Saturday, 19 July 2014

Record Review #1: MC Alikazam - You Bite, You Never Write

This is a rather special moment for me.
I have been following the UK's Style Warrior for a number of years now through his (LG's) perfect design ideology be it on paper (posters), material (t-shirts) or even audio (the occasional Takeover Shows on Disco Scratch Radio).
But now, Mr Lovegrove has begun his foray into the world of vinyl and astonishingly has announced the sale of a fully-packaged, ready-to-go 45rpm 7" single. I say "astonishingly" as this whole operation was pretty hush-hush save for a cryptic photo or two on the Style Warrior Facebook page. So when the whole package was announced recently it caused a bit of a stir as there was no mass social networking site spamming beforehand which does seem to be the done thing with some record labels. The element of surprise unsurprisingly has proved to be a canny move.

The story of how this 7" came about is slightly different to most others. Back in 2012 just before Christmas LG was given a cd from Chris aka MC Alikazam (The Dookie Squad) at one of the 4 Pillar events in London which when received was promptly stashed safely away in his bag and after a tipple or two subsequently forgotten about.
When LG listened back to the cd he was impressed, especially with Chris' own solo cuts and included some of them on one of his upcoming Style Warrior Takeover shows on Disco Scratch Radio. These went down well to the audience and it was at this point that the cogs began spinning in his head.

Alikazam did a fresh recording of the same lyrics for these two songs on the 7" as the original tracks on LG's cd had been knocking around since 2006. With some scratching and beefy beats cooked up by Beany (Thieving Beatmonkeys) it was inevitable that these songs would be released from the shiny, circular, plastic prison out into a waiting world.

Let's not sugarcoat this. These are not epically-long songs as this is of course only a 45 rpm 7" single. That means no instrumental versions, dubs or acapellas.
That said, the fact that the longest song is three and a half minutes long left me wanting more. It also helped that I enjoyed the tracks with their great cinematic, orchestral sound snatches which made them feel bigger than what they are - there is even the 20th Century Fox intro on the b-side track, Calmer Side Of Psycho.
The title cut, You Bite, You Never Write is the more uptempo of the two although by no means is this what you might consider a typical 'Britcore' track. Snappy drums, menacing brass and 100-mph lyrics accompany the Doug & Rick chorus.
I wonder if longer versions do exist? The instrumentals alone would be worth putting out on some Special Edtion steez!

The aforementioned b-side, '...Psycho' has a great buildup intro with the stretched Fox logo ident and goes into a superb break from Les Baxter's Hell's Belles soundtrack before Alikazam goes nuts.

Aside from the content of the inside of the record sleeve what hits you first is the design on the
outside. Anyone familiar with LG's work may recognise his signature artwork on the record sleeve. As always, never obvious, always subtle. Some of hip hop's greatest MCs adorn the picture in name-form - although there are two which are obscured by the border that are not clear but I'm guessing 'Bandog' and 'Mercury'.
Also included which I thought was a great touch is the inclusion of a separate sheet with original conceptual art on one side and the story of the 7" on the other. Brilliant. It reminded me of those sheets that you used to get with the early Def Jam albums in the late 80's.

Sadly there are only 250 copies and at the time of writing a great chunk have already gone. This really is a great release and as it is the first one from Style Warrior a lot of thought has really been put into it.
The price is applaudable, too. There's no pretensions, just a simple £6 plus two-fiddy for postage.

In conclusion, a really solid effort which leaves the listener in no doubt as to what Style Warrior is capable of.
Carlsberg don't make hip hop, but if they did.....

Go here to purchase your copy.

Listen below for a sample of both tracks.

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