V/A – Life Before 40

Low Life Records have been one of the UK’s most consistent purveyors of assured hip hop for well over a decade. This essential compilation of tracks that slipped between the cracks packs 13 urban tales set to the finest of beats and then unpacks the tracks in a bonus mix CD by Kam just for good measure

British hip hop has always been set apart by its unique sense of humour, which comes across on a number of these tracks but none more strongly that on Ricochet’s ‘Mad Runningz’ — on one level a tale of a disorganised drug dealer having a Norman Wisdon meets Goodfellas kind of day and on another level a classic romantic tragicomedy. I don’t want to spoil the ending but let’s just say the chances of Ricochet and Cherise making it are not good.
When it comes to the beats and production, these tracks can’t be faulted. Every one is a rolling beat bouncing monster. Further flava is added by individual touches and judicious use of sampled beats and bleeps.
Mystro dispenses gritty street wisdom on ‘Tellin’ You’. Weapons, dead end jobs, the competition, the kids all come under scrutiny with possibly the first recorded use of fishing maggots as a metaphor in hip hop.
The sleeve notes lament the fact that Skinny Man’s huge tune ‘Who ? Me’ was never released as a single but gets another welcome outing here. Top melodic sample sets off Skinny Man’s rhymes.
And just to remind you that it is not just a London ting, we go up north with Braintax for funk thumper ‘Just Me’, which came out last year. Big up Leeds! Braintax also joins up with Mystro for an exclusive to end the album with ‘On the Road’. After all the tough stuff, it’s a welcome switch of tone on this chilled number celebrating the joy of travelling.
But the last word goes to Rodney P. Over a swirling epic dub hop backdrop, he delivers a furious flow of rhymes and a catchy chorus for the best of a very good bunch of tracks. ‘Big Tings We Inna’. Indeed.
1. Life & Breath – Supa T, Lewis Parker & Braintax
2. The Last Tune – Task Force
3. City Of Industry – Jehst
4. Big Tings We Inna – Rodney P
5. Showbitchness – Verb T & Harry Love
6. Mad Runningz – Ricochet
7. You Know Who You Are – Rodney P, Farma G, Mystro & Braintax
8. Money In The Bank (orig. version) – Asaviour feat. Jehst
9. Tellin’ You – Mystro
10. Straight Dirt – Kashmere The Iguana Man
11. Who? Me. – SkinnyMan
12. Just Me – Braintax
13. On The Road – Braintax & Mystro (exclusive)
CD2 features a mix of all the tracks by Kam & all the Low Life videos
Life Before 40 Cat no. LOW40CD is released on Low Life Records
Link: www.lowliferecords.co.uk


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