout, taken on solely by Alamak and Jack Danz. Immediately following that, Indian Trips, provides further evidence of the fact with a piercing eastern melody that slows to almost cartoon proportions to introduce different rappers, something the beats excel at throughout. Where often tracks with many MCs on them can sound cluttered and disorganized, breaks in the beats and overstated phrase edits add a touch of class that brings a much needed element of structure. Enhancing the lazy swagger of those on the mic, gaps in the vocals make them all feel less rushed where otherwise it may come across as eager kids jumping in over each other in the cypher. Occasional more mellow tracks also add to this, the classic sample, liquid flows and sing song hook of Reflections particularly standing out with an unmissable head nodder.
A true piece of UK Hip Hop, the tight nit nature of the two crews is impossible not to notice throughout, their styles meeting well while also providing variety. Some excel on hooks and others on verses, leaving all bases covered over the tidy beats of Alamak and Jack Danz for a release that emits the essence of Hip Hop and, despite it’s often aggy nature, comes across as being made by heads that are having a lot of fun with it. Mixed by DJ Sir Plus and DJ Prolific, their tight cuts and detailed vision bring the final sheen to it, finishing off a piece of music that’s a rock solid representation of the Leeds Hip Hop scene. Go cop it free from their Bandcamp.