North East emcees Rick Fury, Gilly Man Giro and Just B will be representing the region, and the UK, on an ambitious new album from Sektion Red that will feature rappers from 15 different countries across Europe.
In 2012 Sektion Red was established by Newcastle-based student Oliver Whitehouse, with aim of creating slick, high-end music videos for underground hip-hop artists. His venture quickly grew, taking him all over Europe to film with some of the most respected rappers on the continent. Six years on, inspired by his travels through Europe’s richly diverse scenes that saw him filming at vibrant live shows in Athens, police car parks in Latvia, incredible landscapes in Norway, and supermarkets in Ashington, Oliver wants to bring some of the best artists he’s worked with together for a unique album.
‘The Red Album’ will be released December 11th on limited edition red vinyl, CD and digitally, featuring ten brand-new tracks that Oliver will also be filming and releasing accompanying music videos for. The first single from the project, “Kustoms” featuring Datkid, Turan Khan and Sadomas (Prod. DJ Propo), has already been dropped. It brings the UK, Hungry, and Greece together and reflects the format of the rest of the track list; each track bringing at least three different emcees and producers from across the continent together.
Throwing the focus back to the North East, frequent collaborators Rick Fury and Gilly Man Giro find themselves back to back with Serbian barsmith Skabo and Greek spitter 12os Pithikos, on Richy Spitz produced joint “Preach”. Fury follows Skabo, coming with a juvenile sixteen calling out people that are ‘fucking stupid’, whilst evoking comically bizarre imagery referencing Bez from the Happy Mondays and “pissing through Aldi bags”. Giro’s delivery is starkly different from Fury’s; his deep, guttural cadence making everything he says sound dark, despite most of his bars just being about holidaying around Europe – a blunt nod to the concept of ‘The Red Album’. As you’d imagine… Skabo’s verse was in Serbian and Pithikos’ in Greek… so… I mean whatever they were saying it sounded hard, put it that way.
The ‘Ashington Underdog’ Just B then tests his lyrical metal beside Poland’s Matis and Latvia’s Ansis, on the Chro produced “The Big Lebowski”. Just B opens up this one right in the pocket of the smooth, soul-sampling, bass guitar led beat. However, it’s not long before he puts his foot to the floor lyrically, forgetting to breathe for about 15 seconds, delivering a mesmerising flow that you can’t help but wheel-back, before falling back into the beat to deliver the last few bars with a measured venom. Again, no idea what Matis was on about In his verse given he raps in Polish – aside from the one mention of the track’s title. However, the way Matis’ flow quickly segued from on-beat to head-spinningly fast and back again, was incredibly similar, at least stylistically, to the way Just B tackled this track. Ansis’ flow, on the other hand, felt a lot more monotone throughout; yet with this being the first time I’ve ever been exposed to someone rapping in Latvian, I’ve simply no idea how the language fits with the traditional English rhyme-schemes I’m used to hearing.
The ambition and ‘togetherness’ concept of ‘The Red Album’ is something to be admired, it really does feel like a one of a kind record. I guess the elephant in the room is always going to be the language barrier. For some people, this won’t be an issue at all; as long as the vibe is right then that suits them. I don’t like admitting this, but in my younger years I did enjoy a bit of Rammstein without having any idea what the weird German goths were going on about, it was just the dark vibe that got me. If I was sorting this album in a library, I certainly wouldn’t put it in the ‘for the general listener’ category, it’s definitely for the more hardcore European hip-hop head. Either way, after listening I felt like my eyes had been opened further to the sheer scope of hip-hop; it’s a reminder that everything coming out of each of these local scenes around the world is contributing to the global hip-hop community at large, one way or another – and I think that’s quite a nice thought.