Diehard fans of independent hip-hop had much to be hyped about when Starch Records first announced the collaboration of label founders Ill Move Sporadic, and rising underground heavyweight soloist Tenchoo, back in 2015. Consisting of Ben 81 and One Boss, IMS have quickly gained a reputation as some of the most promising hip-hop producers the UK has to offer. A reputation earned from a slew of well received releases over recent years, which have undoubtedly helped expose some of the finest emerging MC’s in the UK right now.
In parallel, Tenchoo first made a major name for himself through the UK battle scene, collecting a number of accolades, including a 7-0 run in Don’t Flop, and taking the Jump Off 2011 freestyle championship. However, if you’ve followed the man for more than a minute, it’s pretty clear that music and performing are his driving force, with a steady growing catalogue of features, numerous projects to come, and spotlight shows around the country.
After first appearing together on Bar Crushers, off IMS and Joey Menza’s 2011 collaboration Alpha Coda, and again on 2013’s Drug Corpse LP, expectations were certainly raised to a maximum. So, without raising tension any further, I’ll just confirm that this one is pure fire from get-go. Sixty seconds of album opener ‘Start of an Era‘ is about all it takes to feel the absolute symbiotic perfection of this creative team come together. Tenchoo’s precise, commanding lyricism powerfully rips through the delightfully aggressive swing of IMS’s high intensity intro, only further raising anticipation for what’s to come.
Thankfully, the album then explodes into the previously leaked banger ‘Chess Pieces‘, perfectly matching that anticipation with a suitably chunky bass line, quite possibly set to give you neck ache. Tenchoo jumps on the beat with full force, flawlessly blending his technical lyricism, and seemingly endless list of punch-lines, in to what may be contender for battle track of the year. By the time the tune plays out, one thing is certain; this certainly isn’t going to be a sombre affair.
From there on, the album never drops in its quality, or its intensity. This is a straight-up hard-hitting, foot stomping, party album, and one that feels carefully crafted towards making for an epic live set-list. Similarly to Tenchoo’s previous solo outings, track features have been kept to a purposeful minimum. While Chemo supplies the final mastering, and DJ Versatile contributes cuts on ‘Melee‘, ‘Who’s on the One?‘ supplies the album with its only guest appearance, as Jason Williamson – front man of notorious punk band The Sleaford Mods – drops his own unorthodox verse and hook.
The feature adds a unique, alternative sound to the overall project – with Williamson’s contribution sounding evocative of Blur’s 90’s hit ‘Parklife’ – while never sacrificing it’s undeniably hip-hop essence.
The choice for this lack of album features is simple; it just doesn’t need it. This is an extremely well put together release, and one that lands as some of the strongest material, both Tenchoo and IMS have ever created.
IMS continue to prove their ability to tailor a textbook soundscape, designed to fully enhance the skill of any artist they work with, while Tenchoo’s raw power and presence shines over said soundscape, cementing him amongst the most elite MC’s to ever graduate from the world of battle rap. While some may feel 8 tracks is a little short for an album, I’d argue that those 8 tracks make for one of the strongest, most consistent track lists of 2016 to date. To put it simply, with beats and rhymes harder than Ron Jeremy in his hey-day, Panic Room 9 is a fast-paced, uncompromising celebration of raw hip-hop, and one that shows a great love and dedication from all those involved.
This one’s available digitally, and on limited edition 12″ vinyl, so be sure to check the links below, and also be sure to watch out for Tenchoo’s recent Don’t Flop return against US rap veteran Copywrite, expected to drop in the upcoming weeks through Youtube, and available now on PPV.