BVA – Be Very Aware (HFRCD036) – Album Review & Artist Interview

Probably the most eagerly anticipated album from within the High Focus roster, Josh Davey aka BVA, is finally here to drop his brand new début solo LP. Of many a high-profile gang fame; 3 Amigos, The Four Owls and Brothers of the Stone, BVA is no stranger to performing the dopest UK hip hop alongside fellow lyricists.

However the time has come for Davey to take matters into his own hands, presenting to you “Be Very Aware“. Hailing from Glastonbury and known for his laid back albeit powerful approach, BVA has come a long way since his first solo work in 2011, continuously improving himself, his delivery and wordplay.

Discovered by one of the UK’s currently most thriving hip hop labels, High Focus Records, BVA, aka Rusty Take-Off, has overseen the slaughtering of festival stages at Outlook, Boomtown Fair, Nozstock, Glastonbury, and Boom Bap to name a few. With this new solo album featuring most of the usual High Focus culprits, BVA covers subjects such as his personal progression, inner-issues and hip hop culture over a flurry of productions from Illinformed, Leaf Dog and Amdek. This is an instant classic, guaranteed to be a stand-out release for any boom bap lover this year, and filled to the brim with authenticity and a pure passion for the art of hip hop.

Intro & Rain Or Shine

In Four Owls fashion, the album begins with an animalic narrative descriptive of the rodent that is the beaver. “Looking for inner peace, control my inner beast”, BVA kicks off with his vaulting tone. Leaf Dog’s production lays the foundation for BVA to refine in the first of many boom bap bangers on the LP. The hook determines his general perspective on living life, and vocalises the importance of being able to face what may come despite the hardships. Davey conveys; “We keep on keeping on, and keeping strong”, over a classic soul sampled beat, setting the tone for this listening experience in a resolved but feel-good fashion.

Hype Man

On a silky instrumental provided from one-third of the Brothers of the Stone, Leaf Dog, BVA moves into his honest analysis of hyped and gassed-up folk. Thought-out stanzas discarding those who glorify themselves, in style Davey breaks it down suitably over the beat’s synphonious strings.

Frontin

With Illinformed, the brother of Leaf Dog and fellow beat peddler behind the tune, BVA blesses the track furthering the victim list of his lyrical butchery. Davey comes on heavyweight by slamming ‘fronting’ fools, but also clearly praising those who speak truthfulness. Without letting up, he continues to flex insistently with his observations on ‘big men’ by telling it how it is. “So that’s the point, don’t front if you ain’t backing.”

This Love Is Love

Quite fitting seeing as the album release date is on Valentine’s Day. The Deformed Wing (Leaf Dog) brings it beautifully raw once again on the production, and the lyric, “Call it underground, but it’s sprouted and growing leaves” speaks volumes. The first single from Be Very Aware, is independent and original street music at its finest, representing itself with a devoted passion. This one is a sure head-nodder with a freestyle motive behind it, in tune with the relevance of the lyrics themselves. Despite willfully wishing to not ‘sound perfect’, there’s no doubt that this song is blessed from beginning to end with undiluted vigor.

Where’s The Mic At (feat. Leaf Dog)

The first of many collaborations on the album allows the Scarecrow to join forces once again with the Beaver, to devastating effect. Potent wordplay switches between the two over the chorus, displaying their intent to only provide the illest verses on the microphone. Over another stripped-back signature composition served up by Leaf Dog himself, the wordsmiths are as compulsive as the instrumental used.

It’s A Mad World (feat. Fliptrix, Cracker Jon & DJ Sammy B-Side)

Courtesy of Sammy B-Side, cuts of Jam Baxter‘s verse in the Four Owls’ “Life in the Balance“, and KRS-One’s “A Friend” amongst other hip hop classics, leads BVA into undertaking another hefty collabo between these High Focus heads. After penetrating the track with his regular resolve, Davey paves the way for Fliptrix to illustrate further into mad world topicality. His delivery as expected is more than on point, leaving Cracker Jon tie the track up solidly. Cracker Jon displays a potent yet playful and laid back approach to ‘amuse and thrill’ the listener, on another trademark Leaf Dog rhythm.

