Going back to Kool Herc’s Bloc Parties, many things have remained the same when it comes to DJs. Their new scratches and breaks mixes create new breaker moves, inspire new graff designs and provide a foundation for new styles of spitting. But, when we reach the end of the weak ones, the thing that really makes the DJ the king pin is that he’s often the coolest cat in the joint.
Every track Phonics has ever sprinkled his magic over is just layered in this smooth, bluesy, attractive supremacy. Half Past Calm is just that. Not too laid back to be lazy. But not too harsh to be tiring. It’s old school, yet it’s original. It’s dark and deep, but in a homely assuring way. “He doesn’t even eat food he just dropkicks the fridge and absorbs the nutrients”. Jon Phonics is the human equivalent of a smooth chrome TVR. Effortlessly charming and a pleasure for any MC to ride. (Please try keep within the metaphor on that one).
Complete with one of my top British MCs of the moment – the analytically brilliant Cyrus Malachi, every MC here has a suave of his own. M9 & Prophet are practically pristine on State Of Hip Hop; a track which chime bells through the title in a water fresh flow. T-Bear brings his own classically mischievous style, especially evident on Celebrate which has a b-ball court, summer sun kind of feel.
Sir Smurf Lil’ and Raggo Zulu Rebel glide slickly through the smooth beats on Remember, a moreish reminiscing of back in the day. The fantastic Mr Drastick and composed Luc Skyz are completely in tune with the melodies and the purity Phonics provides them with on Nothing Wrong. Phoenix Da Icefire and Iverse are seductively persuasive. While Verb T, Fliptrix and Nine Planets bring their own integral layers to the show.
At times, many of the MCs can seem slightly immature, almost playgroundingly tedious on their intros and outros, although the bulk of their work is sturdy enough to carry them up. However, these annoying tidbits make the integrity and genuine coolness of the disc waver slightly. Perhaps this is to take away from the darker side of what they’re spitting. To make it a lighter, more digestible listen. But all it seems to do is detract slightly from any purpose or propriety with that purpose. So if you ask me, it wouldn’t hurt to remove a few of them and keep with the unbeatable sheen the production otherwise provides.
No doubt a few of the tunes on this record will be familiar, they’ve been favourites among artists and listeners alike for a fair while and Half Past Calm is an essential possession for every hip hop head. Jon Phonics is entirely silver-tongued, gold flowing and platinum quality. There’s always room for development, and as the intellect ripens, so will the support.
01. State Of Hip Hop – M9 & Prophet
02. Remember – T-Bear, Sir Smurf Lil’ & Raggo Zulu Rebel
03. Nothing Wrong – Mr Drastick & Luc Skyz
04. The Lions Den – Cyrus Malachi
05. Black Tragedy (Half Past Calm Mix) – Phoenix Da Icefire, Iverse & Prophet
06. More Forward (Ill Rhythmikz Remix) – T-Bear
07. Alternate Take – Verb T & Fliptrix
08. Lost Planet – M9
09. In The Ends – Sir Smurf LIl’
10. Forbidden Chamber – Nine Planets
11. Jealousy’s A Bitch – Mr Drastick & Verb T
12. Celebrate – T-Bear
13. More Forward – T-Bear