Pass The Aux 006: Max Gavins

Throughout August 2017, TheRootMusic is celebrating hip-hop and grime scene in the North East of England as part of ‘Local Music Month.’ As part of this we have contacted a range of artists, DJs, and other behind-the-scenes individuals to ‘Pass The Aux’ and express some of their personal favourite music releases.

The latest person to step up to Pass The Aux is Max Gavins. Max is a rapper-producer, mumble rap connoisseur and co-host of the Monthly Mumble podcast with myself and 90BRO. Having recently released his highly anticipated album ‘1994’, Max has been highly active in supporting local artists lately so its interesting to some very recent picks in this Pass The Aux.

Rick Fury – Wor Kid
Whenever anyone asks me to show them some Geordie rap, this is the first song I go to. It’s brash, unrelenting and unashamedly North East through and through; trademark Rick Fury from start to finish. Witty and beautifully simple punchlines delivered with inch-perfect timing and one-liners that can paint a Sistine-sized canvas for me make Rick the best to ever do it in the region, and one of the best rappers I’ve ever heard. I could have picked any of a number of classics from the South Shields MC, but I promised Hawthorn I’d try and keep to a one-song-per-artist limit, and Rick’s swagger and delivery on Wor Kid just personify everything that is good about not just Mr Fury, but North East rap as a whole.

Text Offenders ft. Sonnyjim – You Don’t Know
Three Words: Punchlines, punchlines, punchlines. I got given this CD by Esyoube (now King Hippo) after my first ever battle in Exi Park, and when I got home I listened to it and it blew my fucking mind. For me they were right up there with Rhyme Asylum in terms of straight up lyricism and punchlines. It was just relentless. “With more lines than Agatha Christie, battle is risky, like drinking a gallon of whisky lacking a kidney”… and that’s BEFORE we even get to the incredible Sonnyjim verse. That album had some big name UKHH features and it was a classic of that era in my eyes. It’s so good to see King Hippo back with Legion of Goon.

Dialect – Laygate To Vegas
This is not my favourite Dialect track (although it is still a banger), but it has to go on this list for the simple fact it was the first time I had ever heard a North East accent on a rap song. I got handed a flyer for an upcoming Wiley gig coming out of seeing Dizzee Rascal at the Academy and it had a few local acts on it. Top of the list were Dialect and the link to their MySpace. I remember just thinking “What… the fuck…. Is this….”. My mind had been well and truly opened. From there I discovered a host of other people who were active in the scene at that time. Without that flyer and without Dialect I’d probably still be rapping in an American accent in my room thinking I was the only person in a 100-mile radius that rapped. So if anyone dislikes me or my music, don’t blame me, blame Dialect.

The Projekt ft. Rick Fury – Livin My Life
“Went from living on the edge to on the edge of fucking living”. What I loved about the Projekt was their ability to be dope on any kind of track they put their minds to. When you pair that level of lyricism with beats supplied by the monster of a producer that is Sermstyle, the results are just incredible. No one at the time, or since, has made the kind of music that they did as well as they did it. I virtually learned to rap in Rekon’s basement and they all taught me so much and introduced me to so many artists who I now count as some of my favourites. Although not as active as they once were, whenever any of them drop a track I listen to it straight away because I already know it’s going to be great, and I love what Rekon and Sense have been doing recently, going in a whole new direction that again, they take to like ducks to water. I can’t wait to hear more music from them.

90BRO – The Reckoning
90 is probably the most intelligent rapper in the North East. When requiem 4 a sceNE came out, I had this song on repeat constantly. To the casual listener, 90BRO might just seem like a rapper with amazing flow and sick bars, but dig a little deeper and he is constantly dropping straight-up knowledge. This track I think shows his ability to pair the most contemporary sounds in hip-hop with the consciousness and intelligence of so-called “golden age” MCs. The problem with a lot of conscious hip-hop is that it isn’t exciting enough from a musical standpoint, but 90 combats this beautifully with his beat selections and flow, showcased no better than on this absolute thunderstorm of a beat.

Just B – Villas Again
Just B man. The guy is undeniable. His flow is second to none and listening to one of his projects almost make YOU run out of breath. Simply unstoppable on a track, the amount he packs in to one verse just has to be applauded. Not only does he pack a lot in, ALL of it is dope. Villas Again I think is a prime example. The 30-second intro absolutely does not prepare you for what is about to come. An total onslaught from the opening line, I would defy anyone to go bar-for-bar with B in this kind of form.

Rex Regis ft. Enya Jade – Are You Ready?
If you want a straight up, hip-hop anthem in the North East, look no further than Rexy fuckin Regis. I’ve shared a couple of stages with Rex, and it’s so easy to make his live set good. He just has those neck-snappers that get everyone in the crowd moving in some way, shape or form. Are You Ready is a perfect example. The simple, catchy rap chorus (which Rex is a total master of), the crashing drums, the spit-in-your-face delivery… Rex is a force to be reckoned with at the worst of times but when he gets on a beat like this? Fuckin hell.

Smooth Jezza – Mike Legend Saga Pt. 1
I’ve always felt like Jezza is one of the most accessible rappers in the SceNE to those who might be unfamiliar, which is weird because his rapid flow might make it difficult for outsiders to catch some of what he’s saying. Despite this, Jezza’s vibe is just sick man. His videos, choruses, flow and aesthetic are always incredibly on point, as displayed on Mike Legend Saga pt. 1. You just get the feeling Smoothy knows exactly who he is as an artist, and when you’ve got Theorist giving him beats like this he has full creative license to just go ape on every tune.

Eum – G o g h
Thank god for ObsceNE. Not only has it brought together a host of heads who haven’t had a regular night to go to for years, but it’s introduced them to people like Eum. This brilliant 90BRO-directed video for me is reminiscent of the first time I saw visuals for Yonkers by Tyler, The Creator. It’s the kind of thing that will make people go “who the fuck is this, what the fuck is this music, and how can I have more of it”. Eum’s bars range from abstract, to ridiculous, to vulgar, to hilarious, and it makes for incredibly entertaining rap music.

Dap CEO ft. Smooth Jezza & CAFF

Okay, so I produced this, but that doesn’t influence my choice here. It’s a difficult thing to do a group track on subject matters such as this one, but all three of these guys smash it out of the park. I love the way all of the verses just build in anger levels and then CAFF comes in in typical CAFF fashion and just goes brilliantly ballistic on it. If a beat is only as good as the people that rap on it, this must be one of the best beats I’ve ever made.

So I know this has only just come out, but I think it deserves a shout out. Eyeconic has a really sick vibe and the way he finds pockets in this beat with his melodic flow is masterful. I appreciate the boldness to do a track like this, and when it comes off it’s a beautiful thing, so shout out to Eyeconic for doing exactly that.

One for the heads. It’s well documented that I generally prefer the more melodic side of rap ahead of quote-unquote “real hip-hop”, but sometimes, just hearing someone rap good is all you need. This track is someone rapping very very good. Ken is a legend and this tune for me solidifies his place as one of the best rappers to ever come out of the region. Tongue-twisting line after tongue-twisting line, Kenny makes complex writing and flow look effortless, as he always does.

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