Pique Roscoe, hailing from North Manchester, first burst on to the local scene with his single Pass Me the Bat, a spacious old school sounding hip hop beat with Roscoe’s instantly recognisable cutting delivery. This is something that we would see Roscoe recreate with his debut LP Visionz of the Phantom. Some two years on from his debut, Pique Roscoe returns to the booth to bring us his sophomore full-length release The Cruel Tutelage of Pique Roscoe on Village Live Records; A 17-song clinic on lyricism and delivery over crunchy, sample-heavy boom bap production from MPC extraordinaire Kuartz, available now on all streaming platforms.
From the outset and throughout, Kuartz expertly produces the canvas for Roscoe to paint with his rhymes. The production and beat selection on this project is incredible, it suits Roscoe down to the ground and his comfort is resonated through the delivery of his bars, sounding effortless at some points on the LP. With this being said, Roscoe never sounds complacent, always focused; on Sovo, one of my favourite cuts on the LP, Roscoe really shows off the relaxed yet still concentrated style he possesses. Kuartz also massively delivers on this track, with dry snares, dusty sampling and a tastefully plucky bass loop reminiscent of something off The Infamous.
Roscoe’s emcee repertoire allows him to not only spit fiery, gritty punchlines but also catchy hooks where necessary. In Token Jazz Hour, Roscoe gives a minimal, laidback hook that adds a smooth groove to the tune and a tasteful contrast of the rough textures of Roscoe’s rhymes. Other tracks however, don’t need hooks, sometimes when you have the sonic profile of Roscoe you just need to spray bars for 2 minutes straight. Supermodels is a real standout in this regard, rhyme schemes and flow remain dynamic throughout the 2-minute rap masterclass. Roscoe, and Kuartz behind the boards, really flex their musical muscles with this cut.
The features on this thing really contribute towards the intended sound of the album. Bxrbarian brings us a cold and sketchy verse on Wolf Venom, an eerie and atmospheric effort that perfectly suits the erratic tone Bxbarian brings. Vitamin G held his own on Ya Zimmie, even providing a choppy hook as well as a technically orchestrated verse. Roscoe also resumed his continued work with Statik, a turntablist Roscoe worked with on his previous LP. With Kuartz and Statik involved with production, Roscoe is really allowed to be creative with his wordplay and flow delivery.
I could really pick any of the beats on this project as a standout but Tell Me really takes the cake, that pitched up vocal sample is just nuts. The obvious influence from 90’s boom bap goes deeper than sonics, one of the things I enjoyed most about this LP was the warmth of it. It seems like vinyl/wax was a huge driving concept in this project, from the tracklist being segmented into a Side A and a Side B to the subtle crackling at the start and end of tracks. It all comes together to create an old school sounding record that has enough originality to make you want to keep listening.
A refreshing Manchester rap project in an oversaturated sea of trap and drill releases, Roscoe and Kuartz really did their thing. I look forward to seeing what they have in store for next year, whether as a duo or solo.
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