There’s perhaps nothing more exciting as a music fan than a hook up between two (or more) of your favourite artists (McCartney, Ye, Rhiannon anyone?). Though there’s clearly risks involved (everyone falls out, the end result is career damaging, etc) the opportunities for exponential results when strong, independent, artists come together is a mouth-watering prospect.
Having both built a reputation for strong, individual, outputs within the Northeast Hip Hop community, the combination between Newcastle’s Max Gavins and Sunderland’s 90BRO (collectively known as ‘Rumaz’) may be as interesting as it gets. Both exceptionally talented in their own rights, their first combined single, 2018’s IANAN (Free Man), was an early indication of the sonic possibilities they could achieve when they put their beats, wit and lyrics together.
It may have been a while coming (we’ll get to that) but the wait has been worth it; debut album ‘Songs in the key of hype’ being a grimy, heavy, combination of old school grime cyphers, modern trap and dub reggae basslines that mix to create an old school, block-party, record. As it turns out, this was a collaboration that well surpassed their individual artistries.
“This has been a long, long, time coming” confirms Gavins when we catch up “it may even be nearly 18 months since the album was complete but because we’re such fans of each other and each other’s work, and because we are so proud of the album, there was no way that we were going to release this in the middle of a lock down when it couldn’t be heard live.”
“I’d agree” confirms 90BRO on a break from a studio “we had an idea for an album of bangers and hype and wanted to create something that held together as a party, hype, collection. This wasn’t coming out when people weren’t able to get hype”.
Recorded in as much of a live style as possible (“we recorded live and also wanted to back each other, and then hype each other, so it has a real live sound” confirms Max) Songs is as much a hype album as it is perhaps a symbol of northern-ness and an expression of the local scene. “I think we, and this album, are unapologetically northern” clarifies 90 “we’re as proud of being northern as we about this album, and we wanted our energy and dialects to be a part of who we are which is individuals who are proud of this work, proud of who we are, proud of the scene and proud of who we are and where we come from”.
Checking across a variety of sounds and styles, Songs may well be an early contender for Northeast album, let alone hip-hop album, of the year; both artists seemingly fully committed to the sound, feel, energy and narratives of the end product. And with such a party album it’s easy to understand why Rumaz would wait until people could really enjoy it; “the hype is real and the rumours are true” 90 confirms as a send off “we’d like to thank everyone from the North East scene who helped us and helped in some ways with the final album. This is our best work, there’s more coming, and when you work with Max, and his beats set the standard, you’d better be spitting something good. And we do. And we’ll continue to.”
Hype by name. Hype by nature.
“Songs In The Key Of Hype” will be released 10th June 2022.