The South West is well and truly in boss mode right now, releasing top quality hip hop left right and center. Hot off the heels of Smellington Piff’s EP and Brothers of the Stone’s album comes the latest offering from the RLD crew that run that corner of the UK, a twelve track free release by Smellington’s four piece N.L.P clique. Consisting of Sean Peng, Eric the Red, O.A.B and Smellington Piff with Illinformed taking in mastering duties and a large majority of the beats, they bring guttural accents and a gully style to traditional boom bap hip hop beats.
Illinformed’s eerie, atmospheric samples and crunching drums are joined by guest production from RLD head honcho Leaf Dog and Dirty Dike, while O.A.B and Eric the Red also both prove they can hold their own on the boards as well as the mic. Who ever’s taking on MPC duties, the production’s on point throughout and retains a fairly deep, and yet undoubtedly neck snapping, style throughout. From the creepy pianos and background vocals of White Witch of Rose Hall to the more funky melody’ of O.A.B’s Led Astray, the samples are expertly selected throughout and the drums beneath them always come hard whether it’s the stepping break of Heavyweight or the cymbal led sound of Dirty Dike’s Creatures of the Swamp with it’s naturally muddy style and heavy bass guitar.
With four MCs and a massive range of vocal styles, from Eric the Red’s high pitched tones to O.A.B’s deeper, gruff style, there’s plenty of variety in the lyricism and yet it’s tied together by punchy flows and a carefree nature. Led Astray, where Eric the Red and Smellington Piff go back to back over O.A.B’s funky beat with story bars particularly stands out, in part due to how cohesive the vocals and beat are together, with the latter cutting out at key punch lines and becoming slightly quieter during certain periods. The ghoulish imagery of White Witch of Rose Hall is also a particular favourite of mine, kicked off by a really strong guest verse from fellow West Country MC Index who stamps himself on the atmosphere of the track. Immediately after, com64 provides cuts over Illinformed’s jazz piano led beat between Sean Peng and O.A.B’s swaggering verses. The only other feature comes in the form of a Leaf Dog verse that fits into the style of the release and the four MCs around him perfectly for an RLD posse cut over a heavyweight beat that finishes things off with one of the releases strongest tracks.
Underground Hip Hop for dirty street kids, Free Your Mind gives off the ‘give a shit’ attitude common to RLD releases. Despite the classic boom bap nature of the beats, their west country twangs bring an original slant to it all and highlight how we’re in a hip hop scene that’s no longer London centric and unwelcoming to other accents. From the every day troubles of Money’s Gone through the ode to hallucinogenics of Narcotised and the more abstract imagery of Creatures of the Swamp, the topics are varied and with four MCs jumping on and off tracks it never gets stale. They don’t feel the need to all feature on every track which allows the release to tread different styles and flow more naturally then it otherwise would do, coming off as an organic twelve tracks rather than a forced crew offering for twelve intensely listenable tracks. Listen below and grab it for just £3 from Bandcamp.