UK Hip Hop: International
Villains/Wolftown Recordings
I was really pleased to get this LP - 'Welcome to Wolftown' which was put back and is now released October 9th for the CD & October 16th for the double vinyl. These guys express many sentiments and feelings that really resonate with me. They are obviously struggling to get stuff sorted, just as I did at the beginning of the '90s. I was on the dole trying to make beats and progress myself and that is what these guys are trying to do too. Instead of just sitting at home complaining about the situation they have worked hard over the last few years to refine musical techniques and put a business plan into action - a good set of role models for anyone out there wanting to do their own thing. Now after all the foundations they have put down they are now putting themselves out there and are making some noise, firstly by dropping a freestyle on Disorda's 'UK Hustlerz Vol. 5' and as well as having a track on the '100% UK HIp Hop' Compilation they are now putting out records on the regular via their own label Wolftown. They are even publishing their own free quarterly Hip Hop fanzine - Rago.

Initially I had worried about the image they portray in that they could simply be on that Gangster shit (and those who still say they are have not listened properly), but having ingested all they have to say, they are delivering observations about their everyday lives and reading between the lines give messages for self improvement and street survival.

Right from the intro you can tell that is a well crafted release and contains the previous singles 'UK Sound' and 'Gotta Get the Cash'. UK Sound is a track paying dues to all those who got UK Hip Hop to the stage it is at now and deserves props for that. It received rave reviews and is a good catchy track, however the reggae/ska vibe feels more cheesy, than original and the singing is a bit naff, but even with these reservations the tune is bangin'. 'Machete' is the next track and comes more correct beat wise with MC Late joined by 10Shott from another Wolftown Crew Vicious Circle.

'Dark Visions' is one of the stand out tracks with its haunting muted deep horn and warning tales of potential future living conditions where people are bar-coded in a 1984 sort of way. Dark Visions coming soon... (tipped to be the next single).

'Twisted Elements' featuring High Timez ragga chanting in he chorus continues the dark theme over an IMD beat. There are no specific topic for this rap, but Late still manages to kick over several ideas along with bigging himself up.

'Hustling Hard' steps up the production with a Sicilian feeling guitar loop over which Late talks on subjects like unemployment, living in an inner city environment and putting up with under-maintained council housing.

'Gotta Get the Cash' is a fine example of a story rap in which we follow the rappers struggles to raise cash. All the way through one is thinking that he is glamourising a thug lifestyle, but there is a twist in the penultimate verse when it becomes apparent that the life of crime is 2nd choice and only a means to an end and once he has enough to put out a demo tape he's going legit. In the final verse the consequences of a crime fuelled existence are explored.

My Design Enjoyment is one of the roughest and simplest tracks on the album, but is also one of the dopest as the MC straight out of jail spits what he's been writing behind bars. The other track with a similar vibe is the penultimate track 'The Ones That Know' in which Profesah 194 rhymes about spending his 18th and 21st birthdays in a young offenders institution.

I always think it is unfortunate to have an extra track on a CD because I still love my vinyl, but Heir to the Throne is a worthy addition on the mellow and relaxing tip. Other tracks on a more mellow weed influenced vibe include 'Comin' Thru' and 'Guv'nors Of Wolftown'.

There are only a couple of short skitz/beats and 'Murda One' is one of them. One minute of a fat IMD beat adorned with additional percussion from chimes and bells. The other is 'IMD's Groove' another short beat, this time with a piano accompaniment.

Tracks on an angry, stressed and paranoid tip include 'Get Out Of My Way', 'Stress' and 'Paranoid' which express sentiments of frustration with the system, a sense of provocation from the police and exasperation with a small cash flow. 

Without describing each track in detail the overall theme for the LP is realness and life on the dole. The pictures and emotions conjured up are those of deprivation, dispossession, recession and stress and are similar to those experiences most people will endure in urban areas in Britain today. What I really like is the continual references to stuff uniquely identifiable as British, like people parking their Benz's round the corner before they sign on, which we see everyday and this means I can identify with their messages. 

