Review: The NorthaZe – Sabre Series Volume 1

This collection of music is nine reasons why it’s a great relief to humankind that Soundcloud still exists.

Supremely detailed and original production combines with supremely detailed lyrics and original voice and flows to create this, possibly the strongest project from the young Leeds MCs so far – but Mellow Thrills still bangs.

Chummy with Blah Records but independent in their own right, The NorthaZe have been crafting their modern, often trippy hip-hop sound over the last couple of years – picking up a few admirers both on Soundcloud and the other, unlimited music server known as ‘real life.’ Opening up the Blah Records showcase a few months back at the Moustache Bar in Dalston and supporting Astroid Boys up in Glasgow has brought their music from headphones to sound systems, where their deep, spacey instrumentals are filled with the energy that these two bring.

There’s a grimy quality to their delivery, yet the lyrical content isn’t lacking like the reload-heavy nature of the grime genre can be. Rather, their bars are filled with anything from pure hype to sensitivity, with football and video game references stuffed in there that fellow British kids can relate to. Shouts out to DØØMED Regular, the clothing range and generally creative movement up in Yorkshire, underline a positive attitude to their craft for many youngsters up north. The track 20th Century, despite being named after what has preceded them, lays down the intentions of a group of young British talents from up that way.

BLAH SHOWCASE: Pics by @EllisDawg

Toshiro Steel goes in on a catchy hook and Jack Jetson comes with one of the verses on the whole mixtape, rhyming ‘MacBook Air’ and ‘tax book, swear’ with such finesse that it won’t leave your head until The NorthaZe’s next project drops. The vocal sample is perfect, helping it to become the most instantly recognisable tune on the tape whilst not dominating a record that puts the MCs first.

Lunar Cycling has a more tranquil quality, juxtaposed by the skippy flows that somehow compliment the beat perfectly. The originality in how these artists explore the depths of each and every beat that they spit on is to be admired, genuinely sounding like very little else around in hip-hop now. There’s inspiration from modern US hip-hop surely, but as they suggest in other work since, also from unconventional sources such as anime.

The following they’ve picked up without dropping an ‘official’ album is impressive, and they represent the strength in talent that the London-centric nature of our music media don’t yet fully notice. However, tapes such as this, combined with previous releases like Dream Emulator and Mellow Thrills, show their consistency and work rate, producing music not only well, but also often.

When an album eventually drops, their following will likely be even bigger and they would have had more gigs under their name. Exciting times lay ahead for these two, so keep your eyes on The NorthaZe. This gets 3.8 extra cold bottles of Asahi beer out of 5.

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