Sole and The Skyrider Band – Hello Cruel World
In a genre filled with self-styled renegades and outsiders, Tim Holland – AKA Sole – is legitimately, ahem, ‘independent as fuck’. This, his first album since departing the influential Anticon label he co-founded, is somewhat of a primer on the myriad styles he has adopted over the last 15 years; but rather than the desperate cramming of everything into a bulging pot that such a gambit could entail, Hello Cruel World is executed with authoritative coherence and grace.
Since combining forces in 2006, Skyrider have consistently brought out the best in the Portland MC, now bringing a cinematically epic, synth-heavy brilliance to the mix on their third meeting of minds. Holland may have “more tools than [he] knows how to use,” but here he chooses them expertly – his newfound, precise and cutting flow is a moving painting of truth and injustice, flecked with confidence and optimism. An angry man with such precise channelling is a very powerful thing.
When neo-protest singer Ceschi and the astrologically wired genius of Noah23 join Sole for the stunning We Will Not be Moved, it encapsulates the album as rousing far beyond its lyrics. As a call to arms at a time when mainstream hip-hop is plumbing new depths of banality, it’s hard not to trust in Holland’s vision. [Ali Maloney]