As far as UK hip-hop releases go, 'The Sagas Of Klashnekoff' was pretty big, not to mention the success of it's heaviest track, the scene classic 'It's Murda' which to this day, crowds exhaust themselves shouting for whenever the rapper steps on stage. The rest of the album maintained the public interest, with big numbers like 'Jankrowville', 'Parrowdice' and 'Black Rose' amongst others. Then it all went pretty damm quiet. Besides from just a couple of rare guest appearances such as on the Genesis Ellijah album's track 'Gun Talk' which was in fact a polished up radio freestyle, there was nothing to be heard about at all.
Then all of a sudden word got out that a mix tape was on the way, and it wasn't that much of a wait so the quiet time thankfully was spent being productive. Out on Reprezent Management's new record label division of the same name, 'DJ Skully Presents Klashnekoff: Focus Mode' is an appetising taster of things to come, in particular the album 'Lion Hearts' which is a full album affair between Klashnekoff and producer Joe Buddah.
'Focus Mode' is a balanced mixture of tracks which use the familiar lyrics of tracks such as 'Zero', 'Black Rose', 'Jankrowville' and 'Jah Bless' over new music, and totally exclusive material such as the title track, 'Mr K-Lash', 'Channel K', and 'Revolution'. Some beats are jacked from the likes of The Game and Nas releases. There's also an intro and outro track and a few interludes.
Those tracks which revamp old material are enjoyable, but perhaps a little disappointing to the die hard fans who have been longing for new Klashnekoff material for a long time. Still, the beats are good and it's nice to hear a fresh take on older numbers we're all familiar with. The new material is solid, showcasing the flow and wordplay which has become the artist's signature sound.
As per usual, there are times when Klashnekoff's verses lurk too often in the area's of slang and rhyme, rather than sustained song topics/subjects with a sense of continuity about each bar of lyrics. However, considering that this release has been created in the same period of time that the real debut album has been worked on, you can't really fault it for not containing too many 'real' pieces of song writing which have hopefully been saved for what's to come.
Keeping in mind that this is a mix tape, and more of a 're-introduction' exercise, this is a top release with a healthy number of enjoyable moments which merit many playbacks. The reworking of 'Son Of Niya' is moving, 'Revolution' is food for thought and the bonus track by 'Terra Firma' which borrows from a recent Dead Prez track, is extremely impressive. Skully's involvement is a blessing of high quality scratching, mixing and beats.