Smokey Words From the Missing

I prefer my British hip-hop gritty and grimy, and Smokey delivers just that with this "double EP” follow-up to his debut single "Road Zombies.” He’s best when he’s pissed off and bragging but Smokey is also versatile enough to paint a touching portrait of a girl sexually abused by her father and the consequences that follow on "A Life Hidden,” or his more clichéd diamond heist fantasy on "Price of Ice.” Smokey also invites along a number of friends, and in hip-hop the rule of thumb is the more guests on a song the more likely it is to be a braggadocio battle rap. And it just so happens that one of these tracks, "Just Add Water,” puts five MCs (Smokey and close collaborators the Phobia) over a dark, crushing, up-tempo beat for what is easily the album highlight. Smokey follows that with another strong contender, some warped funk illness on "Grittysides” with Kal Sereosz of the Phobia and also opens the album on a strong note with "Medicine Man” featuring Ironfingaz, a perfect intro track that has a little build into the song followed by rough rhymes and beats. Smokey and Bare Beats don’t slouch with the rest of these moody, dark beats either, whether they are smooth chill-outs or aggressive anthems. Words From the Missing is a quality debut that will hopefully acquire a bit of exposure on this side of the ocean. (Bare)