To me in this world of hip hop music there is nothing better than the thought of a rapper/Dj/producer combination. Call me old fashioned if you will but the hairs on the back of my neck stand to attention when I hear an MC spitting heat over a banging beat with fresh cuts. The history runs deep with the likes of Guru and DJ premier, Pete Rock and CL Smooth, Kool G Rap and DJ Polo, KRS One and DJ Scott La Rock to name a few that have carried the flag in this section in the past. What happened to the days when a duo could carry the can for a whole album without the need for guest spots, star producers, ghost writers or guest djs on the cuts? Don’t get me wrong there is nothing wrong with that but it kind of seems like a distant memory when duo’s and even trio’s like De La Soul, Tribe Called Quest, Cypress Hill where churning out dope albums without much help. It’s just refreshing to hear a project that falls into that category. I don’t know about you guys but I miss that relationship between rapper and Dj/Producer. When artists are able to build a repertoire and that musical chemistry that can create classic music.
The present day and in steps King RA and Bunty Beats. Quite an unusual match up with a Jersey MC and Bunty hailing from the UK. I suppose the internet and the explosion of social media makes it easier for people from all walks of life connect. I’ll be perfectly honest I didn’t know anything about these dudes before, but that’s all changed since hearing the album so lets begin this review.
Firstly I love the albums title “Back To The Essence”. The fact that it has been thehiphopfoundation’s moto and tagline since we launched in 2012, only got me more intrigued to take a listen. The front cover is pretty plain with the name of the album and King RA and Bunty Beats written across the front. In all honesty I think they could of been a bit more adventurous with the artwork but I suppose “content is king” at the end of the day. The intro is real cool and straight to the point. King recites the words “Knowledge is an important element of hip hop that is missing in today’s culture and music and the only way we can actually get back to that is to bring it back to the essence” I instantly connected with these heartfelt and genuine words because I could not agree more with this statement and message.
The first track titled “King” comes in all guns blazing. The beat bangs with fierce bass and horns and a nice sample from Run DMC that fits the track like a glove. From the get go King RA introduces himself as title contender that plain and simply he is here to takeover from the weak competition. He flows through lines with ease and precision. All competion Fall back King means business and if you need schooling take his class. Bunty cuts up the sample and showcases his skills on the outro.
On “One Of The Best” King stakes his claim to just that over a nice laid back beat from Bunty. King gives reasons for why he is one of the best in every line. He knows exactly what the hip hop masses need and he’s going to give it to them in full. “Bring the hardest ryhmes out I’m that x10 x that by a hundred when I spit this flem. Take several playbacks just to catch these gems, the new, new testament, the truth when I represent. Only here for hip hop and the betterment, good enough reason to keep bringing medicine to the masses, they in need of more relevence, less dumbing down, well here’s some intelligence.” King epitomises his intentions on this track. Dope use of vocal samples by Bunty again on this. This time he uses Guru and again it works perfectly.
“Cry Now” has a nice beat and strings. King delivers venomous lyrics to anyone who cares to step. More lyrical beatdowns and the phyical kind if you enter his zone.
King shares his struggles and mistakes he’s made in everyday life on “Gonna Make It” He’s not prepared to stand still and accept this. That was the past you cant dwell on it, you have to move on if you want to change your life and reach your personal goals. He explains that motivation and focus are key and with a few life changes you can achieve whatever you want. “This time I made up my mind, worked from within, changed the design. Heard a few things about managing time, opened my ears took words from the wise. Turned off the TV to cut down the lies, put my foot on the gas, turned up my drive. Wipe the crusts off, opened my eyes” The track is inspiring and uplifting gives the listener food for thought. Another laid back beat with a soft sounding piano riff and again the cuts are fautless.
King isn’t just nice on the mic he can hand out beatdowns as well and on “Get Em” he proves just that. The beat is moody and grimey and RA spits hardcore lyrics that will get you hype at the push of a button. If you need to get worked up about something this is the track for you.
“Chillin” and “Golden Era” kind of compliment eachother. RA talks about taking it back to the essence and describing everything wrong with the rap game today and where it needs to go with the the help of this duo taking out all fake competitors. Golden era has a nice 90s style beat and RA pays homage to the golden era music and its legacy. He salutes his fans and describes what hip hop hes going to continue to bring to the table. Only the real, no watered down hip pop. He ain’t going nowhere is the big message here.
“the production is tight and Bunty shines on every track with the beats and cuts which really does allow King RA to do his thing”
Another interlude were RA talks about how it used to mean something to be original and have your own style that brought something new to the table. He goes on to say that his own intentions are to be original and not copy or bite anybody elses style. This leads the listener to one of the standout tracks of not only the album but this year so far “No Copy“. The beat is fire and RA spits flames word for word and line for line throughout.” Why these rap birds nowadays rocking dresses, I had to address this. Turned up to stress this, you guys seem obsessed with, being bitch, bitch n***as make no sense. Thats why women switch sides start licking clits.” Booooooooooooooom!!!!!!!!!
RA expresses his conscious side on “Rise Up” an uplifting song for the people. RA explains Its everybodies responsibility to raise awareness and not only that its time for less words and more action. RA touchs on many topics, revolution to dirty cops to bringing back family structure. The need for fathers and mothers to guide the youth. I can totally relate to this in every way. RA mentions no colour and that we are one under the sun, original and authentic. Wise words from the King and another dope beat from Bunty who tears it up on the cuts at the end.
GUDLUV has the only feature of the album EJdoesit, a female artist who lays soft vocals on the chorus which fits the song and is a nice touch. Topic here is love in the relationship. This track shows King’s versatility on subject matter showing he can spit to any type of track. If you thought the album was about to go soft, think again. The last three tracks finish like it all started, HARD!!! “Slow but calm” is another grimey beat with a biggie sample on the chorus. King weighs in with more lyrics on “Sinister”.
The Album even finishes on a high with “Metaphors” the production is ill, a real neck snapper. King spits more heat at the competition. “Which punk gonna jump up next, try to flex in a no flex zone, broke neck” Love it.
Ok, verdict? In all honesty King RA and Bunty Beats have lyrics and beats for days. They never seem to run out of steam. The album is a banger and their are few low points, if any. If you like your hip hop with no frills then this is for you. For me this is hip hop as it is mean’t to be done. I love the fact the album has no guest spots, it shows RA can more than handle the spotlight on every track with dope, wholesome lyrics that can fill any listeners tummy. The album has substance and meaning and the tracks flow nicely without the need to fast forward which is always a good sign. Very little filler, the album was consistent in all departments. I hope this duo stick together for future projects as I feel it will grow even bigger with time. Let me also add the production is tight and Bunty shines on every track with the beats and cuts which really does allow King RA to do his thing. I love big beats and cuts with dope lyrics and this delivers in every way what I expect in a hip hop album. The only downside to me was the already mentioned album art, it didn’t stand out enough for me. Like they say though “Don’t judge a book by its cover”. The other slight gripe was that the tracks were a little short for me and when I wanted more lyrics and cuts they never came.