It’s always worth pricking your ears up when a hip-hop album drops which shows the producer’s name counterbalanced with the MC’s. These days cycling between multiple producers numerous times on an LP is commonplace, so when you see an MC and a producer come together collaboratively, the weight spread evenly between both names, you know you’re in for something special. Verb T remains one of the most prominent rappers in UK hip-hop, his lyrics are stormy, absorbing and his flow is endlessly malleable, fitting perfectly over almost any beat structure.
We’re not here to interview Verbs though, we already spoke to him last year, this time around it’s his partner in crime Illinformed who’s under the Cultured Vultures microscope. Together, they’ve just released The Man with the Foggy Eyes, already one of the most interesting albums to drop this year. It’s a tight, jazzy affair with the kind of sampling that sticks in your mind without ever being pervasive, much like Illinformed has been doing on his solo efforts for years.
Despite his impressive collaborative record (Jedi Mind Tricks, Rass Kass and more locally Brothers of the Stone), Illinformed’s production output has always shone the most, for me, when he’s taken the rapping out of the equation and doled out raw beats in released like Roll Up and Stay Sedated. With Verb T though, form has found function and the tendency of both of them to approach their art from a storytelling perspective has resulted in something really magical. We caught up with the man himself to talk about the album.
What inspired you and Verb T to make this LP?
I’d known Verbs for a while, but we never really made any tracks together (except for gifted on BVA’s album). I had asked him to get on my producer album, The Mould Tape and then around that time we decided to work on a project. We wanted to make something cinematic kinda like A Prince Among Thieves (Prince Paul) or Black Trash (Sticky Fingaz).
How did the writing process play out, by comparison to your other work?
Everything is different really, it’s been good working with Verbs, he’s a great writer and he has a crazy work rate. For my part I wanted to give this it’s own feel but still make it similar to the Brothers Of The Stone sound. I was working slowly on my producer album around the same time , that has a much darker sound in comparison and it’s more bass driven.
Both you and Verb are some of the most prominent members of the High Focus family, what’s it been like seeing the label blow up in recent years?
Yeah, it’s dope to see everybody making good music and people appreciating it.
Walk us through your beatmaking process, was it any different than normal for The Man with The Foggy Eyes?
I focused more on a jazz sound and a kind of blues influence, I sampled all kindasof music for the project but I had that kind of direction in mind.
Are there any samples used on the LP that you were particularly excited to use?
I like the way I fucked with the ‘Somebody Has To Pay’ instrumental, that’s got a different rhythm to it and lot of movement.
Sylvain Escallon’s artwork for the album is incredible, what was his involvement in the project like? Did you discuss ideas with him directly?
Yeah, we had the idea to make it look like an old movie poster, Verb had come up with the name so we kinda knew what we wanted already. We found a poster from an old film about Dracula or something like that and loosely based it around that. Sylvain did all the work though, he made the artwork for my producer album too.
Are there any other producers (or artists in general) that you’re really feeling at the moment?
Too Short, Baby D
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