Album Reviews

ILLBaz & Melodownz & Raiza Biza – High Beams

Sam Smith
Live Stream (feat. TEEKS). Directed & Filmed by Connor Pritchard.

One noteworthy hip hop offering from New Zealand is a collaborative affair featuring three of Aotearoa rap’s biggest kings in the form of MC’s MeloDownz and Raiza Biza and renowned producer and DJ ILLBaz. Titled High Beams, this seven-track EP is their first together and sees them busting out the gate putting the local scene on notice.

High Beams Itunes 3

High Beams is an eclectic mix of smooth, chilled out beats, jazz samples and solid rapping which sees MeloDownz and Raiza Biza’s strong vocal chops combining nicely with ILLBaz’s talents as a producer on superb tracks such as Major, Outchea and Run Away.

The trio also call on some of Aotearoa’s best musicians to feature as guests both past and present. This includes the amazing talent of TEEKS, who takes the lead on the excellent lead single Live Stream. The soul singer delivers a silky smooth vocal performance over some horn samples and jazz-styled beats in what is arguably the centrepiece performance of the EP.

Then there is the house-tinged Red Wine featuring Auckland electronic musician HIGH HØØPS on vocals and New Zealand hip-hop legend Che Fu taking the reigns on the beat-heavy Sky High. Both artists deliver excellent performances highlighting once again how there is no substitute for a good feature on a rap album.

New Zealand hip-hop is in a healthy state at the moment, perhaps the healthiest it has ever been. The local scene is currently bursting with creativity with so many quality acts repping the style hard with some terrific music.

In conclusion, High Beams is a terrific first-up effort from this collaboration signifying the amazing depth of talent in New Zealand rap. The landscape has become so competitive over the last few years given the quality of music being released, however, it is album’s like this that will ensure other artists continue to lift their game and rise to the challenge laid down here.

High Beams will released through Sony Music New Zealand and distributed through The Orchard on 20 July.

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Released: 20 Jul 2018

Written By: Sam Smith