Wednesday, September 03, 2008 | Posted in ,,,,

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Phi Life Cypher is a British hip hop group based in Luton and signed to the Zebra Traffic label. Life and Si-Philli are the MCs and DJ Nappa is the DJ and producer. The group has toured with and appeared on tracks by Gorillaz and DJ Vadim.

1. Intro
2. Abc
3. Rhyme Of The Times
4. BBC
5. Racists
6. Drop Bombs
7. Take Heed
8. Verbal Wars
9. Phi Life Phi Life
10. Last Men Standing
11. Fatcats
12. Herbaholics
13. Phi-Life Is Here
14. Bring It To Ya
15. Bad Men From The West
16. Class A Material
17. Crazy Balheads
18. Millennium Metaphors
19. Shining

Okay, I'm British myself, but I would be the first one to admit that UK Hip Hop sucks ass. I don't mean to shit on it, but that's the genuine truth in my opinion. We do have a few producter merits such as DJ Krytonite who has produced for Creative Juices, and there's Quincey Tones who produced tracks on Little Brothers acclaimed Get Back LP and for Silent Knight's Restoration but as far as rappers go....meh. I look at my favourite emcees (all American, naturally) and there are no British emcees that even begin to compare (please don't ask me what I think of Dizzee Rascal because I will cry. Grime? Don't get me started on that). The one exception to this is right here... Phi Life Cypher. A veteran British Hip Hop group consisting of Si-Philli and Life (the emcees) and DJ Nappa (the DJ and producer) and hailing from Luton (yes, Luton!), UK.

Millenium Metaphors is their 2000 debut album, released on DJ Vadim's Jazz Fudge label and is their best work to date and features additional production from The Creators. Life and Si-Philli are a shining of example of two emcees who just RAP THEIR ASSES OFF. Everytime they appear on wax, they are like sticks of dynamite that have just had their fuses lit. To put their stamp on the album, straight off the mark they burst onto the scene with ABC, a track with a similar concept to Blackalicious' Alphabet Aerobics, except with extended verses and without the graduating tempo increase. Si Philli: 'I'm a rampant radical renegade who'll rapidly rupture your ribcage; Rip up your rasclart like a rabid rottweiler on the rampage; I reckon my raw rapping rhythms will give the Rza rheumatism; Representing reality rhymes releasing righteous realism'. LIFE: 'Suffering succotash I'll slash and smash and snatch ya stash; I'm splittin science so sharp and deceiving, shaving your 'stache; Schizophrenic schematics with static inside my sternum; Super sporadic savages scavenge around my sermon.' Peep the video below and be blown away!

It's evident that they have criticism for 'the system', in The Racists they talk of racism being institutionialized in public bodies such as the police force and the stereotypes attributed to black men: 'I'm feeling frustation from this subliminal segregation; And organisations that's funding the race hate federation'. They are also critical of things like healthcare, taxes, government policies and the hierarchical system in Fatcats. However, in Rhyme of The Times, they also show disdain for the youth who 'cross over' the line and commit street crime, selling drugs etc, ackowledging that this does nothing to better our communities: 'Madder than Caesar, kiddies be turning into trigger squeezers; Stickin ya for ya wallet for your credit card or Visa; They're ready to beat ya, they're like creatures without compassion; They're smashing ya for your cash jst like it's going out of fashion.' (The featured emcee on this track, Coma, I've not heard of before but he actually spits a tight verse too). It's politically relevant, even today, and it's all shit that we have seen with our own eyes or experienced in our own lives.

What I love about this album is that the beats are ill but they're not over the top. They always take a back seat to the emcees allowing you to really hear what being said, and you kind of need this because both emcees have a rapid delivery: Si Philli 'My style strips your teeth enamel, the animal coming like a cannibal; Lyrically flammable with dramatical mathematical; Skills, niggas be writing wills when I spill; I'm leaving their bodies stiff like I be Viagra pills; Killing at will I'm on a mission; Diminishing any competition with the precision of surgical incision; The verbal Bunsen burning scorching torching niggas to sinders; I'm dropping so much shit you call me butter fingers; I smash your windows will the style I'm kicking; When I'm pissed I'll slit your hand off at the wrist and see your fingers clicking.' On Drop Bombs, Life and Philli flow VERY nice over a more old skool beat and peep Life's wordplay on some well known artist's names. Herbaholics is their weed song where they justify it's use (it might worthwhile to mention here that they are Rastafarians so the track has a different level of importance). It's not one of those 'let's get high' songs either, they still make valid points like it's widespread use and the law' overreaction to to it. Conversely, they vocalize their own experience with and their disapproval of harder drugs on Class A Material.

What really gets me is that they both rhyme quick - once in a while this is to the detriment of their flow as it seems like they're trying to squeeze too many words into their bars (only occasionally though! - but yet they get their point across clearly, they always make sense and they are often making valid points. All this while delivering some truly astounding lyricism, clever metaphors and rhyming. Good gawd, the rhyming. Also, the British accent isn't too thick (think opposite of Dizzee lol), and in some ways it's easier for them to put together rhymes if they add a slight US twang to some of their words. Plus point, it has more appeal to markets outside of the UK. Production-wise, as I said, there's no overkill.. Nappa just provides some good, solid beats which allow Life and Philli to commit verbal homocide on them. A personal thing of mine is that I absolutely love beats that have scratching all over them, and on Millenium Metaphors, the cuts come in abundance courtesy of Juliano and First Rate, which add that authentic flavour.

Trust me on this. Every track will have you like 'dammmnnnn' at the lyrics, I shit you not and you know me y'all, I ain't bigging them up because they're British, if they were wack I'd call it. But if someone were to ask me to give an example of a UK Hip Hop artist I'm feeling, they are one one act I think represent. Peep the vids below if you wanna check a couple songs before downloading!


Phi Life Cypher - ABC

Life MC - Freestyle 1/4

Phi Life Cypher - Herbaholics