There’s nothing like a good crew record to bring solid weekend vibes to Hip Hop and create a natural, entertaining feel to Hip Hop. Bringing diversity to an albums agenda and allowing each MC to feed off the others, bringing out elements of their style that might not otherwise make themselves known, they’ve long been an essential part of the genre and have always had a knack of bringing out the fun in an artists sound, often juxtaposing deeper, more thoughtful solo records that serve different purposes and occasions. With that said, the pairing of lazy slurring, cheese infused vocalist Benaddict with Brighton’s Concept of Thought crew came as a much welcome development in both of there Hip Hop careers, each spanning a couple of previous releases. Teaming up with producer Cloud 9, who provides ten of the releases’ twenty beats, they form the collective Team Dreebz (seemingly another addition to the multitude of words we have for being herbally intoxicated), releasing their first offering on their boxfresh Yogocop Records imprint.
Despite touching on all sorts of topics, including the darker ones, and talking deep on many an occasion, Concept of Thought’s relaxed nature is a nice match for Benaddicts hazed, joker persona, making for a record that’s infused with images of bedroom studio laughs and lighthearted cyphers as Ben’s presence encourages a more entertaining atmosphere that slightly juxtaposes some of COT’s previous introspective offerings. That being said, everyone sounds perfectly at home, including Frankie Stew and Mad Hatter who come through with guest tracks/verses, on a record that covers a wide breadth of styles.
From the mellow intro track Slow it Down, where Benaddict and Illiterate lazily lace Cloud 9’s smooth melodies and pillow like bassline, the records chilled out, melodic style becomes clear on a tune that sets the sound for similair offerings that follow it such as the stress numbing hook of Illiterate’s The Only Way and a personal favourite, All Positive where Ben and Illiterate once again compliment each other over a Cloud 9’s feedback soaked break and ear grabbing harps. The latter provides a perfect example of one element where the combination really excels: on the hooks. Benaddict’s sky high slurred singing is often found backing up more punchy chorus styles from the other artists for a marriage of sound that really works, although Illiterate proves he can hold that aspect of things down solo as well on the skittering break and mellow pianos of I Had a Dreeb, the records humour particularly coming out here as they experiment with their invented namesake.
A name I’ve yet to mention, for no reason other than the fact that he brings a different element to the record, is the other half of COT; Awfer. First appearing over Fredo’s dramatic piano chords on Word Blurting, he provides a darker, often more abstract, contrast that bubbles under the surface of the record, encouraging the others to explore deeper depths of their subconscious as he sets the tone on tracks such as Vision and the twisting, apocalyptic flows of Fork Tongues. Bringing variety to proceedings, his influence encourages an intensely varied album, something that’s further provided by Frankie Stew and Mad Hatter’s contributions. Frankie’s solo track 12pm once again showcases him doing what he does best, real world inspired truth talk, flowing observations so relatable it sometimes feels like he could have snatched the words of your tongue. Mr Slipz slightly oriental sounding samples and head nodding drum break provide a really original sound that’s a nice break in the album’s flow. Meanwhile, Hatter joins in on a track most definitely for the wax heads; 99p. Alongside Benaddict and Illiterate, he provides an ode to record digging with tales of growing up in Brighton’s many dusty spots, fingers deep in the 99p bins.
A true crew record, the good times had while recording it are immediately obvious and vastly benefit it’s appeal. On top of that though, every MC holds their own over beats that perfectly suit them, not only from Cloud 9 but a variety of otherwise new names to us that shows just how much depth their is to the talent in UK hip hop right now. It’s variety, from beats to topics to lyrical styles, is essential, yet it remains tied together by it’s jazzy licks and mellow atmosphere. Their willingness to include solo tracks and feature plenty of tunes that only include a couple of the artists involved, treating themselves as a collective rather than a crew as such, provides a much more smooth flowing path through the twenty tracks that keeps it fresh throughout. “Yogocop that shit” is the message that permeates through the record, and I’d be advising it myself even if it wasn’t a free release. Listen below then go grab it here.