Best of: Hip Hop Cyphers

Big Pun, DMX, John Forte, Canibus, Mos Def & Mic Geronimo


This is one of the most organic cyphers with big name artists to be found online. You can tell that if even if the camera wasn’t there they would still be sitting around the table showcasing their skills sets to each other.

Best verse: Big Pun

Schoolboy Q, Isaiah Rashad, Ab-Soul, Kendrick Lamar & Jay Rock


Everyone on the Top Dawg Entertainment label spits a verse over Mobb Deep’s ‘Shook Ones Pt 2’ instrumental. Kendrick Lamar stole the show when alluding to his beef with Drake at the time. “Things ain’t been the same since they dropped Control and tucked a sensitive rapper back in his pyjama clothes”.

Best verse: Kendrick Lamar

Mos Def, Black Thought & Eminem


What is most intriguing about this cypher is how unlikely it would be to hear these three emcees on a song together, making this a special moment for themselves and their fans.

Best verse: Mos Def

Rakim, KRS-One, Eric Sermon, Chubb Rock & MC Serch


One of the few ciphers to feature actual freestyling, this was recorded in 1995 to mark the end of MTV’s landmark hip hop show, ‘YO! MTV Raps.’

Best Verse: KRS-One

Yo-Yo, MC Lyte, Naughty By Nature, A Tribe Called Quest, Fu-Schnickens, CL Smooth, Guru, Das EFX, Wu Tang Clan & KRS-One


Even though it may have been Arsenio Hall’s last show, you could never tell in this, as he sits at the side of the stage beaming from ear to ear while the biggest names in hip hop at the time close out his show with one of the greatest cyphers of all time.

Best verse: MC Lyte


Interview with Scroobius Pip


UPDATE: The Sligo date of the tour has been cancelled by the promoters and replaced with a gig in Kasbah Social Club, Limerick November 21st.

With the recent announcement of a Speech Development Records tour, we spoke to Scroobius Pip about what you can expect from the night. The tour is set to hit Cyprus Avenue Cork November 19th, the Workman’s Club Dublin November 20th and Roisin Dubh Galway November 22nd. Here’s what Pip had to say about his independent record company and the upcoming tour.

What was your motivation for starting Speech Development Records?

Initially it was simply to release my own music. And then, gradually, I’ve lucked out on getting the chance to release some amazing artists! From relative unknowns (at time of signing) like Jackamo Brown & warrenpeace to established names like Sage Francis, B Dolan & polarbear. The beauty is that everything I’ve got to release I’ve been a genuine massive fan of. So I just sit there feeling lucky.

Do you find it strange to be in a position now where you are promoting artists instead of the other way around?

I enjoy it. It’s nice to realise how much I’ve learnt when it comes to promo and the like over my years of self promoting. And it’s really exciting to be doing it for something I’m a fan of rather than something I have made myself. I mean, OBVIOUSLY I’m a fan of my own stuff too…haha, but it feels different.

What can people expect from the average B Dolan/warrenpeace sets?

You can expect WAY above “average” for starters. Dolan has supported dan le sac and I numerous times on tour and we literally haven’t had a single tour without him that wasn’t awash with tweets and questions of why he isn’t here and when he’s coming back. Basically, he is one of the best live performers in hip hop today. Engaging and entertaining.

And, as for warrenpeace, they’re a ball of energy and rowdiness. I saw their live show for the first time last year and was blown away by what they brought to the stage with just two of them up there.

It’s gonna be a GOOD night.

What is your role in the show? Can we expect a short performance from yourself or are you exclusively acting as the host?

I’m gonna be all over it!

I will be hosting but will probably kick the show off with a 10-15 minute spoken word set. Then I will be guesting at points with both warrenpeace and B Dolan. And I will be DJing. And jumping on the Merch stall. I will be unavoidable.

Sage Francis is also gracing our country with a performance in October. He is known for having a notorious live show, can you share any of your experiences from seeing him live?

