Ash The Author / Ded Tebiase - APEX
Reviewed by David Taylor
Label : Village Live
Ever since ‘Extra-terrestrial’ dropped earlier this year I have been eagerly awaiting the release of this project.
I rate Ded Tebiase highly and his production seems to make the perfect pairing to Ash the Author’s flow as can be seen on ‘Yeah’ the previous feature from Ded’s 2017 album ‘Landspeed’.
The production on ‘Apex’ is soaked in analogue warmth. Every kick, snare and sample sounds like it’s been recorded to tape, re-recorded, manipulated and tweaked then re-recorded yet again to add that crispy lo-fidelity heat; I can’t get enough.
Something about the tone of Ash’s vocal seems to cut through the mix and it sits on the warm analogue beats with incredible clarity.
The album has a real tight feel and there is definite benefit in this being a sole producer/emcee collaboration; the chemistry between the two knits the whole thing together nicely.
The album opens with an eerie film sample and some spaced out atmospherics that set the mood well for opening track ‘Poisonous’. This is a mellow affair that rocks along to some lovely low-end sub bass that sits under a head nod beat laced with some vibey key samples and a looped up distorted vocal sample.
‘Mr. Murphy’ features dope cuts by Evil Ed and more warm bass notes that set off another stripped back boom bap kick and snare beat. Each verse makes way to a scratched chorus which makes a wicked arrangement.
‘Delirious’ is a firm favourite. Ash’s vocal is wrapped around a wicked twisted bass sound that Ded Tebiase has got to work on with the effects unit and this flows on another head nod inducing beat.
I can picture the duo smashing up a live set with this track. “I hit the spot like a free taste of free bass, everybody make some noise for my DJ’ it’s lines like this in Ash the Author’s verses that invoke images of a rowdy crowd throwing up their hands in appreciation at a jam and these call to action rhymes sit so well on Ded Tebiase’s beats.
Ded sounds like he has just graduated with a first-class honours in cooking up the dopest boom bap beats with a style and sound that instantly takes you back to the golden era. This pairing with the eloquent diction and ample bravado of Ash’s raps just makes this album so listenable and it seems to get progressively better as it moves on.
Heavyweight kicks and snares are the staple diet for ‘0118’. This has one of the strongest hooks on the album as Ash spits a contemporary tale on the irrelevance of a post code in the Rap game.
‘Hedonism’ is another deep vibey track with a dope beat on a nice percussion loop. Ash the Author’s vocal centres on tales of debauchery “I’m a stay sipping on imported wine, head spinning like a forty-five” must be my favourite line on the whole album!
I’m always a fan of a track about digging and ‘Pure Gold’ is a stellar example. Anyone with an ear for production will pay homage to the drums on this track with a crispy snare so hard in the mix it could cause whiplash! Ash’s flow is effortless as usual and the lyrics about paying homage to the culture represent the ethos of this album to me. The track features signature atmospherics from Ded Tebiase and stands out as one of the strongest on the album.
‘Transmit’ has a huge bassline front and centre in the sound, accompanied by yet more delicious head nod beats from Ded. I really dig the lyrical content again with more references to maintaining and respecting the culture “everybody getting down on the cardboard, I bleed, sweat and cry for the artform”.
What works so well about this album to me is that the tracks are raw and stripped back enough to let Ash the Author’s vocal take the lead but there is also enough attention to detail in the use of samples and atmospheric sounds for the music to feel layered and complex.
The production, rhymes, artwork and the videos that go with this project are all of a very high quality and hats off to the artists and to Village Live for adding yet another remarkable LP to the current wave of consistently good releases that are coming out of the UK Hip Hop scene in 2019.
Ash and Ded make one hell of a combination and I only hope that there is more material to come.
Order link: https://villagelive.bandcamp.com/album/apex