DJ Fricktion – “This Is What I Do”

DJ, UK Asian

Score: N/A

Being a DJ is hard. When you’re on the come up, people will just literally hate you for the slightest reason: you didn’t play their song one time 8 years ago; dodgy promoters haven’t paid you, and somehow that’s your fault; your MacBook Pro got in the way of somebody’s drink; the one tiny error you made on an hour-long mixtape you gave out for free suddenly makes you wack… The list is practically endless. At SuperCritic we like to champion our DJ’s and make people aware of the vital role that Asians have played in popular DJ culture, full stop. Fricktion has released this (necessary) propaganda piece entitled “This Is What I Do” – a well put-together summary of his “lifestyle” with a few little displays of what he is all about. That basically involves playing to clubs, making artist-hosted mixtapes and producing hip hop beats. It’s a swanky six minutes, and doesn’t show just how hard life is behind-the-scenes, so you should know that Fricktion is doing well, not to mention doing it well. Good stuff. (Written by Jesal)

Advertisements

Swami Baracus & Sway – “Burban in the Booth”

Burban, Freestyle, Hip Hop, Rap, UK, UK Asian

Score: 8.2

There’s an endearing moment halfway through this excellent “Burban in the Booth” from Nihal’s radio show. It shows Swami Baracus – who is in the form of his life, and currently displaying enough to ensure that the whispers of him potentially being signed to a label are entirely believable – basically just wigging out that he’s meant to “follow” an outstanding verse by Sway. Whilst initially shook up, Baracus pulls himself together and straight rips the track. If we look at the game right now, Shizzio took a break to act and his new mixtape will give an indication of his skillset; Sam Kay appears to have to detached from the game for a while (although it is worth remembering his own BITB was pretty dope); Smartz is progressing well as an artist, as are a few others; Raxstar is, understandably, capitalising and channeling his energy towards dance tracks and girl-friendly guest verses whilst he preps his album. But who is really just improving as a rapper, year on year? Few other than Swami Baracus, and right now we’re coming close to recommending that he steps away from the Asian scene after his mixtape “The Recipe” drops in order to test himself in the broader UK rap game. Pound for pound, he’s pretty much the best pure MC we’ve got, and at some point he’s going to have to back himself and step outside of his comfort zone. (Reviewed by Jesal)

Swami Baracus – “Way of the Dragon”

Burban, Hip Hop, Rap, UK Asian

Score: 7.9

In what appears to be the intro to his forthcoming (and long-awaited) mixtape “The Recipe,” Swami Baracus spits continuous fire for just under three minutes over a dope old-school hip hop beat. There’s not really much more to add – “Way of the Dragon” is hot, and it’s a skillful lesson in being true to yourself. (Reviewed by Jesal)

RKZ – Are You Down

Burban, Dubstep, Grime, Hip Hop, R&B, Rap, UK Asian

Score: 6.5

RKZ has a lot going for him, but there is a risk of having too much of a good thing. It sounds absurd, but he is exactly the personality type that is in danger of becoming a “jack of all trades, master of none” – that’s fine if one wants to be known as a great all-round personality, but it’s different from being a great musical all-rounder. Being an all-rounder means picking one or two aspects of music (e.g. rapping or singing), and excelling at all of the microscopic areas within it – not being merely competent at a variety of different trades (rapping/singing/dancing/directing/DJing/Presenting/writing/poetry/TV/radio). In fairness, RKZ told this very website in a wonderful interview that he is a free spirit, but there comes a time when it would be wise for him to pick a lane – he’s been around for practically 7 years now, and his genuine breakthrough moments tend to come through R&B. And “Are You Down” is further example of a mixed bag: the beat is quite superb, simultaneously banging you over the head whilst also worming into your brain; the chorus is solid; the various flows (in particular the Jay-Z one) are inventive and exciting. Yet, something is missing, a combination of the lyrics and delivery – it’s good, sure, but it’s just not good enough to grab your attention in the way that a Sam Kay or Raxstar can manage (let alone the hundreds of non-Asian rappers out there). It isn’t about trying to change RKZ – it’s about giving him a set of parameters within which he can fully express himself, because right now we are getting 65% of a variety of things, whereas we should be getting 100% of one. (Reviewed by Rahul)
Check his “Power Trippin'” EP out here.

