In this untitled new series I take a deeper look at some of the gems and future classics released over the last decade within the UK music scene. Today we digest South East London’s finest – DIPS, a gifted emcee who in 2016, released a stellar project titled PHASES, one which in my eyes has cemented him as one of the best emcees in the country at the moment.
Spanning 12 tracks, the eclecticism DIPS brings to the table is something to be commended. The diverse production is handled by the following talented producers: Tuscan Whale, Bovice, Beau, Froyo Ma, Valentino Ayo, SEG, Melo-Zed, Thovo, N2Deep and Essien Dupree. With sounds ranging from Preemo-style production on “On & On” to Knxwledge & Flying Lotus vibes on “Interlude” and “Square One,” DIPS is given an impeccable selection of beats that provides a perfect soundtrack for him to exhaust his talents to the fullest.
As an emcee, he raps with vicious precision. His flows meander effortlessly through the instrumentals as his rhymes are clever and intricate. DIPS is a storyteller, as he tells straightforward stories of his upbringing and his current state of mind. Love, heartbreak, hardships are all prevalent throughout PHASES, which are themes that aren’t uncommon in music, but it’s the way that he delivers these subjects that make him such a captivating artist. On the self titled track “Phases,” Dips states the following:
“I got a blank canvas, I’m raising the wack standards,
The words since the African’s birth got black stanzas,
I was in the array looking for mad chakras,
Self doubt had a n**** drawing water from a cactus…”
What’s crazy about these rhymes is not only the imagery of being lost and unsure of oneself in regards to finding purity and peace, but it’s the way that he flows throughout, as his intonation of vowels that keeps the rhymes going. He takes a sound, whether that would be the vowel pronunciation of the word “black,” and he keeps that same tone throughout his songs, as goes from rhyme to rhyme so fluidly throughout this project. The track “The Ride” is an excellent example of this.
But back to the themes of the record, it is clear how fearless he is in pouring his heart out throughout his music, and coupled with his incredible flow and delivery, makes for a fascinating journey. “Square One” gives us an insight into a serious discussion, saying “life just hasn’t been the same since we swapped a rose,” as he goes over the difficulties of a relationship and falling back to square one, which is fitting considering the title of the song. It features Dani Sofiya, who plays the girl in the story, as her moody and emotive vocals really bring out the passion in the song. “No Sleep” featuring Mishael Lazarus is probably darkest and most emotive track on the album, as the chorus gives a sense of hopelessness:
“Lord please help me out,
Lord please help me now,
On my knees screaming I can’t take the world take me out,
Take me now,
I’ve been up,
No sleep what’s happening,
No sleep what’s happening,
No sleep what’s happening.”
It’s the repetition of the last line that really gets to you, and the verse especially goes deep into his thoughts and troubles. DIPS’ raw honesty about his darker thoughts is refreshing in a world where vulnerability amongst men is still seen as relatively taboo to talk openly about. It’s the way he enunciates the words that makes his rhymes captivating, and his quick, clever wordplay is what makes DIPS not one of my favourite rappers at the moment, but one of the best in the country.
You can listen to DIPS’ PHASES below via Bandcamp. Released via Rhythm & Reason.