(New Dawn Records, out Fri 7 Jun 2019)
New Dawn Records are releasing four EPs to mark their relaunch after a 15 year hiatus. This is the third in said series of EPs, with the second being previously reviewed here. As well as being a part of the New Dawn Records relaunch, this EP is also a follow up to Belles in Monica’s Y’All in Meltdown (Lazarus EP Volume 1).
This EP features new edits of some of Belles in Monica’s most celebrated tracks. Many of these were released 17 years ago, like Smoke Filled Rooms which opens the album. Originally a vinyl release, these tracks have been given a remastering for the digital era New Dawn Records are entering. This is the first time these tracks have been released digitally and in the age of music streaming these “18 Edit” remixes offer something new for both old and new fans. Along with the “18 Edits” the EP has two instrumental edits. It’s a nice extra since these beats are heavy and work great as instrumentals, but really they just pad out the run time.
As for the hip hop crew themselves: Kruze, Red and DJ Dema (Belles in Monica) are a Glasgow group that saw a lot coverage in radio and press back in the early 2000s. Considering a majority of the EP is made up of re-releases, Natsukashii acts as an interesting time capsule. The flow echoes the 90s American lyrics that likely inspired Belles in Monica but despite this the crew remain very distinct in their delivery. Listening to Natsukashii is a treat for hip hop fans. The beats fluctuate between golden age hip hop and the electronica inspired production of the early 2000s, especially on tracks like Hip Hop which feels like Eric B. and Rakim by way of Glasgow.
Some may know Belles in Monica from their 2002 album Resistance is Futile but as New Dawn Records enters the digital age this will likely be an introduction to a new generation of hip hop fans. With a sound that stands out by today’s UK hip hop standards, this collection of golden age hip-hop inspired tracks are worth a listen for any hip-hop fan.