I think if I were to describe the archetypal UK hip-hop artist it would be this guy; Dr Syntax. I first heard him on Asylum Speakers, the Foreign Beggars’ debut album which was released in 2003 (it’s incredible, check it out).
Four years on Syntax released his first LP, Self Taught. The album set the tone for his style of rap, which generally avoids gangster themes and focuses on the minutiae of British life. One of my favourite tracks has to be Subcultures, a track which I can certainly relate to having encountered a bewildering variety of styles, fashions and let’s face it, rather strange people, in my life and country. In his own words “Where have all the normal people gone man?!”
Dr Syntax, AKA Syntax, Sinners or Benny Huge manages to sum up British culture in a well-delivered fashion whilst incorporating the sincerity, humour and intelligence that we are supposedly known for. His second album, Benny Huge, was a bit of a let down for me although it has some standout tracks. Thankfully however, he recently released a free mixtape which rekindled my enjoyment of his work. It includes Subcultures Pt. 2, an update of the classic original. You can download the mixtape here: http://drsyntax.bandcamp.com/
He’s also due to release a new album with Manchester jazz troupe, The Mouse Outfit, who released this incredible track with Manchester locals Dubbul O & Sparkz. Can’t wait for that one!