Saints preserve us, I swear the temperature in my bedroom dropped 5° the moment the first notes of "Grandzeen" set my auditory nerve shivering, and a further 5° when Ed Scissor's poignant poetics entered the fray some 3 minutes later. "Tell Them It's Winter" is the hip-hop even the hip-hop media ignores; a doom-laden odyssey into urban darkness that shakes your heart and mind like a Mendelssohn opera with a T S Eliot-penned libretto. Producer Robin Legge really ought to change his nom de plume from Lamplighter to Lachrymator X such is his skill at manipulating musical melancholia and Ed ... well, much as I love playing vocab volleyball, I could never hope to hold a candle to his extraordinary iambics. High Focus had cemented its place as UK rap music's label of the year well before this hell-bound, heaven-scented work of genius arrived in our laps, but what scares me is that after 2016's avalanche of masterpieces, the only way for HF in the year to come, must surely be down. The good news is, I'm not a medium but with a roster that includes Onoe Caponoe, Jam Baxter, Ocean Wisdom and these two children from a galaxy far away, High Focus is an XXXXXXL. Watch them top the world in 2017.
Favorite track: Week.