High Focus head honcho Fliptrix is synonymous with the sound of UK Hip-Hop. Boom-bap beats, piano-laced melodies and not to mention his intelligent, multi-syllabic bars have made him a colossus on the UK scene. Inexhale represents a continuation of this sound, a journey into the depths of his consciousness that wends a path through space and time. From the hard-hitting to the therapeutically conscious, the expert lyricism is backed by a supporting cast of Chemo, Molotov and Joe Corfield who craft a deep soundscape that perfectly compliments this almost spiritual journey.
The sound of this album subtly evolves as we progress through and the producers change. The first third or so, produced by Chemo, is equal parts eerie and mesmerising, venturing at times towards the melancholic. ‘Too Close to the Sun’ is a perfect example of this, the urgent snare and bassy, resonant kick supported by deep, chimey synths and the occasional vocal wail. On the hook Fliptrix spits the bars “time will heal all who suffer” and “first saw white light, now see colour”, the delivery along with the beat sound pained, but positivity in the face of adversity is the message that shines through, both here and throughout.
‘No time to rewind’, the first of a run of tracks produced by Molotov, is an archetypal Fliptrix joint; backed by a simple drumkit beat supported by some restrained brass and a plucked bass his laidback flow is melt in the mouth as he eulogises about how to live life the right way. “The rainforest getting massacred we need to save it/ It’s like our planets in the passenger seat/ of a suicidal drivers car going fucking fast with no license/ drunk and high off drugs popping like a fire hydrant” is a four-bar that has it all: rhythmicity, wit and a message approved by your mum.
On ‘Thriller’ not only do we see yet another side of Fliptrix, but he calls in backup in the form of UK Rap legend Skinnyman. The two of them take a turn each over a Joe Corfield instrumental that’s given beautiful depth by the vocal sample around which it is anchored. The keys and syncopated kick drum add a layer of eeriness before Flip flexes his considerable rhyming skills whilst describing the days spent honing them: “Up late night writing, Brixton cyphering/16 years of age with a fake/ID to the bouncer hyping/After the show go train line writing/couldn’t give a fuck if it’s rain or shining/ Ever since young done ‘nuff freestyling” – pure talent. Like all the features on this project (Coops, Carmody, Ocean Wisdom, Onoe Capone, Jammz and Capo Lee being the others, and not a bad lineup it is) Skinnyman’s doesn’t disappoint, and he’s not lying when he says “Fliptrix got Skinnyman back on the case/ That’s how the tings set, so watch me set pace”.
With Fliptrix, you might know what you’re getting but you never know quite what to expect. On this project, as well as the keen consciousness and sharp lyricism, we are treated to everything from Carmody’s butter smooth hook on “Flying”, a track you can literally float away with a zoot to, to a stone cold banger in “Catch Banter” assisted by two of the illest Grime MCs right now – Jammz and Capo Lee. Beats, bars and a generous helping of wisdom make this one a 4/5. Check out Catch Banter below and go listen to the album on your favourite streaming service, and make sure you let us know what you think!