Raxstar – “Dream Warriors”

Burban, Hip Hop, Rap, Rock, UK Asian

Score: 5.9

We’re usually a touch cautious when expressing our first impressions about any Raxstar single, simply because they frequently turn out to be growers. However, the somewhat lukewarm reception to “Dream Warriors” says a lot: it’s not another track aimed at his immense female target market (therefore don’t expect it to spread like wildfire); it’s the first official single from his album “Faith & Patience” (does that mean “Jaaneman” isn’t on there, or it’s just a bonus?); it’s quite an alienating mix of influences, coupled with verses from Raxstar that are anything but. This is a very strange choice to lead with. As we’ve alluded to, the Luton MC spits some truly superb verses here, with quotables aplenty, but the beat (and sequencing) leave a lot to be desired. Musically, it sounds a fair bit like “Break This Game” by Swami Baracus (not just because it’s “rocky” – even the chords strike a resemblance), yet the lacklustre chorus just doesn’t seem to fit at all. The stuttering sample works well, but as a whole, Sunit has simply overcooked the instrumental. As a result, the vocals don’t mesh, and there isn’t the unified feel necessary to make this kind of track work as a single (even a build up one, at that). Making music isn’t easy, and Raxstar’s progression as an MC is exciting – but rule number one in hip hop: “You’re only as good as your beats.” (Reviewed by Rahul)

Advertisements

Urvah Khan – “War Drum”

Dance, Rap, Rock, USA

SCORE: 7.4

Urvah Khan makes quite a splash in her new video (and that’s not limited to her frolicking about in the ocean). “War Drum” bashes you over the head with relentless catchphrases, vocal switches, musical shifts and attitude in abundance. Where to start? Well, Khan herself is the human representation of a hurtling fireball, all in the form of tattooed/pierced warrior goddess: her insane hair, ripped clothes, teeth that have probably ripped sharks to shreds… As for her style, it would be remiss to ignore the obvious M.I.A. comparisons, particularly when it comes to her vocal delivery: the shouty, half sung half rapped grenades she launches, the controversial imagery, even the way she elongates the last word of a bar. Musically, “War Drum” is quite superb, with an indelible guitar loop and driving percussion, it’s a surefire winner. The only slight criticism we’d have is that the lyrics need a touch more refinement but that will come with time. This is certainly the way to make a quick impression, and we’d bet she will gain as many nonplussed haters as die-hard admirers. (Reviewed by Raman)

War Drum - Universal Rhythm Venture (EP) - EP

Swami Baracus – “Break This Game (Allstar Remix)”

Hip Hop, R&B, Rap, Remix, Rock, UK Asian

Score: 7.4

It’s extremely telling that Swami Baracus has released a remix of “Break This Game” more than six months after releasing the original. Back then, you may recall, it had a certain appeal but we felt it was disjointed and that Baracus, in particular, didn’t deliver on the lyrics (he’s certainly a far more capable MC than that). We also stated that he’d seemingly “disowned” it already, and this power-move remix certainly seeks to address the previous misgivings. What’s the change, then? Primarily, it’s an HR decision where the personnel have been drafted in to form a mammoth guest list: Sam Khan, RKZ, AG Dolla, AC & “Rowdy Brown” (we won’t spoil that for you). So how do they fare? Well, it takes humility to admit you basically fucked up first time round, and Swami Baracus absolutely destroys his opening verse with genuine aplomb. Sure, each MC only spits 8 bars, but his in particular is technical/venomous in equal measure (as it should be), meaning he easily walks away with the track. Khan does well too, as does AG Dolla. AC is solid but rather more self-promotional; RKZ has okay lyrics but makes up for it with brilliant delivery. But the six MC’s all combine well to make it a far more interesting listen. As usual, Kazz Kumar turns up, looks pretty, tries to sing and waltzes off – but, in her defence, they should surely have taken the original chorus vocals out to give her space, as she can’t really be blamed for such a clash. All in all, it takes guts to re-do a track in this fashion, and credit where it is due – Swami Baracus has made a series of excellent decisions the second time round. Much, much better.

Swami Baracus – “Break This Game”

Hip Hop, Rap, Rock, UK Asian

Score: 5.4

Winning the “Asian 8 Mile Battle” at Bombay Bronx? Check. Co-sign from top BBC Radio 1 DJ, Nihal? Check. Excellent video? Check. So just what has gone wrong? Well, “Break This Game” – the very first single from Swami Baracus – has a rock instrumental which is reminscent of Akala on his “It’s Not A Rumour” LP, but lacking the subtlety, not to mention the percussion. Don’t misunderstand, it’s a decent enough album track, but his flow swings wildly from poor to excellent, the lyrics make little impact and the chorus doesn’t work as well as it should. It’s a very disjointed effort that could have worked but, by all accounts, Baracus himself seems to have already disowned. Break This Game - Single - Swami Baracus

Zaheer – “Fly Away” (featuring Arjun, Raxstar, Swami Baracus)

Hip Hop, Pop, R&B, Rap, Rock, Soul, UK Asian

Score: 6.8

Zaheer, the up-and-coming producer behind many a recent banger, does an early Kanye West and “saves all the best beats for himself” if “Fly Away” is any indication. He recruits Arjun – the youngling of sweet R&B voice fame – and a couple of rappers on this all-too-short guitar-driven track. The chorus by Arjun is nice, the verses from Raxstar and Swami Baracus are actually pretty decent, if not attention-grabbing, but the star of the show (and rightly so) is the gorgeous beat. He knows when to apply pressure, and when to back off, and I’d defy anyone to dislike the instrumental… Zaheer does seem to hit more than he misses, and his burgeoning reputation is no fluke, clearly.