With lyricism so descriptive and emotive, visceral to the point of being almost unnerving as it’s meaning hangs just at the edge of your conscious and flicks through the gloom in the corner of your eye, it’s no wonder High Focus MC Jam Baxter has a list of crews, collaborations and features longer than a set of Roll Deep album credits. Never afraid to take on a project towards the the edge of his comfort zone and test our expectations of his style, his latest collaborator comes in the form of someone who’s played his career by similair rules. Once a name synonymous with Uk Hip Hop where his 2008-2010 Half Past Calm series remains legendary, Jon Phonics has since twisted his talents to even greater extents, delving into the world of electronic music while retaining his dusty hip hop aesthetic. You may remember us posting the modern soul of sultry Domino Effect EP alongside Tabanca (here), but other exploits have seen him recently debut on the Boiler Room and launch his own Astral Black Records.
Now merging as one for the four track Fresh Flesh EP on High Focus, Phonics’ takes the glitching drums and future funk he’s gained on his travels back to the Hip Hop realm, contorting the two into dramatic, creeping soundscapes for Baxter’s increasingly dark wordplay, something that seems to grow even more slurring attitude and narcissistic swagger with every release. Intriguingly cryptic, his hedonistic excess is more sinister then ever as it extends to cannibalistic metaphors and visions of dripping blood, their undeniably psychedelic nature further revealed in Rush, a particular standout where just how much he’s perfected his style of delivery is instantly apparent among effortlessly complex rhyme patterns and a hook that’s itchingly hard to shake off the brain.
A masterfully natural merging of sounds and styles, the willingness to stray from more traditional Hip Hop beats that Baxter showed on his Dead Players project (with Dabbla and Ghosttown) combines with the more hypnotic, spacious ones his solo material has been leaning towards to great effect. The painter of that scene, Jon Phonics’ production perfectly captures the lyricism’s atmosphere, the eerily dramatic vocal hums of Fresh Flesh and wave like, staggering synths of Eating adding mesmerizing night time visions underneath Baxter’s own conjured world. Also lending a final touch of class and narrative with the funk soaked intro beat and signature film vocal samples, the final sign off perfectly summarizes Baxter’s wordplay; confident and swaggering yet with the tinge of tongue in cheek self hatred worthy of a bank holiday hangover. In similar fashion throughout, two of the most effortlessly talented to float in, out and around the Uk Hip Hop scene in the past half decade expertly catch each others drift for an unmissably original release. Grab it for just £2.49 from Itunes here.
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