Review: Japanese hip-hop group Gagle first put out their Slow But Steady album in 2010, but only on CD. It's since become a mini cult classic that has long been wanted on vinyl, so finally Pony Canyon and HMV Japan have acquiesced. Produced by DJ Mitsu the Beats there are strong jazz elements to sunny instrumentals like "Round N Round" while "Corona & Lime" (feat Bonnie Pink) is a classic era neo soul gem with buttery vocals and romantic beats. "Rapkyounouta" explores a more 80s tinged rap vibe with harsher breaks, and there is also uptempo funk and stoner hip hop across the rest of the four sides of vinyl.
Review: Despite his London roots, rapper and beat-maker Lewis Parker has always excelled at making dusty, sample-heavy tracks that sound like they could have come out of New York in the midst of hip-hop's "golden era". For proof, check this brilliant box set, which gathers together some of his finest moments from the late 1990s and early 2000s on five "45s". There's a mix of killer vocal tunes, accompanying instrumentals and the kind of deep, head-nodding soundscapes that would once have been classed as trip-hop (he did feature prominently on Massive Attack's Melankoly label after all). It's not hyperbole to say that "The 45 Collection" contains some of the most entertaining and well-produced British hip-hop ever made.
Nas (Interlude)/Anna From Woohside (Beat Suite)/Nas (Interlude) (4:33)
Voices Inside My Head (4:16)
Could Heaven Ever Be Like This (4:44)
Festival Song (BAM BAM) (3:53)
Magnificent Dance (feat Rich Medina) (3:57)
Que Se Sepa (feat Jose Parla Y Mireya Ramos) (3:11)
The Mexican (feat Mireya Ramos) (4:32)
I Know You I Live You (feat Maimouna Youssef) (4:27)
Stevie Wonder Interview (Inserlude)/If You Really Love Me/Stevie Wonder Interview (Inserlude) (feat Maimouna Youssef) (5:00)
Baby I'm Scared Of You (4:19)
Review: Some 30 years after rising to prominence via a now legendary NYC radio show, veteran hip-hop DJs Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito Garcia have finally made a debut album. It sees them join forces with specially created nine-piece combo The M19s Band to serve up fresh covers of a range of well-known and obscure "dance floor bangers" (as the accompanying press release puts it). There are some superb interpretations, with the Police's dub disco jam "Voices Inside My Head" becoming a sweet soul-jazz treat, the Clash's "Magnificent Dance" reborn as a Latin jazz number (complete with Rich Medina spoken word vocal) and Womack & Womack's "Baby I'm Scared of You" a seductive, shuffling Afro-Cuban jazz standard. In a word: brilliant.