Chattabox – They Call Me (hip-hop)

As I’ve come to expect from a Chattabox release, this one goes in hard from the start. I often go to some lengths to counter the idea that musical quality is a matter of technical skills being exploited at full stretch, but there are times when an impressive display of compositional and performance gymnastics makes a positive aesthetic contribution to the music. This is one such: the very fact that this shit is hard to do is a part of its strength, and since Chatta never takes his eye off the ball in terms of his lyrics and beats it never comes across as smart-arsed, or as empty formalism. A highly developed skill set, in areas completely unvalued by the cultural elite, is a challenge to hegemony, and an assertion of personal agency …

H.L.I. – Omniglyph (hip-hop)

Rap is a form of spoken language; perhaps more than any other discursive art, it has no independent existence on the page; semantics are central to its meanings, but flow and orality are its material substance. It’s interesting then, that H.L.I. have chosen to title this release in a way that ascribes universal significance to a visual mark, and even seems to suggest that as a work, it intends to either represent, or present itself as equivalent to, such an infinitely polyvalent grapheme. It’s fair to assume that they’re not too hung up on the specific definition of a ‘glyph’, but all the same, taken as a general term for a sign or symbol, it clearly implies a static, atemporal locus of meaning, in stark contrast to the sequential unfolding of rap…