In recent times, we have seen a resurgence of positive, upbeat hip-hop inviting the opening of chakras, minds and dancefloor expression. Thankfully, Jack Danz x Sk!nt have arrived in the nick of time with the antidote for all that with their new E.P. Delirium. To an outsider, the UK hip-hop scene may superficially appear to be about motivational quotes, bad poetry and still wearing LRG hoodies. However, for a long time a different sound has been bubbling under the surface, relying on slower beats, drums compressed to their most thumping, guttural essence, rattling bass and bars revelling in the sheer pointlessness of it all. This is a style perfected by Trellion & Sniff from Sheffield and Defenders of Style from Leeds, and it is from the Defenders camp that Jack Danz brings his inimitable doomsday style, providing both beats and rhymes for Delirium, joined with sedated glee by Sheffield's Sk!nt. The duo find a twisted equilibrium on this collaborative release and it's enough to make naïveté and DC trainers dissipate almost instantly.
Delirium manages the feat of sounding like elephant tranquilizers but still packed with enough punch to knock your head about cartoonishly for a bit. It begs the question of how lethal the strike might be without sedation, so perhaps the medication is a matter of public interest. The E.P. is densely packed with esoteric film cuts, eerie samples and carefully chosen phrases thrown out with carefree abandon. Both rappers rap like there's a La-Z-Boy in the booth but with enough conviction to verify the the authenticity of each claim, it's an interesting paradox. Jack Danz flexes without flexing throughout, drawling uncontested claims of greatness and drawing from a deep well of references through a thick, impenetrable fog. On the track "Dorothy", he breaks clear.
"Can't leave the cat alone
I'm Fibonacci with the patterns yo
Sipping on the red rum no tally-ho
Smoking on the murder, got a gang of crows
Tom & Jerry Tom geriatrics
They were sliding in the ends I went ahead and backflipped
You ain't getting past it, Lionel Messi hat-trick
Watch me pen a couple classics, I'm Terry Pratchett"
Discworld bars do not abound in the hip-hop world, and this is mostly due to fear. Jack Danz is indifferent to this fear, and this will hopefully influence a wave of more creative choices than the endless wave of Game of Thrones or Marvel references. One can only hope. Sk!nt stays a menacing presence on Delirium, spitting with singular focus and a youthful world-weariness to give each track a sense of urgency to escape the swamp. His flow stays blunted but razor sharp, betraying a world laying beneath where braggadocio is the only currency.
"Move round some animals, I'm comfortable
Stay out of my comfort zone but never am I vulnerable
Active if its fundable, act like you ain't huntable
Might just catch you slipping, having you chipping to the constables"
In a world with a sci-fi dystopia anxiously peeking round the curtain, the worldview shown in Delirium is pretty spot on, or at least can be interpreted as such, which is what art is all about anyway. Jack Danz remains one of the most celebrated hip-hop producers in the UK and in Sk!nt he has found a hungry upcoming artist to bless with some of the most aggressively relaxed beats in rotation today. Confused by many of my seemingly contradictory statements? Grab the album here to clear it up.