Here are the ten best hip hop albums to come out of the UK last year as voted for by our writing team...
10. Defenders of Style - Dolce Stil Nuovo
Leeds crew Defenders of Style delivered an impressive debut album with Dolce Stil Nuovo. The crew consists of four MCs and all have a different style to deliver a distinctly Yorkshire sound. The crew work well together on a track and deliver tales of life in West Yorkshire through the vessel of witty lyricism. This album was slept on somewhat and we recommend you check out this project (as well as other projects the crew have put out) as soon as possible.
9. LDZ - Cat Food
LDZ probably have one of the most original styles in UK hip hop, they incorporate elements of many genres into their music and their albums always have a humourous edge to them. Cat Food dropped late last year as a free download and at 22 tracks it's a lengthy release but it's varied enough that you don't lose interest while listening to it. Jam Baxter, Stig of the Dump and Dubbledge all make impressive appearances but the majority of tracks just feature members of the crew. Highlights include Life and Important To Be Niice where Dabbla displays an impressive level of skill.
8. Mcabre Brothers - Gonzo Lyricism
This project apparently almost never saw the light of day but we're glad it made it on to Bandcamp at least. Mcabre Brothers is a collaboration between two members of Children of the Damned, Lee Scott and Monster Under The Bed, two strong lyricists with a high level of ability. The project is an impressive display of each respective MCs skill on the mic and it features some interesting guests. This is probably the last time for a while you'll hear these MCs working together as Monster Under the Bed is busy with his new Piff Gang project. We recommend this album without exception to anyone that is a fan of intricate lyricism.
7. Granville Sessions - No State
Granville Sessions are a live hip hop band hailing from the capital. After forming in the summer of 2008 they have supported many established acts and have built up a solid reputation in their own right as live musicians. The band pride themselves on their live show and deliver a weighty combination of sample based productions and live instrumentation. No State dropped in 2011 and it was their first proper release, it's a strong project and is an interesting listen especially because of the live band element of their sound. Although this is more of a mini album it had to make the list as it's a strong release and an extremely impressive debut. We look forward to hearing more from this lot in 2012.
6. Sonnyjim - The Psychonaut LP
2011 saw Sonnyjim drop an impressive album in the form of The Psychonaut LP. This was a solid project that featured an impressive array of guests including Foreign Beggars, Jehst and Cappo. The production roster for this project was just as impressive: Dag Nabbit, Pete Cannon, Jehst and M-Phazes all made contributions. Sonnyjim's signature rapid delivery and clever wordplay are a consistent feature of this project. The album had to make this list as Sonny once again proved that he is one of the best lyricists in the UK. He has strong abilities as a song writer and this album is testament to his abilities.
5. The Four Owls - Nature's Greatest Mystery
The Four Owls are a new ornithologically-themed UK hip hop super group comprised of four members who have each achieved an impressive amount of recognition from their past projects. The group is comprised of Leaf Dog and BVA of the Three Amigos, High Focus label founder Fliptrix and Verb T (who is undoubtedly one of the most prolific MCs out of the UK). Nature's Greatest Mystery was the crew's first offering and it was well received across the board. The project was produced entirely by Leaf Dog and the fact that the project has one producer makes it a cohesive collection of songs. This was the final High Focus Records project of 2011 (the fact that all three of the projects the label put out in 2011 are in the top five of this list is definite indication of them truly smashing it in the field of UK hip hop last year!).
4. Dirty Dike - Constant Dikestar
Constant Dikestar is Dirty Dike's second solo LP and it's an impressive release. It dropped on the UK hip hop powerhouse that is High Focus Records and it lives up to the quality of output that everyone has come to expect from the aforementioned label. The LP's content is varied and makes for an interesting listen, some songs cover serious subject matter whilst others do quite the opposite, Average Wank Fam being one of these. Dike's ability to switch it up like this means that the album has something for everyone; the album is a good reflection of the uncompromising nature that Dike's music has become renowned for. Couple this with a reputation for energy filled live performances and you can see why Dike has steadily become a household name in the world ofUK hip hop.
3. Cyrus Malachi – Ancient Future
Cyrus Malachi comes from a crew called Triple Darkness who dropped a classic LP entitled Anathema back in 2008. Ancient Future is Cyrus's first solo offering and it's a very impressive piece of work. The album is a heavy listen, many topics are covered and Cyrus delivers his rhymes over a series of (mostly) more atmospheric and downtempo beats. The project features an impressive array of guests from both sides of the Atlantic (Rustee Juxx, Bronze Nazareth and Kyza all make appearances). The album definitely has a classic feel to it and the no-nonsense, almost purist approach to hip hop the album adopts makes for a truly engaging and thought provoking listen.
2. Jehst - The Dragon of an Ordinary Family
Jehst has been active in UK hip hop for a long time, the fact that his latest project is so high up on this list is testament to the consistency in his quality of output over the years. The Dragon of an Ordinary Family delivers that classic Jehst sound and doesn't disappoint in the slightest. The album has the feel of that classic early 2000s UK hip hop sound (which many people consider to be the genre's 'golden era'). A wide variety of topics are tackled on the project but there's still a fair amount of songs that are made up of his signature abstract braggadocio prose that we've all grown to love. The album was launched of the back of a clever viral campaign where Jehst fooled hoards of people into thinking that he had taken up a job as a postman.
1. Leaf Dog - From a Scarecrow's Perspective
Leaf Dog of the 3 Amigos didn't disappoint with his first solo LP, it's a certified classic. The project is engaging throughout and it's a pleasure to listen to the whole album, there are no tracks that you would want to skip through. The album features an impressive variety of guests but at the same time features aren't over done, this ensures that the LP serves well as a reflection of Leaf Dog's abilities as a solo artist. Production is also varied, making for an interesting listen. We hope to hear more from Leaf Dog in 2012.
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