I remember the first time I saw Sage live. It genuinely inspired me to start doing this. It was at a tiny venue in London called Plastic People and he literally stood on a chair and did the whole show right in our faces. Since then I’ve seen him around 10 times and been blown away every time. He only made it out to Ireland for the first time a year or two back so this definitely isn’t to be missed.

Finally, try sum up the Speech Development tour with 4 words.

Come pretty, leave ugly.

Tickets for the Speech Development Tour are €14 and are available from and Ticketmaster.

Best Of: Musician Movie Cameos

Plenty of artists have made the transition to becoming actors over the years. Some just decide to make a brief appearance mostly for comedic value. Here’s 5 of the best musician cameos:

Jack White in Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story


The White Stripes front man appeared in Walk Hard, a film about fictitious music star Dewey Cox, as the king of rock n’ roll, Elvis Presley.

David Bowie in Zoolander


David Bowie makes an appearance in Zoolander to officiate the ‘walk off’ between Ben Stiller’s Zoolander and Owen Wilson’s Hansel.

Snoop Dogg in Half Baked


The Doggfather has popped up in several films over the years, but none were as memorable as his brief role in Half Baked as ‘the Scavenger Smoker’, or “someone who has no weed of their own”.

Alice Cooper in Wayne’s World


Alice Cooper’s live performance in Wayne’s World is only topped by his lecturing of Wayne and Garth on the origins of the city of Milwaukee. It also taught us how to act when you meet when your favorite artist, get on your knees and proclaim you’re not worthy.

Alanis Morissette in Dogma


Perhaps the most challenging role on the list, Alanis Morissette was enlisted to play God in Kevin Smith’s Dogma, proving once and for all that “God is a woman”.

5 Hilariously Bad Hip Hop Album Covers

Rap music has given us some unforgettable album covers. A child resembling Biggie on Ready To Die, the white-masked Wu Tang looking particularly eerie on 36 Chambers or Dr.Dre’s homage to Zig-Zag rolling papers on The Chronic. However, there has also been a lot of terrible ones. Here are some of my favorites:


Sometimes you just have to wonder if Photoshop was just invented when these were released. This cover is almost as bad as the title, ‘Doin Thangs’.


Silkk the Shocker has clearly just made an extravagant purchase and wants you to ‘Charge It 2 Da Game’.


This is a more recent one and it reeks of as much cheese as a lot of Tyga’s music.


Ludacris clearly loves chicken and beer. Throw in a woman’s leg to the mix and you’ve got an album cover.


This is pretty self-explanatory. Take a minute to fully appreciate what’s going on in this picture.

Mobb Deep, Voodoo Lounge 1/8/14


Just under two years ago it was uncertain if the two members of Mobb Deep were on speaking terms. Prodigy was just finished a 3 year prison stint for weapon possession, during which Havoc had been tweeting argumentative statements, claiming his associate was “gay for stay”. With such a heavy gangster reputation surrounding the two, this could have been career ending. However, following their impromptu reconciliation they released The Infamous Mobb Deep in April, to coincide with the 20th anniversary of their second and most critically acclaimed album, The Infamous.  In many ways their new material is easily comparable to their live show as both only give you a small glimpse into how good Mobb Deep actually were.

The levels of anticipation and excitement were raised to an almost hostile level during an extended wait for the group to appear. Usual hip hop crowd-pleasers from the DJ were not met with the joyous reaction that is to be expected. After being promised an 11 o clock performance, it looked as if it may not happen at all and rightfully so, the crowd grew restless.

Just after midnight Havoc and Prodigy both appear on stage in a cloud of smoke to perform a frankly dull rendition of the classic, ‘Survival of the Fittest’. Energy levels from the two are raised during ‘Taking You off Here’ & ‘Say Something’, showing they still have the hunger to try to win over the crowd with the more unfamiliar new material. It is surprising that quite a few older songs don’t translate very well to the stage. The once venomous ‘Right Back at You’ falls flat as they must cast aside their laidback, murderous flow in order to be heard on the microphone.

