Following the thunderous success of their debut EP, “In Spite Of Everything”, released in early February this year, The Book Thieves are back with a solid, vibrant LP to put to their name. The UK hip hop duo, consisting of London’s very own Legoman, and Oxford’s Ol-e Mac, provide consistently remarkable wordplay throughout all nine tracks, complimented by the finely tuned production of Sam Zircon, Harry Caine, and numerous other features, who all combine to make a firmly resounding release in the scene.
The LP kicks off with“TBT”, a track you cannot help but nod your head to from start to finish. Legoman kicks the LP off, laying down a solid flow, with consistently clever punch lines, setting the bar high for the rest of the release. Ol-e Mac manages to meet these standards with ease, while the watertight production of Harry Caine, complete with steady basslines and piano chords oozing with reverb, work to acquaint listeners to the LP, leaving them hungry for more. The second tune, although entitled “The Cellar”, has a vibe quite unlike cellar I have ever entered. Its upbeat vibes instantly remind you of the positivity and love, which are often forgotten elements of modern day hip-hop. Sam Zircon’s orchestra like production combined with the crowd warming vocals of both mc’s, work to create an easy going, amable atmosphere.
These positive vibes are continued onto the next track, “Beauty”, where the production by Apophis instantly takes you to what seems like a hypnotized state of mind. The muffled Miles Davis-esque piano loop is paired with equally relaxed light snares, next to a firm bass drum. Legoman and Ol-e Mac work to provoke your thoughts through deep wordplay, contemplating a contemporary issue in our society – what is beauty? “Beauty” is very reminiscent of a breezy summer’s day, enticing listeners to lose themselves in the music. The following track, “Ticking Clock Part 1.” roughly awakens you from the easy going, chilled sound of the previous one. Legoman’s introductory verse lays down the voice of a youth long forgotten, evoking the sheer power of his lyricism, as he expresses his anger regarding the way the world turns, due to decisions made by the older generation. Throughout the track, bothmc’s put down ridiculously rhythmic flows, which could be compared to UK greats such as Foreign Beggars and Split Prophets.
The LP strolls on with a noticeably reflective piece of lyricism, entitled “Lessons”. Bagul’s tight production, consisting of a steady paced 4/4 loop, provides an excellent backdrop for both mc’s to drop verses reflecting upon fairly stable childhoods, which on the whole seem to be filled with love and support, and elaborate on how this stage in their lives set them up for challenges which they may face in later ones. The sing song hook is a pinnacle feature of this piece, helping to display the melodic qualities possessed by Legoman, helping to distinguish him from many other modern day mc’s. “Lines” is to follow with Sam Zircon’s distinctive production fusing subtle, yet spooky, omniscient piano chords, with a steady drumbeat. Both mc’s manoeuvre around all angles of this beat with incredible precision, creating a progressive sound, reeking of attitude, which could be compared to that of the rapper/producer Leafdog. Their verses are separated by a small spoken sample, along with highly executed scratching, allowing this track to stand out as an elegant masterpiece.
The seventh track, “Live Our Lives”, has a vibe that would not seem out of place in a New York 1960’s jazz bar, thanks to Harry Caine’s unique use of the saxophone, working in combination with a steady bassline. It links back to the recreational, party sounds that were present in “The Cellar”, with yet another resounding hook, evoking the more relaxed side of the duo, creating a track that would help to kick off any weekend. “Smiles And Cries”, is the only tune on the album with additional vocal features, delivered by Illiterate, from Concept of Thought. This is yet another thought provoking work of art, portraying what hip hop has done best throughout the years – wave a middle finger at society. If The Book Thieves had not made their views clear previously, then “Smiles And Cries” does that in all entirety, as they portray their anger towards the government, due to its lack of action in key issues in modern day Britain, and its catastrophic role in the war in Afghanistan. Illiterate’s airy tones, and elegant wordplay, blend in nicely with The Book Thieves, working to create a moving, socially inspired track.
The final song on the LP, “Blur”, uses an instrumental produced by Apophis, oozing with electronic, ambient synths to ease you out of the LP, leaving you in an entirely different state of mind, as they take you back to reality. The Book Thieves evoke further reflective lyricism, showing their deep views on the world around them, and leaving you in awe at their level of talent. Immense wordplay is just one feature of this release, and its prominence is truly shown after listening to it back to back with their debut EP, “In Spite Of Everything.” A real sense of lyrical progression is evident, while thunderous production on all nine tracks works in combination to createa solidaddition to any UK hip-hop head’s collection.
Review By Max Meres