What comes to mind when you think of English music? I go straight to the 90’s with Oasis, Blur and Gorillaz. Some though may think of Morrissey. Others may think more recently of those who have defined modern British music – Ed Sheeran, Rizzle Kicks. Whatever you think of, there is a helping of all of these iconic Brits on Punk-Rap act Mid Reflections’ debut EP Outcasts.
There are two things which shine through the 4-track EP. One is what made their compatriots so distinctive and it’s their embrace of their regional identity. In this case their London tone and attitude is a great departure from the American camouflage that we have become so normalised by.
The other is the range of influences here, as implied. It gives strong impressions of Ed Sheeran’s You Need Me I don’t Need You in parts due to vibrant and intricate guitar parts tied to frequent lashing lyrical exchanges. At other times, the more downtrodden parts resonate more towards a Gorillaz-edge. If the production value on this EP (which is more or less spot-on) was dialled up a few notches, there could be some comparison between Hollywood Undead.
Opening title-track Outcast is straight to the point and straight into the chorus. Like the whole of the release, you find Mid Reflections accessing serious topics by using flippant lines: “Wasn’t easy as an outcast | Didn’t want to show my face like I’m Kenny from South Park”. It means you don’t take them that seriously so it’s easier to engage with these themes. It forecasts a general song make-up of dynamically pin-point breathless rapping showing off the astounding lung capacity of Rapper Matthew Bishop, aka 2T’z. This is enforced with basic but watertight drum rhythms, moving well into chanty choruses and an array of clean and distorted guitar parts.
Elsewhere, they seem to take a swipe at The Government amongst other things on Illusions with a cockier, upbeat vibe. Bishop is at his razor sharpest on Legalise It one that fuses quite an old-school riff with a shouty chorus. No second guesses what this one is about, he leaves you in his dust but you do struggle to really catch all of what he says. Foes is the calmest of the lot and my personal favourite. The binding guitar just works with Bishop’s rap style here. The melody ducks and dives patiently, allowing Bishop to push himself technically but it’s not over the top. It drops off nicely into a borderline spoken chorus, but spoiled by a bit of a sore-thumb mid-section – that said, it’s a solid closing touch overall.
A bare-knuckled and bare-faced approach to lyric-writing and song-writing works well with it’s overall charm and audacity. We’ve seen how rap can be fused with different alternative styles over the years, this offering by Mid Reflections is a refreshing one and despite (or because of) it’s eclecticism, doesn’t smack of imitation. It’s a promising EP, one that could also be viewed as novelty though. It is a rough diamond, so there is a bit of polishing to do – particularly on the often sloppy song outros – to take it to the next level that said: [7/10]
From the day Wu-Tang: The Saga Continues was announced many made jokes about its existence being in retaliation to Martin Shkreli obtaining the only copy of Once Upon A Time In Shaolin. This new album from Wu-Tang Clan is as RZA states a ‘masterpiece’ with it featuring many members of the group alongside features from other artists. The production on this record has been tackled by longtime Wu-Tang associate Mathematics, but without furtherado let’s breakdown Wu-Tang: The Saga Continues.
Opening up this record is is a short skit which features RZA. Wu-Tang: The Saga Continues Intro is a simple opening which features this short clip from what appears to be a classic Kung Fu movie, before this fade in which allows RZA to just introduce the album alongside a note to the fact that it’s the ’21st Century and we still gotta duck the fucking coppers’.
Moving swiftly on from this track is Lesson Learn’d which features Wu-Tang’s Inspectah Deck and Method Man’s longtime collaborator Redman. This track is the first look at what is to come on the rest of this record and as an opening track Lesson Learn’d powers through with this driving beat which mixes in well with both Inspectah Deck and Redman’s delivery. Mathematics’ production on this track is second to none with the mix on the beat being well crafted, allowing the key parts of the instrumentation to come to the front when it is needed but maintaining this blasting beat which sets the tracks pace. As this track closes out Mathematics get his own callout which talks about his history with the group.
Following on from this is Fast and Furious. The second track on this record is again a great cut which shows Raekwon alongside Hue Hef in a strong cut which is both fast and furious, the beat which allows this track to travel is accompanied by this simple set of single note piano strikes which add to the overall feeling of the track as the instrumentation that exists within the beat give it this oldschool Wu vibe. Following on from this track is one of the many skits that runs throughout the record. Famous Fighters, Berto and The Fiend, Family and Saga split up the album as they talk about the importance of the black family and the man’s role within them. However, with them not really connecting to the main tracks they do feel out of place.
