Dips & Lo-Wu just rolls of the tongue so well, and the quality of their music makes this duo something truly special. The London-based group offer something truly unique to the world of hip-hop and garage music, and an album / mixtape has been something I’ve been anticipating for quite a long time. For those who don’t know, Dips is a skilled emcee that has released some of my favourite albums, including his incredible 2016 project Phases. His flows and rhyme patterns over the years have been so great, and he’s really transformed into one of the most skilled and exciting emcees making music today. Lo-Wu on the other hand, is one of the most forward-thinking, futuristic producers making music today. Drawing influences from garage, hip-hop and electronic music, his sound is unlike anything I’ve listened to. The rhythms, the differing beat arrangements, his ability to create absolute neck-breaking bangers is what makes him quite the talent. Together, as simply Dips & Lo-Wu, they have combined both worlds together in quite an incredible way. Idle Hands is the result of incredible hard-work and dedication to the craft. Knowing them personally, I can tell how ambitious they are in their journey, because they have sheer belief in themselves that what they are building is destined for greatness.
The project kicks off with probably my favourite song on the mixtape, “Trip.” The beat on this one is heavy! Wobbling basslines, snares, grooves and rhythm that feels like it comes from some futuristic video-game track. As the track progresses, Lo-Wu adds incredible and mellow keys, vocal samples and Dips’ effortless poetry and flows on track. It’s too short of a track, if I’m honest, and if I had to critique one thing, it’s just that, I really just wanted it to go on. “Take Off” is one of the singles released prior to the release of the mixtape, and sets the tone for something more colourful and dynamic. The jittery synths and, complemented by the infectious beat makes for a hypnotic listen, as Dips rhyming about the meaning of hustle and always working towards something bigger than himself (love, having a significant other that understands his perspective on life). His introspections make for an engaging and interesting listen. On “The Ride II”, which is a follow up to “The Ride” off Phases, continues that theme of hard work and the grind, moving on through hardships and mental struggles. The soulful, groovy beat is met with atmospheric synths and keys that add a colourful melodies. “Queen of Hearts” is one of my favourites too, with a fast paced bass-heavy beat, incredibly engaging grooves that just flows perfectly. “Active” featuring Lex Amor is another gem, with a usually impeccable guest verse, and a jumpy, soulful, incredible beat. “BSL” featuring Mundu is the feel-good summertime jam. Mundu kills it with an infectious hook, and the synth leads that capture this colourful, dance-heavy melody. Dips’ sung vocals on “Lost” are soothing, with this slower-paced, atmospheric beat that sounded suited for a ballad. Gorgeous saxophone leads come in too, it’s super soulful and jazzy. The beat switch within the track is incredible. The guitar leads on “Kreepa” featuring Moses Dey are soulful and melodic. Dips’ introspective raps about his mental state, insecurities and vulnerabilities is genuine and beautiful, and Moses Dey’s passionate vocals (both are brothers), makes for a touching, moving and relatable track Dips & Lo-Wu have ever done. A true poetic and musical masterpiece, I think this really cements Lo-Wu as one of the very best producers working today. “Idle Hands” is a track geared to the dancefloor, with a jumpy beat and light synths that keep the energy alive. Dip’s thoughts on taking himself back to 2015 experiences with friends and family, reflecting on a lighter time in his life. “Concrete” featuring The Melman is this crazy, trip-hop, dub inspired tune with incredible vocals, and more reflective lyricism about growth, hustle, and optimism for the future. His incredibly varied rhymes and flows are just stellar throughout the entire mixtape, and the whole experience of just having introspective rhymes and crazy, out of this world production.
Dips & Lo-Wu have now created a new bar of excellence with this project. Idle Hands is a stellar body of work that captures the essence of UK hip-hop and garage music. Through creative, dynamic, futuristic production and personal lyricism on mental health and state of mind, Dips & Lo-Wu have produced quite a memorable body of work. Go support!