The relationship between rapper and producer is at the heart of almost all great hip-hop. The symbiotic ability of producers to align their beats perfectly with some of hip-hop's most talented and expressive rhyme exponents has given us a long list of notable partnerships throughout hip-hop's history. From Eric B and Rakim to El-P and Killer Mike rap partnerships have an innate sense of power and grace. In this same esteemed lineage comes Low Fidelity, High Quality by Ta-Ku and Rashaan Ahmad.

The existence of this collaborative gem was previously unknown until it was offered by Rashaan to Berlin based label Jakarta who released his excellent Ceremony album earlier this year. As well as releasing Ceremony, Jakarta have also released Ta-Ku's equally arresting Dowhatyoulove this year. The discovery and free release of the pair's joint album record during Rashaan's Australian tour in 2011 provides a celebratory moment of triumph for both the artists involved and the label. The recordings where unearthed from Rashaan's hard-drive and what was lying dormant and undiscovered can now be richly savoured. The music on Low Fidelity, High Quality is extremely raw and rough hewn as the title suggests but it carries an incredible amount of joy, positive and straight up hip-hop thrills.

There is a purity to these productions and Ahmad's engaging rhymes that gives the music a carefree ebullient quality. Packing 16 short and insidious cuts into 28 it is blissfully succinct and direct allowing you to easily dip into Ka-Tu's inventive old school instrumentals or the life-affirming intelligent rhymes of Rashaan Ahmad. While the instrumental tracks are a joy, the album's highlights are the moments where the music takes really takes flight, e.g. the symphonic yearning of Cold where Rashaan proclaims, "I live through this music." You can palpably feel his passion through his voice and his ryhmes. More playful but just as rousing is the jumped up soulful rumble of 'Lean Left.' Here, the duo provides something of a manifesto for their music, "Put it in your car and cruise to it, good music."


Elsewhere, July featured the full release of UK beat maker Paul White's Watch The Ants. White has already established himself as one of the UK's most diverting and talented producers and his idiosyncratic approach gives his latest EP a singular vibe all of its own. White is a producer who is adept at taking old forms, in this case classic boom bap aligned with a more spaced out kind of avant psych, and subtly warping them into something that is gloriously weirded out and disorientating.

Watch The Ants features collaborations with his regular ally Danny Brown (including the outstanding lead track 'Street Lights') and Stones Throw luminaries Homeboy Sandman and Sean Price. It's an album full of tracks that you can never quite place, always quick to throw you off track. 'Slugs Don't Hug' featuring Sean Price is particularly intriguing. Here, the music is a dense swirl of noises and samples and some strange instrumentation, which could perhaps be bagpipes or even a didgeridoo. Price's brooding voice just adds to the feeling of growing malevolence. Closing track 'Find A Way' featuring Homeboy Sandman perfectly encapsulates the feeling of spacey paranoid dread that brilliantly infects White's music and beats. While he has always been feted within the realm of experimental hip-hop, White hasn't yet truly broken through to widespread acclaim. Watch The Ants should be the collection that takes him to a new level ahead of his work on Danny Brown's forthcoming album, Old.


Returning to Jakarta Records, the label will soon release The Warm Up by Ghanaian rapper Blitz The Ambassador. Taken from it is the tough and gnarled old-school rumble of 'Dikembe!' The track represents hip-hop espousing its traditional values of street born primitive sounds and raw rhymes and it bodes well ahead of Blitz' latest release. Sometimes it's all to easy to take a blinkered US centric approach to hip-hop, but Blitz The Ambassador is proof of the truly global nature of the sound and the culture. Blitz is at the forefront of an African hip-hop scene of endless potential.


Finally, it would be remiss to not mention Kendrick Lamar's incendiary show stealing verse on Big Sean's Control. Regardless of whether you agree with him or not, his verse of unshakeable confidence and an almost scary level of desire and aggression is an example of hip-hop at its very finest. It's why we love the music so much and it's yet another example of why Kendrick Lamar is currently the finest rapper on the planet.