The Northaze – Lunar Duplex

The word Duplex refers to a dwelling with two different entrances for seperate apartments but it can also refer to something that simply has two parts and it is in that sense that the name given to The Northaze’s most recent project is perfect. One of the things that sets this Leeds duo apart from the myriad of artists currently making some variant of rap music in the UK is the spacey and atmospheric sound of the group’s production. ‘Lunar’ connotes this spacey feeling that permeates every corner of this album (and by extension the majority of their discography) while ‘Duplex’ refers to the fact that Kosi Tides and Swish are two parts of one greater whole. When coupled with the speedier flows the pair sometimes borrow from their Grime contemporaries, the style of the instrumentals on Lunar Duplex makes for a very unique listening experience.

Only a cursory glance at UK Black Twitter is required to see that some fans of the UK scene are beginning to grow fatigued by the more prevalent sounds coming out of the country as a lot of it is starting to sound a bit too similar. Anyone in search of a breath of fresh air ought to give this latest Northaze project a listen. Despite the pair having dropped more music than plenty of your faves since 2013, Lunar Duplex feels somewhat like a true debut. Perhaps it’s because this is the first project set to appear on streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music but even if it weren’t Lunar Duplex would still feel like The Northaze’s most focused work to date.

Throughout the duration of the album Kosi showcases his hook writing ability, achieving the impressive feat of not having to sacrifice witty lyricism for catchiness; an excellent example of this is the Jatce assisted  second track ‘Headshot’, Tides rapping ‘And I’m out for the bread like a wholemeal’. On ‘Insomnia’ he’s able to perfectly encapsulate the everyman struggle of sleepless nights ridden with mugs of tea and cigarettes meanwhile Swish gleefully flaunts his ability to fuse speedier raps more reminiscent of Grime with a laid back, mid tempo instrumental. The production on ‘Insomnia’ wouldn’t sound out of place on Mac Miller’s 2014 drug infused rumination on life, Faces and yet Swish spits at a pace that would indicate he was on a pirate radio set, were it not for the laid back tones he laces the track with. Quite a large majority of the pairs discography sounds so relaxed that it’s easy to miss the genius of certain lines because everything sounds so dreamlike. However, if you pay attention you’ll hear Swish drop gems like ‘Peddling to secure me a win, ain’t looking for no draws in the bag’. Let that one sink in.

Swish and Kosi are both talented rappers in their own right but like Kagami Taiga and the titular Kuroko from the anime Kuroko’s Basketball, they are simply unstoppable when working as a pair. It’s clear that Kosi knows his way around a hook so throughout the duration of the album Swish lets him handle them, similar to how Kagami is aware that he can always get into space to make a shot because Kuroko will always be able to make the right pass. But while passes aren’t all Kuroko is good for, Kosi similarly has more arrows in his quiver, delivering superb verses on each track as well.

Lunar Duplex sees The Northaze further elevate the signature style they have developed over the last few years; it very much  showcases the same MCs any longtime listeners will be familiar with and it’s truly only a matter of time before some fledgling rapper is entering ‘Northaze type beat’ into the search bar. Kosi and Swish have been at this for a while and they’ve not only managed to remain consistent, they’ve managed to outdo themselves. The Northaze are arguably one of UK hip-hop’s best kept secrets but if you’re a fan of hip-hop from these shores you’d be remiss to let Lunar Duplex go under your radar.


Written by /
Published /
May 3
Category /
Album Review