In 'Going On Rago' Late tells listeners via real life experiences what'll happen if one carries on too 'Rago'. Basically it may lead to getting some shine on the streets, but ultimately it could lead to 4 years of hell in big mans jail, and back on the streets you'll still broke for realla.... Get the message?

The first track laid down for the LP was 'Welcome To Wolftown' which is now 2 years old but still sounds fresh. Its all about the dodgy runnings which are needed to get by on meager Giro cheques and the mean streets of Wolftown.

The album is rounded off with 'For The Mans Dem' a posse cut featuring just about all of the other Wolftown members such as Vicious Circle (14 year olds Lee Dee and Wayney G), Jai-Boo (only 5 foot 2") and ragga artist High Timez as well as all the Villains. Each MC rhymes for 8 bars over the piano oriented beat. Each shows their potential with the more experienced MCs coming off best.

For me this is a hard working crew who have plenty of ideas along with the motivation and desire to make something of their talents. The LP is very well produced and everything comes through clear and all the different elements are placed well in the mix - they have obviously spent a lot of time refining their sound. I really like Late who really uses his own accent comes on beat and is eminently intelligible and has deep thoughtful lyrics. However a few people I have played the tracks to don't rate his flow, saying it is too simplistic and plodding. I'd allow him this at this stage in his development and take him for what he is. Similar complaints have been heard for IMD/Tricksta's production such as all the instrumentation sounding like it came from the same keyboard. They guys have definitely got skills, and are most likely working with some limited equipment, from which they are getting good results, and although their composition and arrangements are top notch, they need to learn how to add a grimy edge and choose sounds with more depth and resonance.

There is not one bad track on this album, although none are perfect either. This is a very strong release and the collection of tracks makes for something that can be played over and over.

Villains - Welcome To Wolftown
VILLAINS - Welcomme To Wolftown WOLFCD/LP.001

1. Intro (1.14)
2. UK Sound (3.53)
3. Machete (Featuring 10Shott) (4.07)
4. Dark Visions (2.58) 
5. Twisted Elements (Featuring High Timez) (3.49) 
6. Hustliní Hard (3.21) 
7. Gotta Get The Cash (5.35)
8. My Design Enjoyment (2.39) 
9. Heir To The Throne (4.13) (CD only) 
10. Murda One (1.06) 
11. Get Out My Way (3.32) 
12. Comin Thru (3.16) 
13. Stress (3.23) 
14. IMDís Groove (0.51) 
15. Paranoid (4.00) 
16. Guvínors Of Wolftown (4.57) 
17. Going On Rago (3.51)
18. Welcome To Wolftown (4.18) 
19. 4 Da Ones That Know (3.05) 
20. For The Mans Dem (3.29)

Rago Magazine

Other Wolftown News:

> The 'Bush Corner' album is now near complete...
> 'Bush Corner' EP is out now
> The new single is called 'Bwoy'. It features label mate CONMAN and two other tracks called 'Money Makin' & 'Burglar's. It drops in November!
> The album 'Bagged Out' will be released February 2001 on CD and double vinyl.

Featuring LATE, PROFESAH 194, 10SHOTT, SIZE8, HIGH TIMEZ, JAI BOO, CONMAN, WAYNEY G and LEE DEE with production from TRICKSTA and PEZ...
> Wolftown Committee's first release will be 'Artform Technique' (Two Mixes) and 'Could It Be' on 12" early in November 2000.

Issue One is out now and distributed world-wide.
> Issue drops late October with features on Kool Keith, Villains, The Extremists, DFXO, Vicious Circle, Masterminds, Kidd X, Mafioso Kapone, Moorish Delta 7, DJ Menace, Tommy Evans, Reachout, Haych and loads, loads more.... Looks heavy.
ADVERTISING SPACE is limited - get in touch now!!

> REAL AUDIO CLIPS will be available soon on www.wolftown.co.uk

Visit the Villains on the web: www.wolftown.co.uk
Wolftown Recordings, PO Box 1668, Wolverhampton, England, WV1 4ST
Email: info@wolftown.co.uk :: Tel/Fax: +44 (0) 1902 564 795

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