The hook for this single, Revival Season`s Iron Warrior, is the catchy sing along, wonderfully radio-unfriendly, line of “I`m about to fuck your whole town up”. That’s effectively the chorus, which in itself says something about the irreverent stance of the label, Heavenly. An independent institution who’ve been around for long enough for some to consider them part of the establishment. Well, clearly they ain`t. I should make it plain though that rapper Brandon “Bez” Evans isn’t boasting about busting heads, instead he`s talking about painting your locale a lurid red.
I hadn’t bought a new rap record since Jungle Brown`s joyful, jazzy, Jurassic 5-indebted, Keep It Movin. Shit, before that it must have been something by Company Flow – over two decades ago. Jonah Swilley produces and, while swinging a loosely rattling break around, he taps into the Georgia-based duo`s Deep South heritage. Colouring proceedings with funky organ fills and an opiated tremolo guitar figure, worthy of the Fame(Studio)-d musicians of the neighbouring state`s Muscle Shoals. Bez` flow – am I allowed to say that, without sounding like your grandad attempting to be down with the kids? – had me rifling back through my vinyl collection.
In prep for this review I had a whole weekend dusting off – despairing at the younger me`s careless fingerprints, and the crackles – mid-90s US sides by KMD, fellow Fondle`em signings, Siah And Yeshua Dapo ED, DITC`s O.C., Dave Scratch`s blues-licked UK Stink Mix of Nas. The Vinyl Reanimators` rework of Kool G Rap`s Fast Life. Taking 12s from the shelves, tracks that bear the bite of Trevor “Underdog” Jackson – New Kingdom`s Good Times, and The Brotherhood`s Nominate – steeped in stoned Canterbury – Soft Machine – Scene samples. Cuts by likeminded contemporaries, such as Gutter Snypes` Trials Of Life. Where the wordplay`s playful, erudite, intelligent, set to start a party, but still moving, lacing, spiking, the punchbowl with just a touch of menace.
Without Bez`s lyrics the instrumental is actually pretty blue-skied, bucolic, balearic even. Summoning rose-tinted reflections of Rob Da Bank`s chilled Sunday Best sessions. Those warm, summery, early evening soirees spent on Clapham`s Southside, taking the edge off the night before – trying to hold Monday at bay a little longer – where it could have easily slotted into the soundtrack, spinning nicely next to selections from Lemon Jelly, Dan Mas, and J-Walk.
South Londoner Raf Rundell – label mate, and member of the Greco-Roman Soundsystem – supplies the remixes. Turning the head-nodding hip hop into a bona fide balearic beat. Retaining the break, but buffering that with a bumping mid-tempo 4 / 4. Initially fragmenting the vocal, and flexing its acid house credentials by focusing on the word “trip”. Building the groove gradually, and peaking with a short, but sweet, piano solo. There`s also a dub, that`s stripped of expletives, and slightly more subtly rubbery with reverb.
Revival Season`s Iron Warrior is out now on Heavenly Recordings.