ALBUM: Black Josh – ‘Yung Sweg Lawd’
WORDS BY CRAIG HOPKINSON
Black Josh is a Rap aficionado, a rising star of the Blah Records hip hop family, an established member of Cult Of The Damned, architects of the underground U.K. hip hop scene, and a lyrical legends in Manchester, at least for anyone with a taste for real ‘Boom Bap’ or ‘Golden Era’ hip hop, and he is here with debut album; ‘Yung Sweg Lawd’.
First and foremost, hats off to the ‘Yung-Lawd’, for he does have the ‘Sweg’. The name of the album, along with its amazing artwork, tells its tale long before the first song of this exceptionally cool record even starts to play. From the tracks listed on the album it’s pretty difficult to pick just one to start and focus on as an example. The production, arrangement, level of post production and mastering that has been painstakingly poured into this work is just obvious to a trained ear. So, it really is full of killers without any fillers. But, to chose just one, it would be track thirteen; ‘2 Fone Shawty’. It’s just impeccably timed and an altogether perfect track.
Produced by Reklews, corner stone Cult Of The Damned producer and engineer, ‘2 Fone Shawty’ starts with a banging kick drum and snare, traditional to the ‘boom bap’ sound of hip hop. The hit of the drums is crisp and precise, delicately touched by a contrasting grand piano chord progression. This loop plays out for the first few bars of the song while a smooth, and somehow familiar, bass-line enters the song, adding another layer. This is then classically followed by Josh’s over-dub style vocal introduction. The whole song has a real ‘wall of sound’ kind of thing going on from the off. The quality and craftsmanship of the song, as well as the myriad of songs on the album produced, really do showcase the Cult Of The Damned and their ‘Sweg’. (Think I’m getting the hang of this ‘Sweg’ thing.)
When it boils down to content, which with rap artists it often does, and probably should, Black Josh has you covered. Again, with such heavy beats and his ‘wall of sound’ delivered by the production and mastering, Josh’s voice, rhyme scheme and message needed to bring some contrast, and in this case it really did. For a rapper poised as a bit of a ‘Jack the lad’, the cheeky character of the Cult, with some pretty raunchy videos out there, here he is; baring his soul. From tales of early strife to bars of underground fame and it’s heights, Josh makes his intentions perfectly clear with the lyrical content of ‘2 Fone Shawty’. The Manchester born rapper makes reference to the loss of his Grandfather and a final promise to protect his Grandmother, which drives his passion for success musically and financially. He’s cool, and he loves his Nan. What more could you want?
Other notable artists featuring on the album include; Lee Scott, rap artist and producer for Blah Records and the Cult Of The Damned, Skepta, with production of the last track of the album ‘Ciggaweed’, along with the introduction of Nah Eeto, Afro swing and dance hall inspired rapper and singer. Both Black Josh and Nah Eeto, the freshest signing to the Blah label, teamed up to deliver ‘Judge Judy’, and it’s one of the albums most pioneering songs.
‘Yung Sweg Lawd’ is potent. It’s a U.K. hip hop classic, nay, just a hip hop classic, a hopeful rumour months before it was even finished. The release of ‘Yung Sweg Lawd’ is a very exciting reality for U.K. Hip Hop fans, and Mancunians alike; a budding example of the culture that the city is infamously known to cultivate, and Josh is taking it right to the very top. The album boasts some serious musicianship, production and mastering skills and offers a trove of emerging artists and Hip Hop heavy weights.