Tag Archives: Review

Ard Adz – No Rain No Flowers

One of the scene’s unsung heroes, Ard Adz has been consistent to say the least, one of the few underground acts to have a solid fanbase, to where everyone else had to take notice. For some time now the rapper had been overlooked, but no more, as he follows up on an array of mixtapes with his new EP, No Rain, No Flowers.

Heavy with the street raps, many of his fans noticed a more conscious theme creeping, as he began to bring his faith further into the music, something that merely highlights his transparency as an artist. Unafraid to share emotion, where many may fear the backlash, it was even more appreciated and added to the familiarity that audiences felt with him.

With No Rain No Flowers, Adz gives us 6 tracks, that help establish not only where he’s at, but the intentions as he continues on, starting with the intro, Dirty’s Pain

where he unapologetically flows, weaving between his love for his people, but the lack of trust, his ambition to succeed but his disgust of the shady industry, it plays well setting up for the current anthem What’s Gwarning

Classic Adz, as he details the street life, going back and forth with feature Bellzey, “My brother said life is a gamble, so I’m hitting life at all angles, I got the steel on my waist, it beats like I got it off Banglez”, through the catchy flows, there’s still lyricism and metaphors present (as with that line he shows love to producer Steel Banglez). He makes it seem so easy, it’s almost his signature, which he carries on into the Oye Oye Freestyle. The EP thus far is catering to his core audiences, as he opts to stay loyal to his rap roots, with the S Wavey collab, Cause Jahanam, over the classic Alchemist production, it’s a casual vibe, thats sets up the next track perfectly, the standout Fast Lane. “What have I become, I’m a devil to the lord, but an angel to my son..”, the track depicts his struggle with life and religion a little further, with an assured take on him finding his balance. With talk of an album soon to come, the last two tracks help steer into that direction, including the last track My Ak. A relatable track, for many with people locked up, and it shows the loyal soul that he is, through this introspective cut.

In the first track, he says, “I’d still rather sign to my son than Virgin..”, in the last, he says, “I’d rather sign to my son before Def Jam..”, such strong indications of his anti-label stance, and with the content given, he’s certainly not looking to compromise in the slightest. There are many of his fans, who comment and mention his ability to provide beyond the gangsta rap, but for now the South London artist is clearly looking to cement his legacy within what he knows best.

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Blay Vision – Turner Ave.

The young producer has been forging his own sound over time, notable behind the boards, producing vibes for a variety of MC’s (most recently Phaze What – Neva Dat), though he’s proving more than able behind the mic also, and with Skepta broadening the parameters of Grime, Blay is one of the up and coming acts to utilise the freedom. His 2017 release Turner Ave might be one of the top Grime projects of the year (amongst the likes of Manga St Hilaire’s Outbursts From The Outskirts).

It’s clear from the get go with These Guys, as an assured Blay lays out the mindset and his intentions,

and the project backs that sentiment, as though you can hear certain influences, overall it really stands alone from whatever else is out at the moment. Track 2, Fully Involved, one of my favourite productions this year, and I’m glad that he attempts to have substance, as if he’s aware of what the production provides, allowing him to structure more thoughtfully, and from a humble perspective of an up and coming act, so the content fits well. I find myself separating the production at times, but in all honesty, I can hear he’s more seasoned as a producer, but the flows are impressive, more so the stories he weaves and the lessons he attempts to stitch together, it’s really well crafted. I really like how the project flows, he most definitely thought about performances, as tracks like the hype Skeen, will undoubtedly get the crowd jumping, and through the raw delivery, there’s lines to take in, “I know man that’ll marry your mum, come to the country and dun your clart”, that’s a reload right there!

[I recognise good ol’ Southampton, after I spent the last couple years there]

Around track 7, there’s a minimal shift, but if you’ve come this far, you’re certainly hearing the rest of the project less critically, like the vibezy My G’s, with it’s catchy hook and satisfyingly piercing synths,

I’m proud of his evolution thus far, from the early sounds of his I have on my old laptop, a more refined sound, and it continues with the JME featured Gone Mad,

he’s back at it right after with Free Mo, which is more him flexing his MC abilities, switching up the flow, and it’s a more musical approach, as it’s another well structured effort that I can see working well live. I like tracklists that aren’t predictable, and as he begins to show his versatility, this is just that, an array of tempos and styles, one minute your just nodding your head to Amnesia,

the next you’re tuned in, relating to the introspective and open Normal, “Anxiety got me thinking a madness, I just wanna be normal”. 

