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UK Hip Hop: International
DSP - In The Red LP [Ninja Tune]
DSP - In The Red
Ninja Tune
Apparently DSP have been around for a while and now renamed simply DSP as opposed to Dynamic Syncopation they now release their second Long Player on Ninja Tune records. Not having followed Ninja Tune for a few years I canít comment on their earlier work or whether this stands as a new direction or is more of the same, either way this production team of the Loop Professor and B Allen have laid down some hefty mid tempo tracks, upon which they have secured a wide variety of some of the best guest vocalists they could have. As with all records of this genre the opening is a little instrumental intro that definitely sets the flavour for what is to come, with its live bass, scratches, trumpets and repeated voice saying DSP. The opening track proper, Systematic which features Mass Influence sets off the LP with one of the highlights, a bassline led groove with spacious piano hits and tinkley bottle or bell sounds. Where Is It features Ev.On and does sound quite formulaic, which is a shame considering she is the only female vocalist on the LP. Dell Donahue, a new name to me makes his first appearance on the disappointing Outtaplace track. Probably only rating just above average and possibly one of the weaker tacks on the entire release.

Trife-A-Saurus Rex, steps things up to the required level, with a repetitive hard bassline riff over which Apathy gets busy making this officially the standout hard track in what is largely a quite pleasing and otherwise friendly record. Phi Life Cypher let rip on the My 1st Verse track and skilfully deliver the exact same style that they are renowned for. Eminently listenable, these guys have got skills and seem to be the UKís number one fast rapping crew. I guess that this fast rapping means a couple of poor similes slip in on occasion, but musically this is a track to feel.

Old Skool legend Chill Rob G makes his first appearance on Bullshit. Here he lets us know what he is famous for and that is clear and concise rhymes dropped on point. On this track he gives us the same old flow that we are used to from him and along with the particular selection of Funk samples used for the backing this tune has the vibe of a few years ago. The next tune, The Living I features New Fleshís Juice Aleem, who in a similar manner to the previous track drops a clear, but simplistic flow.

The middle of the LP is broken with Skit A, a mellow flute heavy relaxing little instrumental ditty, before it is back to the straight up Funk, which is definitely present in the groovesome Imagine That, Chill Rob Gís second appearance. Here he raps about being held back by various people and circumstances in life. 2 Tha Left showcases Mass Influence for the second time and this has to be one of the most laid-back tracks on the LP. Being rather samey, this tune towards the end of the record is a welcome variation to the vibe and although each individual song is quality it could be that youíd want to mix this up, or dip in and out, rather than listen all the way through in one setting. Continuing the wind down, possibly the oldest UK Hip Hop outfit still making tracks, Def Tex lay their own intimidable lyrics over Way Past Noon, but lack impact and although this is meant to be a on a relaxed laid back vibe, the MCs donít really get hold of their task and fade into the background a bit.

Before the final track there is another short instrumental Skit before Dell Donahue tells us how he has No Regrets. Another chilled sit down track based on a relaxing piano loop and which does give the LP a definite rise in energy and danceability followed by a comedown to de-stress to.

If we have to explore problems with this record, there arenít too many. Really the only bad thing is that there are no real outstanding bangers, i.e. potential hit singles or club smashes. Instead every track is strong, funky, well produced, utilises great samples and fat sounds. The mastering is quality, on a par with anything and to keep this up across 14 tracks is a substantial achievement. Perhaps some of the MCs donít hit the highs we know they are capable of and maybe have saved some of their material and experimentation for their own releases.

As an overall product this is somewhat better than I had expected, but I suppose considering the quality of the guests that they would not all be duped into appearing on weak wax and that alone gives you a clue as to the quality. There is no real ground breaking done here. Rather a re-confirmation that the old tried and tested techniques of super fat beats compiled from a plethora of different sources all nicely sequenced up, accompanied by top notch lyricism really works and makes for good listening. There are hours of play in this release and shows that the Ninjas arenít getting too old and fat, instead they have remained true to their core ideals and kept up with their training regime and still have the ears to put out that good shit.
 

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Ninja Tune
Intro Early Doors:
1979-1985
False Dawn:
1985-1990
Underground Years:
1990-1995
The Renaissance:
1995- 2000
The Future:
2000 & Beyond
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