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Riz MC MICroscope Review

Album. Released 2012.  

BBC Review

The equivalent of setting up a city-sized PA system and cranking it to maximum.

Adam Kennedy 2012

Given hip hop's topicality moves with such velocity that references in last week's hot record are often superseded come the following Monday, reissuing a record that originally saw the light of day over 12 months previously appears a tad futile. Quite a bit, however, has passed since the original release of London rhymer Riz MC's MICroscope.

In a parallel life, the man also known as Riz Ahmed has further enhanced his silver screen CV in Plan B's gritty flick Ill Manors. More pertinently, the London riots of summer 2011 kicked off. And it's hard to shake a suspicion that had this deluxe incarnation emerged a little sooner after those urban disturbances, Riz MC's fanbase might have expanded along with his vision, in a similar way to how Ill Manors (the single) further endeared the aforementioned Plan B.

The chief carrot for those who already gazed down the viewfinder of MICroscope first time around is a not-inconsiderable batch of remixes. These hand MICroscope over to a genuinely head-turning cast of up-to-the-minute producers, with half the results worth the admission alone.

Sukh Knight's refix of Radar smelts Ahmed's urgently paranoid interjections into a hemmed-in metallic hue somewhere between a Dalek and a medical voicebox. Ducking above waves of skanking reverberations, it reminds listeners where the "dub" in dubstep originated.

Grimy London crew True Tiger turn in wall-cracking bass climaxes that Skrillex probably imagines in his wildest fantasies with Get on It. Hundreds & Thousands bounces off a hip-snapping break from Zed Bias, pitch shifting down menacing, never-more-relevant anti-politician revolt-based vocals.

Later, Night Slugs man Bok Bok drags Dark Hearts deep underground, back a decade to a time when dubstep first crawled out of south London in all its formative minimalist glory. Often, only splinters of lyrics remain in these remixes.

The quandary here, though, is that Ahmed has pulled together a supporting cast with sufficient cutting edge that it comparatively endangers the razorblade impact of his original compositions. But as an exercise in reinvigorating interest in MICroscope, it's the equivalent of setting up a city-sized PA system and cranking it to maximum.

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