@YOSHI_RIOT Gets Ready To Release ‘Contrast’

Yoshi Riot is put­ting Manchester on the Hip-Hop map. Since releas­ing debut EP ‘Smoke Me I’m Dope’ two years ago he’s fea­tured in numer­ous col­lab­or­a­tions includ­ing ‘Ter­min­al Testi­mony’ with Jister and ‘Ain’t No Use’ with fel­low man­cuni­ans Led­die & Smoggy. 2014 has seen him adopt an assidu­ous work­flow, already hav­ing released two EPs, ‘The Work­ing Classy’ and ‘The Stretch’, early August will see the release of debut album ‘Con­trast’, a bril­liant record that should cement his place on the UK hip-hop scene.

The album kicks off with ‘Let’s Go’, a great intro track that sees Yoshi deliv­er par­layed vocals over a soft and remin­is­cent beat, intro­du­cing us not only to his style and flow, what he’s about as a rap­per, but also what he’s about as a human.

Track 2 ‘Lately’ has a typ­ic­ally hip-hop sound beat that will please pur­ists such as myself. Yoshi adopts a sim­il­arly defin­it­ive style of deliv­ery and flow to match this and his tim­ing is expert, deliv­er­ing drawn out rhymes in a style remin­is­cent of Nas, the rhyme is com­pleted by the pen­ul­tim­ate word of the sen­tence with the last word car­ry­ing for­ward to the next line, not an easy feat to achieve suc­cess­fully, but here it’s been mastered.

‘It’s Deep­er Than That’ is track 3 and has a sim­il­ar style to track 2, giv­ing the album a good flow. In addi­tion to the hard-hit­ting old-skool drum pat­terns, the beat incor­por­ates some beau­ti­ful melod­ic and har­mon­ic ele­ments, giv­ing a fur­ther dimen­sion.

Track 4 ‘Like Ya Meant It (Drop)’ is an early high­light of the record. Yoshi deliv­ers some great word­play com­ment­at­ing on this generation’s super­fi­ci­al­it­ies and short­com­ings with impress­ive depth whilst main­tain­ing high qual­ity struc­ture, flow and rhyme. The chor­us sees him adopt a more aggress­ive style of deliv­ery and incor­por­at­ing growls fur­ther demon­strat­ing his high abil­ity as an MC.

‘No Sleep (Cous­in of Death)’ fol­lows as track 5 and per­fectly fol­lows on from the aggress­ive style of track 4 with a laid­back, clap-along beat and par­layed vocals. Packed full of relent­less word­play and well timed deliv­ery this track is anoth­er high­light with its smooth-as-vinyl-lin­ing hook and chilled vibe. This chilled vibe is con­tin­ued with track 6 ‘Light­speed’ with instru­ment­a­tion remin­is­cent of early Speech Debelle mater­i­al and a shuff­ling beat. Yoshi deliv­ers more high-grade word­play with a defin­it­ive flow and catchy hook.

Track 7 ‘Con­trast’ fea­tures the records first guest spot in the form of Smooth Jezza, whose verse is hip-hop gold with amaz­ing flow. Fol­low­ing the style of the pre­vi­ous track the vibe is kept chilled with a laid­back beat. ‘Signz’ fol­lows as track 8 with anoth­er guest appear­ance, this time from Gen­es­is Eli­jah. A simple yet effect­ive beat is accom­pan­ied by both MCs deliv­er­ing socially aware lines about hid­den truths and oppres­sion, dis­play­ing their appre­ci­ation for hip-hop’s often for­got­ten fifth ele­ment; know­ledge. Great pro­duc­tion, giv­ing the beat and the bass their sep­ar­ate son­ic zones, also adds to the effect­ive­ness of this track; anoth­er high­light.

Track 9 ‘Breath’ sees Yoshi return to a more aggress­ive style, which sits per­fectly after the laid back vibe of the pre­vi­ous few tracks. In spite of the aggress­ive style, the tempo of the vocal is laid back which gives a great con­trast and also demon­strates Yoshi’s tal­ent for deliv­er­ing the notori­ously trouble­some ‘slow-rap’ with amaz­ing ease, really high­light­ing his tal­ent as an MC.

‘’Maybe I Could’ fol­lows as track 10 and again sees a laid back beat accom­pan­ied with slightly more aggress­ive vocals this time with a smooth hook provid­ing a pleas­ing con­trast. Once again the pro­duc­tion of the beat has been handled expertly giv­ing a really atmo­spher­ic sound and let­ting the vocal sit beau­ti­fully. With lyr­ics about love and rela­tion­ships this track’s matur­ity gives a refresh­ing change from the overtly chau­vin­ist­ic sub­ject mat­ter of most chart hip-hop today. Track 11 ‘Call Me When You Get This’ makes bril­liant use of sampling and more par­layed flow from Yoshi pro­duce a sound remin­is­cent of golden era hip-hop from the 90s or an early Kanye West sound.

