Written By: Ryan Duff
In an era where all eyes are on the rise of the grime scene and its big hitters, one OG of rap has come forward with an album steeped in class and lyrical wisdom to show people he hasn’t lost his magic touch. Doc Brown released Stemma in May 2017, this is his first album since his youth, back when he was a major name in the London music scene. This album is perfect, the whole project is steeped in nostalgia but still doesn’t alienate new listeners. This is the cream of the crop of British rap.
Since this was Doc’s first fully-fledged project back in the game I was slightly skeptical, I had my doubts that his pen may not have been as strong as it once was, but thankfully these doubts departed the moment I started listing to Stemma. “Empires” and “Corruptible” are two tracks we have heard before the official album release, “Empires” was a track originally released on SBTV in January of 2016 featuring fellow old school don, Luc Skyz. Through this track Doc talks about his intentions, who he is and what he stands for it is like his manifesto. “Corruptible” was the single for the album with the music video being released back in March. What I like about this track is the beat isn’t something common, it is kind of all over the place but somehow it is neutralized by Docs coolly delivered bars.
“I Got This” has quickly found itself at the top of my gym playlist with its constant electronic beat and fast pace. Doc uses this track to feature fellow London rapper Mikill Pane, who kills his parts delivering big lines such as “I run rings around your team on some Olympic shit, we came to mess with MCs, making efforts to lead, Mate forget it, just relay the message” showing his pen skill and making him someone one I am defiantly checking out in the future and I think you should too.
I spoke to Doc a few months before the album was released and I asked him if he had written any tracks on mental health, his reply was very short (Full Interview) but I feel that “Papillon” is the track he was hinting at. “Papillon” is a word I have not encountered before so I researched it and found it is the French word for butterfly but it could also be linked to the novel by the same title written by Henri Charrière whose main charterer deals with mental illness and has a butterfly tattoo on his chest. “Papillon” is a stand out track for me, it is powerful and honest, the lyrics are some I could connect they are vulnerable. If you choose to listen to only one track from the album make it “Papillon” it’s Doc at the top of his game, flawless.e
“Forever” is a genre cross into rock with the guitar riff, drums, and vocals on the hook but Docs delivery and lyrics are still Hip Hop to the core. With a theme of conflict throughout he discusses his come back to rap, I feel he is saying that he has all these doubters saying, “He is too old to be doing this as a hobby” but he doesn’t give a fuck because “So many people with different opinions of how we should live, but opinions are like arseholes cause everyone’s got one” as it is stated on the hook. This song is his two fingers to anyone trying to hate on him and his comeback.
While “Amnesia” is not on the album I feel it’s a track I must talk about, it features Doc’s old Poisonous Poet partners; Reveal and Tony D. With the opening words “Poisonous never died we are the phoenix we forever rise” it gives me hope that PP will come back with a full album one day. Tony D (Ex-Don’t flop champion) goes hard on this track with a line I personally love; “I’m Poisonous in the air like mustard gas” with his flow on point as always Tony destroys his verse. Reveal isn’t lacking in the bar department on this track either “These new jacks are like the new fivers I’m still getting use to the change, but they made them with new fibres they just don’t do it the same.” I don’t know why but this bar killed me. I wish this track was on the album it just goes so hard and it’s nice to hear Doc back with his old crew, it is nostalgic with still current.
While I believe that music needs to progress and develop with the times I still feel that we need to remember where it all started, people like Doc helped cultivate the world of music we know today and although they may have a few years on them they still have something to say and to contribute to the culture we all know and love. So, if you have never heard of Doc go check out his latest album or his earlier stuff or his comedy or anything to do with him this man is pure talent and deserves more recognition.