10 BRITISH RAP RELEASES OF 2017: The NorthaZe – Sabre Series Volume 1

The negligence that the majority of music media in the UK has for covering the entire hip-hop landscape of the country is exposed no better than by artists like these…

By Greg Stanley, Bossman-in-chief

This isn’t the first time we’ve written about The NorthaZe at Offie Mag and we can almost guarantee it won’t be the last.

Once described by one of our writers as the best duo Leeds has seen since Alan Smith and Mark Viduka, the Yorkshire tag team are a couple of the most original hip-hop artists in the country right now, making their music free from the boxing of genres. Sabre Series Volume 1 is a 9 track mixtape that displays this unique sound, just as previous work such as Dream Emulator and the Blah Records released Mellowthrills have done in previous years. The ‘tape opener, Astral Turf, sets the tone of the entirety of Sabre Series Vol 1 perfectly, with this the chosen track to not only lead the project but also to visually represent it in some captivating visuals.

Still some of the youngest guys doing it, KosiTides and Swish trade back and forths like rappers with experience beyond their years, inviting other Yorkshire-based artists Jack Jetson and Toshiro Steel to get involved too on one of the standout tracks, 20th Century. Steel, the man also responsible for mixing this project down, provides the hook on a tranquil instrumental with a classy Kali Uchi sample adding a sense of calm to the whole track. Such a vibe continues throughout, with only Jack Jetson’s ‘MAC BOOK AIR / TAX BOOK SWEAR’ rhyme waking you up from a state of musical lucid dreaming.

Lyrics with delightfully niche references in the form of football similes (‘defend like I’m Lovren / push it right-back, Nathaniel Clyne’) and video games (‘skin him on dirt like it’s Colin McRae / Smackdown leg-locks’) make this a release fine-tuned to a British audience of the same generation as Kosi and Swish. Through their strong accents, listeners down south may miss a couple bars, but when they connect, you’re shaking your head and swinging on your desk chair in appreciation.

The depths of each instrumental on this tape is scary, taking inspiration from a variety of different genres to create this project. From grime sneaking into their occasional 140 flows, to some liquid-like dance music for that futuristic, ‘year 2020’ sound with an obvious influence of modern rap and trap from the US also in it, too.

The result is a mixtape that is pushing boundaries for UK hip-hop and one that is sure to blow the mind of London centric rap fans when the time comes for them to hear the noise that The NorthaZe are making. The negligence that the majority of music media in the UK has for covering the entire hip-hop landscape of the country is exposed no better than by artists like these, as along with Black Josh, Sleazy F and Pertrelli, The NorthaZe represent an extremely talented crop of rappers up north.

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