Often, the most rewarding albums you hear each year are those which come from out of nowhere. Not just without expectations but without warning, genuinely something from out of the blue an album which resonates with you from the first listen and actually infuriates you that you haven’t known about it before. Conscious Route and True Note, an Edinburgh-based MC and producer team, have released what feels at this stage like the best UK hip hop album of the year. It may even be better than that but give us chance, we’re still getting our heads around it.
The album is Lost Routes, an album which by any standards is heavily political but which comes from both a genre and a viewpoint which gives true validity to the lyrical content. This is not throwaway comment and sentiment but deep and sometimes savage insight, as heard on the Channel 4 documentary, Take Your Knee Off My Neck, which featured both instrumental and full versions of tracks included here.
Remarkably, none of Lost Routes comes across as sermonising or patronising. It’s incredibly real and doesn’t stop at lyrical cleverness, musically this is top-draw stuff (forget listening to a bank of loops and samples – there is a lot of live instrumentation on here), something you would expect from a major label release or at the very least someone who had a more developed background over a number of releases. We’ve gone back to relisten to the album a number of times and each listen opens up a new door – not a second is wasted (even the skits stay fresh!) although it’s very much an album of today, it already feels as though this is an album which is going to live and breathe for many years to come. Such a surprise and such a welcome one.
Conscious Route and True Note’s “Lost Routes” is out now on True Hold Records