Nine years on from their last LP — 2008's All City — Western Australian hip-hop collective, Downsyde, are set to release their fifth full-length, ClassicILL, on December 1st, with the album available to stream in full from today via Rolling Stone Australia.
Across the 16-track release, the cipher-ready battle verses from Downsyde's trio of MCs cuts through an eclectic and energetic jam-band palette, as the group circle their boom-bap format with everything from jazz injections ("Back in the Game") to unashamedly glossy hip-pop ("Memory Lane") to frantic-paced soul ("Hunger Inside") to quirky DJ Quik-esque g-funk ("I'm Very Glad") to even an unlikely, yet successful, merge of orchestral drama and blues passion ("Richman").
A scrapbook approach that centres around the album's highlight — 10-minute opus, "Life is Music", which oscillates between an anthemic call-to-arms and an all-crew mic pass, featuring guest spots from fellow left-coasters, Layla and Drapht, as well as a posthumous verse from Hunter, who sadly passed away in 2011 following a two-year battle with cancer.
Never dull or complacent, ClassicILL captures both sides of the group's unrestrained free-flowing format and air-tight production, equally touching on the far reaches of their vinyl collections (funk, soul et. al.) alongside an upbringing fuelled by a mid-school diet of peak Tribe Called Quest and Rawkus Records, where the lyrical elasticity and purpose are the spotlight throughout, yet enough mind is paid to the surrounding parts that it never becomes simply a display of emcee abilities. A refreshing and welcomed return.