British MC, Joker Starr has released his debut album, ‘Blood-Ren’ on Flukebeat Records. Already gaining airplay on UK radio, the Slough-based rapper has called on a tight-knit yet impressive array of guests to help him launch his debut, including Micall Parkinsun, Sonny Jim, and Genesis Elijah, with production by Jehst, Scratch Professor, Apatight, Sound Species, and more.
Those outside the world of UK hip-hop may not know too much about the scene, which has been bubbling away for decades, yet continually grows in composure. Of course, there are a few names that have travelled further afield over the years, such as Tinie Tempah, The London Posse, Estelle, Roots Manuva, and Dizzee Rascal. However, it could be that UK Hip-Hop’s relatively low-key status has allowed it to blossom without the spot-light of commercial over-exposure, creating a confidently home-grown appeal.
Confidence is certainly present on Joker Starr’s debut album, as he opens with ‘Celebration,’ which will leave listeners wondering whether they really just heard him call out Jay-Z in a rhyme? Word-play is certainly high on Joker Starr’s agenda, as he skips over the bars with abandon, all in his strictly British accent. Style-wise, Joker Starr’s flow is reminiscent of the likes of Roots Manuva, sprinkled with a little Mos Def and topped off with some added street swagger.
Switiching subjects throughout, Joker Starr pays homage to the ladies on, ‘Caramel Fudge’ in a manner seldom heard since Raekwon The Chef’s classic, ‘Ice Cream.’ Elsewhere, he delivers a fine, honest tribute to Michael Jackson on, ‘Mic Jack,’ and decries the commercialization and lack of skills in hip-hop on, ‘Too Many Not Enough.’
Production-wise, this release sticks to its guns in a manner that is rare these days. Instead of following commercial trends the beats maintain their own course across the album, yet somehow deliver a coherent feel despite the number of producers. Whether it is choppy, claustrophobic sound-scapes, or more relaxed, funk-fuelled fare, Joker Starr reacts to the beats with ease.
In short, this album is not just another easy-to-pick-up, easy-to-put-down collection of the same-old commercial touches, and with that said, it may take more than one listen to fully crack. However, just as The Wu-Tang Clan’s debut album, ‘Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers),’ changed and challenged perceptions before helping bring hip-hop back to New York in 1993, so could this album push for the UK. Joker Starr’s debut defies the odds in delivering some genuinely refreshing hip-hop to the masses while, at the same time, changing the game and staying true to itself.
Available digitally now, ‘Blood-Ren’ will see a physical release on June 25th.