Dick Tru-Say & Gifted (feat. Verb T)

In comes the toast jazz with Dick Tru-Say (Verb Twazzer), humorously introducing BVA and himself with, “Let’s ’ave it!”. Leading into an easygoing mellow beat catered by Illinformed, BVA seizes the soundscape and structures his rhetoric to it aptly. Bird T proceeds effortlessly with an impressive balance between light-heartedness and genuine sincerity, lecturing with 16 bars of his dynamic poetry.

I Can’t Hear You

Being the first song exclusively dropped from the new album, it can be assured that most High Focus followers have been bumping this on repeat in anticipation. And rightly so. Taking the tempo down slightly, BVA’s prowess on “I Can’t Hear You” emphasises his intention to continually excel himself, whilst also outlining the importance of being hedonistic to a degree. Authentic, ardent and advisory are three words beginning with A… Which also happen describe this track in a nutshell.
You can purchase the single now from all good digital stores, including an exclusive b-side, and the instrumentals to accompany both tunes.

Weapon Of Choice (feat. Dirty Dike & Kashmere)

On a darker tip than what you will have heard so far throughout Be Very Aware, Illinformed has built a melancholic dingy number for this all-star collaboration with an unruly Dirty Dike and hip hop veteran Kashmere. Some may have heard BVA’s bars from this particular tune in his brand new freestyle video on YouTube, describing his weapon of choice; the weed. “Green gold, poor man’s champagne!”, BVA ensues to express how the herbal helps him focus and the many benefits of the bud. Flipping straight into Dirty Dike’s no-holds-barred bars of alcoholic adventures. His delivery is typically rampant and boisterous but fully going in, because Dike knows that only one drink is completely out the question. This leaves only Kashmere to tie the track with a third weapon; “enter the psychedelic kaleidoscope”. With assured brilliance, the boom bap pro paints a vivid and intricate picture of a multi-coloured journey to oblivion.

That Old Bitch (feat. Rag N Bone Man)

That old bitch being jealousy. On a soulful crossover hip hop tune cooked up by Illinformed, BVA tells of how steering clear of resentment and hate is essential, and how imperative it is to keep a peace of mind. Bringing his distinctive and mighty blues voice to this joint, Rag N Bone Man delivers a vibesing intro and catchy hook to the song’s raw soundscape.

Let Me Relax In My Cave (feat. Smellington Piff)

Opening with another excerpt from a nature documentary, this one drops straight into a jointly vocalised chorus between BVA and Smellington Piff, over another offering of feel-good horns and guitar riffs straight from Leaf Dog’s beat bank. “Me and Beav smoking out like Cheech & Chong”, exclaims Smellington as he breaks down problems with fake people whilst commending an elevated and relaxed lifestyle. BVA also takes his verse by the horns with an arsenal of no-nonsense bars, including an impressive depiction of growing cannabis as a metaphor for creating a tune.

Be Gone Bitches

After a slew of link ups with fellow High Focus and RLD members, Davey goes in on his own again over a breezy and jazzy Illinformed composition. “Speak it how I see it when I’m pulling off the blindfold”, BVA divulges with a freestyle tone about bitches (not strictly girls), as well as his general viewpoints on music and life.

Crazy Trips (feat. Leaf Dog)

Stoned, Broke And Single, Pt. 2..? Amdek on the beats for this merry one, as BVA and Leaf commence a story of their crazed mushroom ventures. “Leaf’s holding down the conversation on his own”, Davey explains as he amusingly illustrates his mad trip of floors melting into rivers and vomit chunks morphing into animals. Leaf chants the hook leading into his own verse; “Anything that’s in front of me seems amazing”, portraying these hallucinogenic visions as he interprets them. An entertaining listen and guaranteed nods in agreeance for those who know the feeling!