Such records really highlight his abilities, beyond a talented producer, crafting quality songs, whilst still being able to give you the more performance based bangers like 99 Pace

and the final track on the project, Violent, which gives you a more confident Blay, it’s as if you’ve travelled on a journey through the project, and that’s what you want, from an artist’s perspective and listeners alike. It takes a lot of effort to put together a project, let alone visuals and without the support of masses it can be a hit or miss, so props to him as he carves out a moment for himself with Turner Ave, an array of sounds and flows, all rolled up into a dope project.

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Wholagun – Solution To The Problem

It’s been a long time coming. The South London rapper forged an almost legendary street status, an OG to many of the up and coming stars today, Wholagun had found some early success with a string of hits 3 to 5 years ago, generating a decent amount of views and following, however, for various reasons, it felt like he had not entirely made the transition into rap, not to mention the scene was not as healthy then. In the past couple years he followed through with some more freestyles and street bangers, with fans almost demanding an entire project, and so today, those wishes are granted, as we finally get the release of a full body of work, Solution To The Problem.

8 Tracks, fit to satisfy the core fans, but with enough range to introduce himself to new ones alike. Wholagun can rap, there is no denying it, what makes him some of your favourite rapper’s favourite rapper, is his versatility, flows for days, and as his brand increases, as will the content, with this EP showing early glimpses of just that. It starts with the lead single Dirty, it’s straight forward, easy to digest, and catchy, Wholagun has pretty much perfected the British trap sound, proven with the next track Weighty Cheque, following a similar format, as did Pretty & Bad, maybe I wanted more from him because I know what he is capable of, so initially I was disappointed, but couple more listens later and they’ve grown on me, the flow patterns and punchlines do it justice.

You can never judge from a couple tracks, and that’s exactly the case with this project, as track 4 takes a more melodic turn, “the game is mine, I rap, I sing, I’m taking the piss..”, and he is, the fan in me was vibezing, and the part that wants to see his talents rewarded was pleased, because it’s quality enough to be put up there with the current crop, one criticism I had, and If I was in the studio with him, I would say, to avoid the repetitive choruses, saying that, on this record, it made sense, and fit well. It might just be a personal choice and in fairness a lot of the biggest tracks out today have similar hooks, but I do believe he is talented enough to do better, and I just wouldn’t want anyone thinking otherwise.

I realise that because I’ve been waiting for this for long, I’m almost judging it, in all fairness, this is a re-introduction, as he re-asserts himself, letting you know, who he is out here, “I don’t wanna hear about big man, when you ain’t bigger than man”. The get money motivation is strong throughout, and by track 5, I realised he’s giving you doses of genius, easily digested, “I just got a call from the plug, got the front room looking like ‘dam”, this exact ability to paint a picture lyrically is why so many have loyally waited for this. Best thing about the project is that it only continues to get better with each song, bringing us to track 6, Be Rich, an introspective take on that previously mentioned motivation, is one of the standout tracks, “I’m tryna get that bread, my daughter needs her pizza, I’m tryna leave the ends…ain’t tryna rise that heat up”, he further delves into his desires to really establish himself in this game, making no mistake that it’s going to take hard work.

My early criticism/disappointment might not have made sense, me knowing he is capable of more, and when you hear track 7, you can understand, out of nowhere there’s a track catering to the ladies, and in no way has he had to compromise, nor is it a reach in any way, there’s strength in vulnerability, “feeling a way when you hug me, I feel like the man..only God is above me”, Winner it’s quite soulful, and very much appreciated, making it another standout. The last two tracks might be the best, with Real Talk 3 really cementing Wholagun at his best, the insightful raps, engulfed in wisdom, it’s human, it’s the epitome of what rap is for many, that inspiration, to keep going. “Every days a blessing, I just wanna see us all progressing, feel like everyone fights depression, ’til you realise your minds a weapon”.

I wanted to end it at that bar, powerful, emotive, important, that is Wholagun, who has given us a quality body of work, that he can only build upon as he continues his imminent rise to the top.

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