RATING: 3.5 out of 5


The Krate Krusaders (TKK) are a production duo hailing from Plymouth, UK. Formed of 1step and Bad Habitz, these guys have a sound that could be compared to anything from DJ Shadow to Herbaliser to K-No to Vadim in his soundscape mode.

TKK's first offering is a freely downloadable LP called Krate Krusaders Vol 1 - Uk Connect which in their own words 'features vocals from some of the uk's
finest MC's both established and up and coming".

No doubt this is music for grown up folks, with dusty breaks, and crispy drums breaking through samples spanning from Jazz, to Blues, to Soul to some Bluegrass tones!

The LP begins with an instrumental soundclash called 'Krate Krusaders Live on the mpc's'. This 5 minute masterpiece easily competes with the aforementioned namesakes. With flawless cuts and seamless blends this is a great introduction and proves the capabilities of 1step and Bad Habitz' production skills.

Track 2, featuring Remus, is an out and out attempt to retaliate against the after affects of the previous generations wars and outright racism. The track, aptly named 'Respect You Elders' has an incredibly long winded intro with some geeza trying to sound old, and consequently sounding constipated! It's a shame, as the strings sampled in the background work perfectly as an introduction. However, that said, once the instrumental flips and Remus, the Taskforce affiliated Highbury native, gets going this turns into a powerful collection of bars. The end line sums up the overall feeling of the track with the repeated statement "You Only Get Respect when it's earned". Fair point really!

Onto the next track "Vex Is Dead". As with most of this project, the production can't be doubted, so we'll focus on the features for a minute. Vex is given a hard beat to rhyme over, granted, but his flow doesn't match the quality of production on display. The lyrics are vulgar and graphic to say the least. The highlight comes in the first verse with a witty combination of rhymes playing around with the names of Transformers.

Notable features include People's Army heavyweights Kasha and Logic on "Stronger'. Combined with a nicely crafted soulful backdrop as ever these conscious lyricists offer up strong bars and easily keep up with the pace and quality of TKK's instrumental. Halfway through the track flips, and adds yet another dimension to an already strong tune.

For those lovers of Triple Darkness, Klashnekoff and Jehst, Ramson Badbones offering ('Incredible") is a dark and moody soundscape proving that he can ride even the simplest of beats and turn them into solid tracks.

'Life's A Grind" sees Bournemouth rhyming veteran Fenetik, a previous collaborator with Badhabitz, gives a no frills track explaining his daily grind. Of course this has been done before, but Fenetik's second verse is surprisingly refreshing. Listen out for the Bournemouth native mimicking ODB...Classic!

Other notable lyrics come courtesy of UK vets Clarity, Farma G and Cappo on a track called 'Pscience'. With perfect wordplay, this eery joint flutters from emcee to emcee perfectly, quickly leading you to rewind to catch the metaphors. Another nice all round track is 'Nowadays' featuring Banana Klan member Ahmos. This incredibly talented and underrated North London based rhymer invests time in meaningful and subtle lyrics, which a simple yet very effective concept. It feels like every bar is drawing you into Ahmos' view of the World. This is a great ending to a dope project jam packed full of talented lyricists.

On a personal level the stand out track of the project is 'Torment' featuring Crucifix. Quite why I'm not sure, as Crucifix's flow isn't perfect, but his presence on the beat and honesty makes a Baby J-esque Boombap / Soul banger.

One thing about this project which pulls every track together is the Pete Rock / Sound Provider style outros, chopping up unrelated breaks to create a nice breathing space between each musical offering. Even if your not feeling a track, flick to the end and you won't be left disappointed.

There are no flops on this album, which is a rarity in UK Hip Hop, but no doubt there are a few tracks which could have potentially benefited from different choice of Emcee.

The Krate Krusaders are definitely a force to be reckoned with, and should be watched closely. The eagerly awaited US connections project will be an interesting flip for the duo. 1step and Badhabitz are definitely talented and intelligent producers who have serious respect for their art-for.

Reviewed by Vice

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