Insomnileptic

In contrast to most of the tracks on the LP, this particular tune is a hysterical and paranoia-infused chronicle combining both insomnia and narcolepsy. A deranged beat provided by Illinformed lays the background for the deep descriptive of the cognitions in a microwaved mind. BVA afflicts two heavy and heinous verses upon a frenzied guitar sequence, displaying his versatility to adapt his style to all sorts of instrumentals.

Am I Going Crazy

Back on the satisfying soulful and summer vibes, Leaf Dog comes once again on the instrumentation. BVA reveals how mind-altering substances may or may not have adjusted his persona. Nevertheless, Davey has inspiringly impressed consistently throughout the whole LP, and this tune is no exception. Unraveling his contemplations which some listeners could relate to, although wouldn’t otherwise like to think about too much themselves, BVA covers unfamiliar ground in terms of hip hop and lyricism itself. Regardless, BVA is relentless and provides a reflective but infectiously catchy chorus to tape up another banger.

Spit The Soulder (feat. DJ Sammy B-Side)

To bring the Be Very Aware experience to a close, BVA discloses how through the art of hip hop he is bolder, and in no way ever selling himself short. A slower tempo template from Illinformed’s beat dispensary, featuring cuts over the chorus from DJ Sammy B-Side, BVA concludes the album earnestly with conviction.

Album highlights: Rain Or Shine, It’s A Mad World, Insomnileptic

Due to be dispatched on 14th February, Be Very Aware is available to pre-order now on CD or on limited edition double gatefold vinyl from the High Focus store, as well as from all good music retailers.

If you can’t wait that long then you can check out the album mini-mix cooked up by Pete Cannon.

BVA – Interview with UK Bass Music

UKBM: Once the album drops, will there be any more future features or works we can expect to hear in 2014?

BVA: Yeah I’ve got a few verses on things that’ll be coming out. Jack Jetson‘s album, Smellington Piff’s album, I did something with Dirty Dike and Lee Scott the other day, got a few tunes on a Squared Roots mixtape for Wordplay Magazine coming soon… There’s probably more. I’ve also been working on new Brothers of the Stone material and there’s some new Four Owls material too.

UKBM: Can you reveal which festivals or particular gigs you’ll be performing at this year? Which is your favourite festival to play?

BVA: We will definitely be playing at Boom Bap (UK) and Outlook (Croatia) so far as festivals, I’d have to say Outlook’s my favourite festival out of the ones I’ve done so far.
Also got a gig with MF Doom, Four Owls, Buggsy, Onoe Caponoe & Lee Scott in Bristol on  22nd March at Motion which should be a sick one.

UKBM: You have many collaborations on your new LP, is there any artist(s) you’d especially love to team up with?

BVA: I mean UK wise probably Rodney P, Roots Manuva, Skinnyman, Mystro all the people that inspired me when I heard about UK shit, I’ve already recorded on some shit with Chester P which should be on Leaf’s new album I think but that was definitely a proud moment for me. Overseas I’d say Roc Marciano, Action Bronson or Young Z to name a few.

UKBM: What can we expect to see from yours and Leaf Dog’s RLD Records in the near future?

BVA: We’ve got 2 full LPs coming real soon, Jack Jetson – The Adventures of Johnny Strange, and Smellington Piff – Notice of Eviction, both with full Leaf Dog production. I’m excited about both of them, they’re both real different MCs but they’re both gonna fuck shit up!

UKBM: Are there any MCs or producers you’re currently feeling that you believe deserve more recognition?

BVA: I mean there’s a lot… NLP, Index, Split Prophets, Cracker Jon, Konchis & Physiks, Bill Shakes, Lee Scott and all the Children of the Damned crew, Badhabitz, Joe Corfield, to name a few…

UKBM: When writing, what are your inspirations and have they changed at all since you began making music?

BVA: My inspirations can be anything really but I think the reason’s still exactly the same, obviously everything’s changed around me a bit but I’m still doing exactly the same thing for the same reasons. I’m definitely a bit wiser now though.

UKBM: And lastly, if you could have any superpower what would it be?

BVA: Flying hahaha.

Originally written for UK Bass Music.

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