Top female rap­per Led­die (of Led­die & Smoggy) fea­tures on track 12 ‘Yes Lord’ and the com­bin­a­tion of her and Yoshi really cre­ates a spe­cial sound, a suit­ably aggress­ive flow is delivered by both MCs and a start-stop beat allows the vocal lines to cre­ate their own rhythms, fit­ting around the track and cre­at­ing am awe­some sound. Led­die is a bril­liant MC and her appear­ance here really show­cases her tal­ent. A catchy hook sung by Yoshi and Led­die fur­ther adds to the great­ness of this track; gold-stand­ard hip-hop.

Track 13 ‘Nat­ur­al Selec­tion’ con­tin­ues with the stop-start beat style, leav­ing space for the vocal to stand alone, and it works really well. Anoth­er guest spot from Jister also sits well, giv­ing the track great­er dimen­sion. ‘Hello Sun­shine’ fol­lows as track 14 and sees a return to a chilled vibe. The vocals are delivered again with great tim­ing, wrap­ping around the beat. Track 15 ‘Do What I Gotta’ returns to a golden-era sound, employ­ing a rever­ber­ated beat and a great vocal flow with relent­less rhym­ing and bril­liant word­play, but again it’s word­play with mean­ing, which is always wel­come.

Track 16 ‘2nd Gen­er­a­tion’ was released earli­er in the year in the wake of the UKIP debate and deals with Yoshi’s take on the ‘immig­rant bash­ing’ that’s all too present. Hav­ing fam­ily ori­gin­at­ing from Rus­sia, Hun­gary and Yugoslavia gives him an in-depth know­ledge of the sub­ject and he’s clev­erly passing on that insight to the listen­er, whilst main­tain­ing a great flow and much word­play and rhyme. This track marks anoth­er high­light of the record, hand­ling such a con­ten­tious social issue with such matur­ity and ease sug­gests real poten­tial for Yoshi to go far on the hip-hop scene inter­na­tion­ally and show­cases his integ­rity per­fectly.

Track 17 ‘I Miss You Some­times’ is the best track on the record, I won’t go into depth on the sub­ject mat­ter, but Yoshi pitches it flaw­lessly with a breath­tak­ingly emotive deliv­ery over a remin­is­cent beat, high­light­ing music’s abil­ity to break the fourth wall and hit listen­ers on anoth­er level.

‘Shine On’, track 18, has anoth­er catchy hook and returns to the more upbeat vibe. Yoshi spits some impress­ively intric­ate lines at pro-speed and switches between rap­ping and singing without issue. The inclu­sion of horns and synths in the beat give a great sound that accom­pan­ies the vocal bril­liantly. Track 19 ‘If There Was Any Oth­er Way’ fea­tur­ing TS17 Pro­jekt has a sim­il­ar sound to the pre­vi­ous track and sees Yoshi con­tin­ue to show­case some impress­ive vocal abil­ity.

The record closes with ‘We Don’t Have Forever’, a laid back track where the focus is on the vocal, which works per­fectly as the final sound, cement­ing Yoshi’s abil­ity dis­played through­out the album. Intel­li­gent and intric­ate rhyme pat­ters and word­play, and a simple beat all work togeth­er to cre­ate a clas­sic hip-hop sound with a mod­ern stamp.

This record show­cases Yoshi Riot’s abil­ity and tal­ent per­fectly and the pro­duc­tion has been handled mas­ter­fully; Con­trast is a bril­liant work of mod­ern UK hip-hop. There is poten­tial for Yoshi to go far with abil­ity this high and if he con­tin­ues to devel­op his sound we are undoubtedly in store for a clas­sic album in the not-too-dis­tant future. At 20 tracks, this record is a long play­er, and amaz­ingly, it’s all killer and no filler. Highly recom­men­ded.


Micky Roots

Micky Roots

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Micky Roots

Micky Roots

Micky roots is one of the edit­ors of I am hip hop magazine, a pure hip hop head and visu­al artist he brings his strong know­ledge of hip hop, social con­scious­ness & polit­ic­al con­cern to No Bounds.

About Micky Roots

Micky Roots
Micky roots is one of the editors of I am hip hop magazine, a pure hip hop head and visual artist he brings his strong knowledge of hip hop, social consciousness & political concern to No Bounds.

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