TaZzZ – “I Am” (Featuring Humble the Poet & Raxstar)

Burban, Hip Hop, Panjabi, Rap, UK Asian, USA

Score: 7.2

Solid conscious rap curated by TaZzZ, this timing flying in Humble the Poet to collaborate with Raxstar. Regarding the Luton MC, well – you’d probably know pretty much all you need to by now. He’s on pretty good form here, going over the moody and atmospheric beat by TaZzZ with a degree of fervour that suggests this is his more favoured branch of hip hop. The star of the show, however, is undoubtedly Humble the Poet: at times reminiscent of Big Pun’s tongue-twisting polysyllabic rhyme schemes, at others beaten but defiant warrior, he’s a revelation. Good stuff. (Reviewed by Jesal)

What’s Beef?

Diss, Editorial

Beef is a funny thing in hip hop. Take all the big ego’s, constant bragging, spirit of competition and a prerequisite need to feel that you’re the best, and clashes are inevitable. As long as informal rules are established, it can be an intriguing contest, a battle of wills, and maybe even let out the bad blood to boost careers.

That was before Twitter.

Twitter, that lightning quick character collector that distributes our innermost thoughts to people we’ve never even met. How to put this eloquently? Twitter fucked shit up. In the old days (about 3 years ago), when rappers had a problem, there was no immediate outlet to vent their frustrations, and no way to directly contact the other guy in full view of the public. Conversations were private, and both parties would have to take a series of steps to actively escalate a situation. Just like if an plane crashes, there are a number of things that must go wrong in order to get to that point.

Twitter, however, has made it possible to jump all of those steps and directly interact with another artist. This can lead to great things and collaborations, but it can also lead to problems, depending on the character types involved. Put simply, many of us shoot from the hip, speak our thoughts as we think them and care not for the consequences. But that can lead to trouble, and one should be prepared for it. And if the wrong (or right, depending on your viewpoint) two artists clash, it can create a situation out of nothing. After all, it’s a whole lot easier to back down and apologise in private, as opposed to in front of thousands of followers.

Which brings us onto the Sam Kay/Shizzio beef. Firstly, we’d like to send a big fuck you to the critics of our previous post on the subject. Rahul called it how he saw it, and as the editor, I back his right to an opinion. We love the other sites currently around, and there is room for everyone – SuperCritic has a place, and is not another content-only site, it delivers critical reviews assessing music to the very core, and occasionally gives unvetted opinions on items the writers deem worthy of commenting upon.

I’ve been asked for my take on the subject. Honestly? Blame Twitter. That’s not a diplomatic fence-sitting response. It’s just that from where I was sitting, watching things unfold, this all could have been avoided if people thought before they pressed the ‘Send’ button (literally the “Send” button, in this case).

Artists have a certain responsibility to their fans and to themselves to create great music. That’s the priority. As recent cases have shown, you can do pretty much anything and the public will forgive you if give them quality songs/albums. But at a more independent level, it helps to cooperate with one another. You might not always like each other, and will certainly disagree with the direction that a fellow artist takes. The Asian music scene is tiny, however, and you’re always going to bump into each other.

Don’t get it twisted – we are not talking about a couple of rappers that have broken the charts, or released classic albums, or sold gazillions of records. You’re talking about two big fish in a small pond. That’s the reality. And the reality is that you’d much rather hear both rappers on the same track, instead of going at each other.

Being a small pond, however, always sets up the possible trap of an even greater sense of ego. Shizzio tweets inadvisable things to Sam, Sam takes offense (with just cause). Sam should drop it, but doesn’t. Shizzio makes himself to look like the victim. Sam continues, and even throws an 8 bar jab on a new song. Words Ali tweets about Sam. Sam responds. People start to take sides. The game divides, less good music is released, and just like crabs in a bucket, they’ll stay there.

There is another way. It’s called thinking before you tweet. It’s called meeting up in person if you have a genuine issue, or even just talking to them properly on the phone. It’s called being consistent in your ideology and not using other people for self-promotion. If someone changes their name, let them. If someone private messages you about a possible collaboration, don’t hold it over them. If someone backs away, let it go.

Beef is a legitimate source of material, of conflict. But actual rap beef stems from actual problems. Twitter beef is thoughtless, disposable nonsense and 99 times out of a hundred, everyone comes off looking just a bit silly. Let’s see what happens next. The best outcome would be a couple of classic diss records, a reconciliation and an eventual collaboration after the misunderstanding. Does anyone really see that happening?

“A wise man told me don’t argue with fools, Cos people from a distance can’t tell who is who.”

(Posted by Jesal)