Johnny Hardcore Johnny Hardcore

The first one of the Verbals to step up with a release, the self-titled debut by Newfoundland's Johnny Hardcore is all about hip-hop, flexing flows and skills, and occasionally getting down to some personal experiences. Verbals members MC Frank Deluxe, Lo-Fi and Jabba the Cutt contribute with raps, production and cuts, respectively, while remaining member Sho-One is strangely absent. Vocal appearances also come from Thesis Sahib (Bending Mouth), Jesse Dangerously, Jay Bizzy, the Butler and Matt Labatt; while the cuts are courtesy of Halifax's top DJ Skratch Bastid and Dertroad's Uncle Fester, with production from Dexter Doolittle, Kilgour and Labatt. Even with this many contributors, the album sounds like a whole and remains Johnny's moment. Hardcore's debut opens with his view on "The Hip-Hop Ten Commandments" before busting into the album's roughest, most banging track, "The Hardcore March." There's the always present posse cut ("Newfinloons"), an homage to Big Daddy Kane and Biz Markie ("Rhymin' w/the Biz," featuring Jay Bizzy), and "Rock 'N Roll Sucks," which borrows Schooly D's idea of using rock guitars over a song with a negative rock title. However, the best sales pitch for Johnny Hardcore's debut comes from Jesse Dangerously on the Hip Club Groove-influenced "Don't Flatter Yourself": "It's not like we hate rap, it's just that essentially we have a vested interest in seeing it done right." (No)