There’s a movement currently breaking waves throughout the UK’s undercurrent of music culture, a Hip Hop movement steadily boiling to a point of bursting, scolding every one with third degree drum kicks and hazy samples. At the forefront of this bubbling sound is High Focus Records, a UK Hip Hop label set up and run by a man they call Fliptrix. Having spent the past seven years independently building his UK Hip Hop empire, touring beyond borders and pushing careers, South London emcee/label honcho/work horse, Fliptrix, releases his 5th studio Album Polyhymnia to an inner-city gaggle of buzz, expectation and high standards. As an artist, the excitement for Polyhymnia alone looks set to push Fliptrix even closer to the peak of the UK Hip Hop sound. The whole affair is handled with such professionalism - a well-focused attribute, consistently present throughout the entire High Focus catalogue that has helped build the labels reputation as the UK’s highest standard.
The name “Polyhymnia” derives from Greek mythology, from the story of the 9 Muses in particular - 9 Goddesses of the inspiration of literature, science and the arts. Polyhymnia, unsurprisingly, is the Goddess of sacred poetry, a Goddess who “brings distinction to writers whose works have won for them immortal fame” - this level of concept is something Fliptrix deals with so well and immediately sets his work above that of the mediocre, by-the-numbers UK Hip Hop album. Themes of the 9 Muses are present throughout, adding layers barely found in other independent productions. It’s a tool used expertly by Fliptrix, another dimension of thinking that pushes his work to an artist’s level of professionalism, leaving doubts of another ‘run-of-the-mill, having-a-go-at-it rapper’ far behind, and solidifying his ever growing fan base for a forward thinking musical aficionado.
From its introduction, Polyhymnia enforces its expectations by setting straight off with Jeheeze, a banger playing on Flipper’s now trademarked catchphrase with a shouted hook, bringing ‘Mash Out Posse’ levels of madness to its compounds and spraying its listeners with hyped bars and quick rhyme schemes. In the form, a short two and a half minute burst of energy, it acts the perfect introduction to what Fliptrix is capable of lyrically - “See me heating up a rave, I’m leaving speakers all blown/bleeding from cones, critics say I’m in a league of my own/cos I freestyle harder than your teeth are your bones/I make the crowd scream Jeheeze, speech dripping in gold…” - Utilising slick similes and a rolling bass line covered in dusty speckles, with soulful samples being the secret ingredient, Jeheeze sets the standard as Polyhymnia wishes to go on. Setting the tempo so quickly from the get-go could have been a mistake, especially with a sub-genre so often denounced by outsiders as being one dimensional, but the remainder of Polyhymnia only acts to nip this thinking in the bud.
9th October 2014 By BOBBY SIMCOX
Fliptrix - Polyhymnia
Tracks such as Praise the Sun roll in. Prefixed with a Rag n Bone Man hook, fitted to utilise the soulful gravitation of his vocal chords, Praise the Sun pulls the energetic bounce of Jeheeze to a more down tempo affair as Fliptrix lays out his feelings for the creator of all things, throwing in self-reflective metaphors for good measure. Polyhymnia, the album’s title track becomes an ode to music. It’s a love letter to the Greek Muse, written by Fliptrix, expressing its impact on his life and what it means to the entrepreneurial emcee. Commentaries on the current musical state are also included, referring to the mainstream’s treatment of it as “prostitution”. These commentaries are where Fliptrix’s lyricism really excels. Not only is the poignancy on point with every bar, the structured way in which they are employed means they never become tiresome or too preachy. There isn’t a constant hammering of opinions; instead they are littered at points throughout the album, leading to an openness with Flippers style where he doesn’t have to be pigeon-holed as a conscious rapper, and it becomes just one of his talents, one of the reasons for all the critical acclaim. Here Today Gone Tomorrow carries on with this lyrical artistry – “In the city needing deep space pronto, bun the PO-PO/and the kids shouting YOLO, cos they don’t know/where the soul goes, it’s solo/affecting how the game goes, like settings on a console” – it continues through tracks such Lean Star Gazer, Polyhymnia’s first single, Vultures and Alchemical Vessel, with the latter also providing the impulsive rhymes of industry legend Chester P.
Reflections, Polyhymnia’s 9th track, is a Four Owls staple. Featuring label emcees and the other three ‘Owls’ from Fliptrix’s crew, Verb T, BVA and Leaf Dog, it acts as a bare bones ‘94 banger, giving each emcee a 32-bar passage to showcase their skills. Set amongst a swirling concoction of soulful sax samples, loose piano keys and an inspiring off-skew bass line, Reflections radiates flavours of early Wu-Tang Clan and their 36 Chambers, handling every element with the right amount of panache. In terms of production, Fliptrix sticks with what he knows best, investing all faith in long-time collaborator, Molotov – a decision that on the whole is an excellent one. There are times the beats fall in favour to Fliptrix’s razor-sharp lyricism, although these are beats becoming second fiddle to the musings of a rapper who has done nothing over his years but improve, so when on the rare occasion a beat falls flat, it is easily excusable. But these moments are few and far between, and with tracks such as Going to the Moon, where a more leftfield beat is thrust to the forefront, making expert use of semi-cut samples, all faith put into Molotov’s beat-making skills pay off. Also, referring back to the aforementioned Reflections and its straight, spirit of ‘94 head nodding beat, any musically engineered amalgamation that recalls the 36 Chambers is a massive achievement. Molotov also shows his diversity with songs such as The Message - a much more down tempo affair, utilising electronic sound-bites more akin to progressive ambient dub than UK Hip Hop, expertly crafting a common ground with haunting piano strings throughout. This only compliments Fliptrix’s ability to adapt to the beat, leaving a difficult, more abstract approach needed from the emcee. An approach terrifically executed as Fliptrix rides the leftfield wave perfectly, hugging every beat, moving in rhythm with Molotov’s articulate placement of kicks and snares – it almost makes for Polyhymnia’s standout track. But I’ll leave that decision to you.
Coming as Fliptrix’s 5th full studio album, Polyhymnia dances around the hype thrown at it with ease, portraying one of the highest musical standards in the UK that shows no sign of letting up. For an artist to have such a body of work already in his urban portfolio and a massively successful independent record label that continues to set a bar every prospering emcee aspires to achieve, you can’t help but wonder what’ll be next for Fliptrix and his crew of Hip Hop heads making a scene. If the whole execution of Polyhymnia, from concept through to production, mastering and marketing, is a sign to go by, then the future will surely be epic to mythological proportions.
'Praise The Sun' Feat. Rag N Bone Man: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8-cmkSn1IN8
'Here Today, Gone Tomorrow': https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FO_KrKQo0Ik