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Rodney P
The Future

By Benjamin Lehmann

 
Rodney P is a true ambassador of UK hip hop. As part of London posse in the 80s he was involved in one of the first UK acts to generate widespread interest, but he is better known for his solo work: tunes like How's Life In London and Money Mad are long-standing anthems. London's record shops have long been alive with the whisper of release dates and track listings for P's debut solo album, The Future, which is finally released on Low Life in conjunction with his own label Riddim Killa this autumn.

The Future is destined for a warm reception on the UK's dance floors. The first single, Trouble, represents the dub-heavy side of the album with its booming bassline, long echoes and shuffling groove. Honey Williams features on the chorus, providing a super-sweet refrain to Rodney P's politically charged verse. There's even a nod to Arsenal's championship success, which will be popular with the North London crowd (and highly unpopular elsewhere). Da Hot Style is based on a jazz-style walking bass and rolling groove reminiscent of old school US acts like EPMD. It's full of lyrical attitude and admiration for the 'next man's girlfriend,' representing the badly behaved and downright dirty stylings which UK hip hop so often lacks. That is not to say, though, that the album is without its thoughtful moments. The title track is a manifesto for black youth, which moves subtly between a cautionary tale and it's central character, Blue, and the general problems facing young black males in the UK. I Believe is equally impassioned. Elsewhere, Karizma, an up-and-coming Nottingham MC, drops bombs on No Pets Allowed, and there's the obligatory big up to Rodney's previous work on Big Tings Again featuring MC D.

Rodney P is touring The Future with a full live band, featuring the Jungle Drummer, a highly talented cohort of London Elektricity (the fact that he is also about to tour with Timbaland should leave you in no doubt of his abilities) and long-time collaborator DJ Skitz. They are joined on stage by double-bass and horns, a welcome improvisation on the standard MC+DJ-showcase. The raw instrumentalism of the new album and Rodney P's hi-impact flow completely blow up North London's Progress, where the album is being previewed. It's evidence of how UK hip hop has continued to innovate. The Future is an important work from one of the scene's true originals, highly recommended.
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