Music Mystro

Low Life

e’s an ugly man, is Mystro. The cover of this album wisely decides to obscure his face behind lighting and his hands, whilst the photos on the inlay show him to resemble a grizzled centre-back in the reserves at Hull City, or perhaps Rushden and Diamonds. He’s got an ugly flow to with his mug as well, a slugging, cauliflower eared delivery, the type that Vitaly Klitschko would probably kick if he picked up the mic. His vocals are estuary to the extreme, you half expect him to offer you “Five gas lighters for a pound” halfway through the track. He makes Fallacy sound like a voice therapist. He sounds like he should be working on a fruit stall on a market, or maybe starring as Monkey Harris in a stage adaptation of Only Fools and Horses. He’s got a style that you beg your daughter won’t bring home.

And that’s what I want to hear really. Ever felt ripped-off that so-called “grime” doesn’t sound grimy enough? Mystro’s so grimy he needs Kim and Aggie to clean him. He’s been on the scene for a few now, first coming to attention with 1999’s 12” classic “Kiss That Arse Goodnight”. He made the wider listening world eagerly await an album with his guest verse on Blak Twang’s “Half N Half”, and ended up as much a feature on British mixtapes as shite cover art. And so this here is the debut, dropped on Low Life records. I can only assume this album is Low Life’s personal apology for all the crap they’ve forced on the world over the past few years.

Mystro comes from a battle background, and it comes across on wax. All lines are delivered crystal clearly, with punchlines shouted. Oddly enough, for a guy who earned his stripes battling, there’s precious little in the way of quotables. However, what the album does have are beats, beat-riding, and an all pervading sense of fun, a man who is clearly enjoying the spit, and it’s infectious.

Skip past the dreary intro (provided by Mr. “I Love 2001” himself Harry Love), and the album’s title track begins with Mysdiggi doing quite a fine impression of a public school boy speaking to an assembly. Ryan Stiles and Colin Mochrie got nothing on him. The track itself, along with “Yeah!!”, is a call-and-response heavy track that I’d bet a pretty penny kicks off the majority of his live sets.

As well as H. Love, production duties are also handled by Ginger Washington (potential single “Nutrition”), C-Swing, Blufoot (“Awkward Thief”, more on that later), and the non-shite Task Force, Braintax. Tha Tax also kick a few rhymes as well, posse-cutting it on “Free The Walls” and “Don’t Drag Me In”, acquitting themselves well, and randomly throwing a Shyne diss in there as well (remember Shyne? No? Me neither).

On “Nutrition”, a sparse-drum and squelch noise standout, he boasts that he’s “the reason why your Nike air-bubble’s worn out quick”, showing that he’s always got one eye on the dance floor (actually, both: it’s a party album). However, if the clubs don’t take to him, he could always carve out a career as a character comedian, if the brilliant “Cockney wide-boy has issues with contemporary rap” skit is anything to go by. Yes, I actually laughed at a skit on a hip-hop album. Now that’s a recommendation.

If “Awkward Thief” is anything to go by, then he can also add “tea-leaf” to his CV alongside rapper and comic. Built around the sort of lift-muzak xylophone cheese-beat that even Aspects would balk at (think Tony Hart introducing The Gallery). Punch-line heavy, Mys proceeds to discuss a number of situations in which he committed the act of theft, in a lovely breathy manner. He’s not a stick-up kid, he’s more stealth. Whilst the States has been taking inspiration from Tony Montana and Pablo Escobar, maybe the UK’s hero will end up being Fagin. And, reviewing the situation, maybe that’s not too bad a state of affairs.

Reviewed by: Dom Passantino

Reviewed on: 2004-04-27

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