Blade released his first record way back in 1989 and since then he has become one of the most influential and consistent UK acts. Many have complained that his subject matter has become samey and that he has not developed his vocal style for a while, but as one of the UK’s Hip Hop elder statesmen Blade deserves more respect than that.
So what if he has repeatedly said that he has had a hard time? It is true, and some people need to open their eyes and recognise what is going on around them, rather than simply accepting things as they are. Blade’s career has had peaks and troughs and although he is known for his dirty sounding production as well as his vocals he has also teamed up with some big producers for some of his most recognised work. Now he has teamed up with Baby J who is currently one of the hottest names on the UK scene who is known for his hard hitting, yet soulful productions and his work with the likes of SkinnyMan, Dead Prez and Yogi. The result is the self released Guerilla Tactics on Blade’s 691 Influential label.
02. Four Walls
03. MCs Just Wanna Rhyme
04. System Of A Damned
05. Beatbox (5th Element)
06. I Found A Reason
07. Army Of Barmy Rappers
08. Street Corner MC (2nd Element)
09. It’s Your Time
10. Don’t Push Them
11. B-Boy (3rd Element)
12. She’s Gone
13. The Massacre Begins
14. Graffitti (4th Element)
16. Round & Round
17. DJ (1st Element)
18. UK Hip Hop
Looking at the cartoon artwork for this LP depicting Blade atop a tower block holding a massive mic and battling off missiles and helicopters King Kong style I was a little bit disappointed. The look of the design which didn’t do it for me had already begun to tinge my feelings for the as yet unheard music.
The sharp Bob James horn fanfare based Mumps opens the 18 track LP and immediately dispels any myths about Blade’s early demise. On this he is preparing to obliterate phoney rappers whose style he claims is broken. Four Walls also features beautiful horns and a more laid back vocal sample which accompanies a heartfelt offering in which Blade laments how the world has changed asks what can be done to improve things. As ever the endurances Blade has been through are testament to his strength of character and this track is somehow really touching.
More standard beat driven Hip Hop is delivered on MCs Just Wanna Rhyme which explains how Hip Hop practitioners just want to get down because they love the art. I Found A Reason is vocally driven and again is a very personal track explaining how having a child can totally change ones perspective.
Army Of Barmy Rappers is a posse cut to be feared. It features the vocal skills of S. Kalibre, Cipher Jewelz, Manage, Respek-Ba and Rukus who rip shit up big time. Another sweet production makes for Hip Hop gold.
It’s Your Time makes use of some synth type guitars, and as such would have been something I should have hated, but Baby J knows what sounds right and the way he has put this together makes it just right. The song is about seizing the moment and going for it. It features vocalist Laurissa on the back up vocals and the chorus. She’s Gone is a bit of a clichéd piano riff backed slow paced track about the harshness of poverty.
Trumpets herald the intro for The Massacre Begins which samples up Al Green nicely and features guest MCs Yogi, Humurak D Gritty and Mystro and with a combination like that the result is bound to be stupendous. B.L.A.D.E. is nice enough, but seems a bit standard, as you would expect this is Blade letting everyone know his pedigree and that he still has the hunger to keep it real.
70’s disco funk is the backing for Round & Round before the LP rounds off with UK Hip Hop, a track dedicated to the genre we love and the artists who have made it what it is to date.
The LP is light on filler and the few skits are all linked together as they try to pay homage to each element of Hip Hop. The whole album has a very varied feel to it ranging from laid back meaningful tracks to all out in your face brutal attack of words and content. Something for everybody!! As the press says the UK’s Rap Laureate is back, and this Guerrilla Tactics LP could be a bonafide classic in the making.