With their previous beefs, along with Prodigy being diagnosed with sickle cell, it is a huge surprise to see the group perform together. All things considered, it was not a completely lacklustre performance. Obvious encore ‘Shook Ones Pt 2’ provides a brief insight into how a mid-90s Mobb Deep show might have felt, which was more like the best house party you’ve ever been to, rather than a slightly disappointing night out.

-Ross Logan

Dilated Peoples – Directors of Photography


During an interlude on the reunited Dilated Peoples’ new album Directors of Photography, member Evidence name drops The Alchemist first on a list of influences. While the Los Angeles based underground hip-hop group was able to get the legendary producer to appear twice on the project, Evidence and DJ Babu’s production on the majority of the tracks seems more of an amateur rip-off than respectful homage. Eight years after the well-received 20/20, Dilated Peoples went into the release of this album hyping up the production. Unfortunately, too much focus seems to have been placed on it, and when it fails to deliver, the lack of focus on lyrics and inconsistent themes hurt what could have been another solid underground release.

Bearing the title Directors of Photography, the album had a lot to live up to in terms of thematic elements. And for the first third, you start to believe it will come through on that promise. Opening tracks “Directors” and “Cut my Teeth” sound as if the group is scouting locations to shoot a film in Los Angeles. Detailed descriptions of the different districts of the city are spat out at an alarming rate, with strong dramatic drums and keys in the background. “Good as Gone” arguably does the best job of connecting to the theme, with jarring samples of 1960’s sci-fi and lyrics referencing Hitchcock and Eyes Wide Shut. DJ Babu hits his stride later on in the album with “The Reversal”, similarly featuring a clash of sounds throughout the track with a very matter-of-fact delivery by Evidence and Rakaa.

Unfortunately, there is the generic slog that is the middle third of the album. Typical boom-bap beats play in the background, and even the passionate delivery on tracks like “Century of the Self” cannot make them interesting. “Show Me the Way” features painful punchlines from Evidence (who gives Rakaa the strongest rapper in the group title by default), and the overuse of scratching as well as the constant cliché “rep my city” songs are tiresome. The mostly instrumental “Figure it Out” is probably the best self-produced song on the album, yet the vocals that are begging to be brought on are nowhere to be found. Evidence and DJ Babu seem intent on adding something to the mix that turns an otherwise great beat into a disappointment (Dial-up sound on “Opinions May Vary”, looped vocals on “The Dark Room”).

By the time the album reaches its closing tracks, it starts to get back on board with the photography motif. “Trouble” may be more of a conscious rap, but Rakaa drops some great metaphors related to acting over a surprisingly nice vocal sample that gets chopped up later in the track. The Alchemist track “L.A. River Dance” is another L.A. rep anthem, but Evidence’s best verse on the album makes it the best in that category. By the time album closer “The Bigger Picture” has tired you with its obnoxious vocal loop, you’re left wondering why more revision wasn’t done on an album that took years to make. Overly long and full of hits and misses (spectacular bonus track “Hallelujah” was a crime to leave out), Directors of Photography may just be suffering some growing pains from a group that’s been out of the picture so long. There’s enough good in this project to remain optimistic about their future, but enough glaring flaws to have some concern as well.


-Taylor Pope

Artist of the Month: Bishop Nehru


17 year old New York native Bishop Nehru is the definition of a prodigy. After starting to produce and rap at the age of 13, he released two mixtapes. Nehruvia showed us the ear that he has for old school hip hop by rapping over Madlib, MF DOOM & DJ Premier beats. StrictlyFlowz showcased his incredible rhyming ability throughout.

After making a huge impression on the likes of Nas & Kendrick Lamar, he shocked a lot of people by announcing that his next project would be a collaborative album with the elusive MF DOOM, titled NehruvianDOOM, which will be released September 23rd.

With a lot of pressure and expectations resting on his shoulders, an album with DOOM will not only push him further into the limelight but also gives him a chance to learn from one of the best rapper/producers of all time. If that isn’t enough to win you over here’s a quote from DOOM on Nehru: “Emcees are born. You can’t make an emcee out of somebody who has never been born to do this. It’s innate talent. I can’t really give advice to another young master.”