Fliptrix Speaks From the Soul on ‘Mantra No. 9’ (Review)
27 Feb 2023
Fliptrix is someone who has been at it for quite a while now. Since his first full-length release in 2007, he has released nine albums. All of these have come from the well-respected High Focus Records, where he is the CEO. Whether as part of The Four Owls or on his own, he has made an impact in the U.K. hip-hop scene. This ninth project is aptly named ‘Mantra No. 9,’ which he has described as “finding freedom by reconnecting with nature.”
Currently touring this album on the road, it is a record that reflects on modern society and his place in the world. Having not released a full-length body of work since 2020, you would expect he has plenty to say. It’s quite a long record at 18 tracks and around 56 minutes long. But for the most part, it delivers as a Hip-Hop record and as introspection on Fliptrix the man and the artist.
Find our thoughts on the single ‘Primordial Soup‘ here.
There is a wide variety of producers here from Illinformed, Leaf Dog, Pitch 92, and Elliot Revell amongst others. Most material here fits into that classic sound or the boom-bap vibes of 90s New York. Instruments are interspersed nicely here whether the use of wind, xylophone, and brass on ‘Eden‘ or ‘Get Free‘ with its use of horns and brass, creating an A Tribe Called Quest vibe. Sampling is also important on a record of this genre and the producers here know what they are doing. The use of chipmunked vocals works when present, while there is a good use of Gustav Holst’s ‘Venus, the Bringer of Peace‘ on ‘SM58.’
Not every beat works. For example, ‘R2D2‘ feels a bit basic, while closer ‘Veil Of Reality‘ feels a tad empty and unfinished. However, for the most part, we have a cool variety of instrumentals that complement the artist well on this journey.
Flow wise we get a good variety with the smoothness on ‘So Clear‘ complimenting this reflection on his musical ability. This allows you to reflect on the content such as the effects of knife crime and his legacy. Other times he comes at the listener hard, such as the bouncy boom-bap of ‘Gratitude.’ He matches the beat nicely, giving his ‘Gratitude‘ to the pioneers of the scene and those who supported him. For the most part, he sounds nice on this record. But sometimes like on ‘R2D2,’ his slower rhyming of similar topics doesn’t go over as well.
There is a fairly big guest list and they all complement the album nicely. The Four Owls unite on ‘Reckless‘ and they all kick a** here. Leaf Dog’s production alongside the mixture of sampled voices such as Snoop Dogg molds nicely with the Owls. We also get some great lines like “Still stuck up in these ways like a tree’s roots.” The line “done a 21 gurn salute” is equally clever and humorous. It’s a great track where everything comes together and makes for an album highlight.
Even on tracks where Fliptrix isn’t at his best, the features do their job. On ‘SM58,’ Ramson Badbonez and Onoe Caponoe bring something fresh to the table. Fliptrix himself has plenty of insight to give, but his collaborators suit nicely.
Other highlights include ‘Eden‘ where lines like “I say no to the new normal cus dunno my soul is immortal,” hit hard his perspective on modern life. ‘Rhyme & Reason‘ fits the banger category to a tee. His lyrics come at you like a machine gun, a nice fit against the booming, halloween-esque beat. The penultimate track ‘Future Ain’t Provided‘ feels like a nice conclusion to the themes of the LP. Fliptrix reflects on the fact you have to go through pressure to reach goodness, finding your own truth, and seeing his son grow up. He also expresses his love for his wife and family, which is a cute moment.
While most material is pretty great, this project feels a little bloated and needs trimming down. ‘Veil Of Reality‘ which closes the project feels a little unnecessary and the flow just doesn’t match the instrumental. ‘Wanna Tell You‘ is affected by the sampled vocals kinda distracting you from Fliptrix’s words. The nasely flow here is also kinda average. This mixed in with an ok feature, indicate it could have been cut from the LP.
Making an almost hour-long album is a risk in a society with an ever-decreasing attention span. Yet on ‘Mantra No. 9,’ Fliptrix keeps you engaged. He has a lot to say about his views on modern society and his personal life. These are all told in a musically pleasant way and are interesting to dissect. He knows where to place features and who to call on to produce for the most part.
Fliptrix continues to show there is a place for pure, unadulterated hip-hop in the U.K. Whether in a live setting or on record, this MC will come at you hard.
Star Rating: 3.75/5