The next two full tracks If Time Is Money and Frozen continue on this strength in terms of lyrical and vocal delivery. Method Man makes his first two album appearances in these tracks and comes in strong with verses. However, the latter of the two tracks here is, unfortunately, the weakest cut off of this record, although the track is still strong in terms of lyrical content the overall makeup of the track feels lack luster in comparison to anything else that is on this album.
Pearl Harbor is the first taste this record gives us of Ghostface Killah and is one of the strongest cuts that is on this album. The production from Mathematics alongside the dark story that the track proceeds to tell makes it possibly one of the most memorable tracks on this album. However, even with the stacked line up the track there are certain performances on this track that stand out. Pearl Harbor’s insturmentation is something special, the simple and driving beat is mixed in well with the horns and other instruments that sit in the songs makeup. Overall this track brings along not only some of the best performances on this new album so far but also shows how well they construct their lyrics.
People Say was the albums lead single and it was clear to see why as the track truly shows just how strong the entirety of Wu-Tang are together and with Masta Killah even dropping by for a verse this song is yet another clear strength that this album has. This song is possibly the closest this record comes to displaying classic Wu-Tang in it’s full glory the overall sound that is produced on this track is almost flawless and really showcases the ability that this group has and had.
The following three tracks leave little to say bar the acknowledgment that there is some strength in the vocal delivery and lyrical content that exists on the tracks. However, Why Why Why does bring in a far more serious topic with the ideas of police brutality that has become an epidemic in the US. G’d Up adds in these few brief moments of autotune which feel really out of place in a Wu-Tang record and really doesn’t add anything to the track.
The final full-length tracks on this record are Hood Go Bang! and My Only One. The former of the two see Method Man and Redman join forces for the track which is far too short and despite a catchy set of words for the ‘chorus’ and an extremely strong verse from Method Man, the trackreally lacks more content which would transform the track and make it strgoner as a whole. The latter of these tracks a great cut which is another highlight that exists on this album, with the slight more pop-centric makeup, which lets the song down to an extent because of the chorus, the track feels different to most of the songs on this album. However, the verses and instrumentation on this song are still strong and allow Ghostface Killah and RZA to showcase their ability once again whilst also allowing Cappadonna to come in with energetic verse whilst having this classic Wu-Tang drum beat exist underneath the track.
Rounding off this album is Message and The Saga Continues Outro. The former of which talks about the notion of being a black man and being a mentor to younger people, this track is one of the most verbose skits on the record and although packing a poignant message feels a little out of place, almost jammed in to the record when another track of the same length could have been put in its places. The second track here is another small moment for RZA to take center stage as he closes off the record with this short half verse which almost appears as an offcut from the album which from the words would be an interesting full track. However, these two tracks combined do bring this record to a concise close even if it feels a little lack luster in comparison to My Only One which sits just before these two cuts.
Overall this album is a great listen, track to track there is something for every Wu-Tang fan, the delivery of the original members and to the same extent, the features that come from those who are close to the group are in top form. However, it is noticeable throughout this album that it feels far more like a collection of solo-Wu cuts which have been slammed together and wrapped up as a new Wu-Tang album. Despite the many strong verses that run throughout this record from Ghostface Killah, RZA etc. the group seem to still be following their iconic sound which they have cultivated for years, however now it feels to be getting a little stale. Yet, Wu-Tang: The Saga Continues still is an album worth checking, out as the production of Mathematics is second to none and truly adds to the overall punch that this album packs, this co-insided with the great performances still makes this an essential listen for any Wu-Tang fan or rap fan alike before the year is out. [7/10]
Following the release of her latest album ‘Every Where Is Some Where‘, alt-pop/hip-hop artist K.Flay is back with the official new video for her current single ‘High Enough’, as well as two sold-out UK shows at the Camden Assembly at the end of June. You can check out the new video below!
If you’re not a fan of the last Linkin Park song that they released, they have unveiled another new track from their upcoming album ‘One More Light‘ that you might enjoy and be hyping for the album’s May 19th release.
Check out ‘Good Goodbye‘ which features Stormzy and Pusha T below!
There’s been a massive announcement regarding bands for Reading & Leeds festival this year. As well as Emimen being now added as a headliner for this years festival, many other artists of varying genres have been added to the list, including You Me At Six, Moose Blood, Billy Talent and more!
You can view all the new additions below as well as listen to one we’re excited for.
Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes
Katy B (DJ Set)
Noisia ‘Outer Edges’
The Pretty Reckless
You Me At Six
Young T & Bugsey