Wizard – On The Bench Review

‘On The Bench’ is a project from hip-hop/grime/trap producer Wizard. Released by SBTV, the album features Wizard’s production with a range of rappers from around the world applying those killer vocals and hooks. Artists featured include JME, Lunar C, Foreign Beggars, Owkerdz, Cruger, Ceezlin, Joker Starr and many more.

Wizard, based in Hastings, has been an artist I have personally been following for just over a year and when I saw this project had been announced I was keen to listen and see what new ideas Wizard had been laying down with vocalists at his disposal.

Wizards individual style of powerful lead kick drums & side chained sub-bass-lines layered with multiple samples and slices are what set him aside from other producers in the UK scene and places him amongst the top dogs currently producing music.

The first track we hear on the album, ‘Changes’, has been vocalised by Leeds based MCs Dialect & Matter. Since both artists have featured frequently on UK Rap Battle League “Dont Flop” it is great to hear both of these artists laying down powerful vocals over such strong production from Wizard. Don’t be put off by the auto-tuned chorus which Matter lays down as we feel it works very nicely with the vibe of the instrumental. The track also samples Barrington Levy’s “Many Changes In Life” throughout. This is personally my favorite track on the album and was featured as the introduction song for the Tony D Vs. Oshea Don’t Flop Title Match.

The second track we have featured comes from “Don’t Flop” co-founder Cruger with ‘V.I.G’. Wizard has created a grimey monster with this instrumental, syncopated ride cymbals and dirty low-end synths oscillating all over the place. Cruger provides typical lyrical wisdom over Wizard’s beat as we would expect, however his lyrics take more the form of a grime based freestyle on this one, rather than his usual topical style, shown on tracks such as “Do Nothing” or “Rayman.” Cruger still delivers however, which is satisfying to hear.

‘Now You Know’, featuring Brighton rapper Ceezlin inevitably features great production skills and proof of Wizard’s versatility. With an eastern sounding influence being featured throughout the arrangement and syncopated orchestral hits and vocal stabs, this is without a doubt the most swingy tune on the mixtape. This is before we talk about Ceezlin’s vocals layered on top. As always, Ceezlin delivers skippy multi-syllabic flows & relevant rhyme schemes along with small blocks of vocal being harmonized to great effect.

Coming with a harder, more aggressive vibe, ‘Snooze Button’ is perhaps the most powerful track on the mixtape. Teeth grinding synth melodies with arpeggio’s flying all over the place, combined with really hard sounding drums and layers of different snare sounds creates a real head nodding arrangement. The vocalists on this instrumental need know introducing really, Jack Flash, SonnyJim, Genesis Elijah and Stig of the Dump, you can’t ask for much more of a powerful set of voices over one track. Every artists delivers with hard lyricism.

‘Silly Billy’ features vocals from Wizard’s fellow OSB member, Schizzas, Irish rapper Nugget and Scottish rap-veteran Depths. The blend of the three different accents works incredibly well on another wicked piece of production from Wiz. The instrumental contains uplifting organ stabs, rolling 808 bass drums and a catchy synth line which bounces around over the layers of percussion. With no chorus section on this piece, it takes the format of a more grime style freestyle track, and it really works.

‘The Enemy’ features a highly anticipated verse from one of Florida’s best musical prospects 24/7, while also featuring vocal layers from female Australian rapper Chelsea Jane and Atlanta-based rap trio ATLien Workshop (Sonny Bamboo, Ness Lee and Hemi.) The instrumental here is similar to the previously mentioned track ‘Silly Billy.’ This one would sound large in a club or party environment (it’s not really a tune to relax to) and is something I would like to hear on a night out.

The bonus track “British Summer” features two performers I had previously never heard of, Joey Gzus & TrawR. Joey Gzus rapping and TrawR on vocals, they both provide excellent secondary layers of sound to the general arrangement of the track. It has aggressive yet melancholy lyrics, which mirror the soft orchestral themed instrumental layered with pulsating kick drums & creative subtle synthesis.

Download it here.

Wizard can be found at @Wizard Beats & also on his Bandcamp. The album is hosted by DJ Heritage who can be found on Twitter.

Written by Jay McDougall

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