For this week’s 5, we have the barsy Flohio link up with Kasien to deliver the energetic, futuristic-sounding ‘With Ease’, before Ragz Originale and 24hoursav pull up with some wintry, electronic bounces on ‘ring out’. Then, Chip completes his trifecta of sends with support from legends JME and Dizzee. The latter is in especially good form. Peckham’s latest genre-defiant talent, Sam Akpro brings us into his atmosphere on ‘Swan’. Finally, Wizkid returns, blessing the airwaves with ‘Gyrate’. This week has been stacked with releases, and as the winter months really begin to hit, your playlists need to be patterned with a variety of vibes to keep the energy up.
Flohio x Kasien – With Ease
The visuals for this banger are set in a classic London boozer with all the typical hallmarks: dark wooden fittings, Victorian patterns and snooker tables. But, everybody inside is black. There’s a distinctly sci-fi feel about this reimagining a typically British institution. Matched by the futuristic production, and the breathlessness of Flohio’s delivery “censored with the face off / when the show starts scars show reflection / now I’m one down for the section” all said while she floats around the space, inspecting it, like a pub landlord would. Kasien steps into the ring, pint glass in hand, with the chorus, ‘’don’t do beef / I can get down so please / don’t come around me / we can get loud and greaze’’. Skepta’s famous ad-lib is dubbed over it, a sign of approval from the artist who has come to define the cultural crossover/commentary that is alluded to in the song and in the visuals. This track slaps on all levels: bars, hooks, visuals, production – all done with ease.
Ragz Originale – ring out .f/ 24hoursav
This song has a distinctly wintry feel to it, deep bassline, airy synths with some tinny drums create an atmosphere and natural groove – something Ragz always manages to produce in his music. While he croons over the beat, in the visuals, he falls through his own vision, changing outfits, switching moods. There’s a cameo from his Mini Kingz cohorts Oscar #Worldpeace and Benjiflow. But the heavy lifting is split between Ragz and 24hoursav, who jumps in with some sweet vocals to assist the message. Winter time aka ‘cuffing season’ means a random DM or text message from an old flame can turn into something unexpected. It’s a time where things that have gone cold can be reheated. What Ragz is saying though, is that time has passed for him, so – he’s letting the phone call he might’ve once answered… from teexting your ex to lettiong the phone ‘ring out’. Sound advice, which could save a lot of headache, still.
Chip ft JME & Dizzee Rascal – Ignite
It’s safe to say Chip feels most at home, when the chips are down. After teasing the track a few weeks back, his final draw out ‘Ignite’ has arrived. We all know who he’s talking to. And even if said person isn’t talking back (yet) – this track might be the best of the three. The beat, dizzying, pulsating, lively – featuring a vocal loop that sounds very similar to the one found on Flirta D’s legendary ‘Warp Speed’’. Chip opens the track on smoke: “fxck your single that shit’s not (fire) / fxck your mixtape that shit’s not (fire) / fxck your album that shit’s not (fire)” while the camera spins around with the whole scene drapsed in flames. JME flies in on his usual steez with a classic grime flow mixed with references to the Fantastic Four, NBA Jam and Street Fighter, before grabbing a flamethrower and sparking up the set. But it’s Dizzee, who’s having the most fun with his music in a long time, who steals the stage. That iconic drawl lets off a hilarious anecdote “Went raw back on a yatty in ’01 Caught the clap, my tings was on (Fire) (Hoo) Shoulda been a wrap – but I acted a prat And I went straight back ’cause that bitch was (Fire)” He’s far from a boy now, but he’s spitting like he’s back in that corner. Whatever the next chapter in this beef is, we can be grateful we got three legends on the riddim all the same.
Sam Akpro – Swan
Peckham-born artist Sam Akpro doesn’t believe in boxes. His music has a crazy atmosphere, it’s guitar and synth heavy, it evokes hints of Radiohead, but then there are scratches and splodges of UK Rap legend Roots Manuva in the skittish production. The song takes its time to build into its final form, Akpro trusts his ability enough to take time with the crescendo. The vocals float on the warbled production with ease. Lyrics are delivered with clarity, but will require a repeated listen to gather the subtext. Mixed meanings paralleled by the layered soundscape – the DIY visual also gives very little away, other than etched views of the city, an idea of where Sam is coming from. Sam, as well as Master Peace are part of a new wave of South London based black musicians who are creating outside the lines of what’s expected. And it’s morphing into a unique new sound.
Wizkid – Gyrate
Starboy drops his long-anticipated new LP Made In Lagos. It’s stacked with everything you’d expect from him. The sign of a good album is having a favourite track that shifts regularly. I had about five potential drafts lined up for this, but the triumphant, sunset-evoking horns and gentle guitar riff on Gyrate won it for me. The easy-flowing composition, Wizkid’s unfussy delivery and the lyrics create an end of the night energy that is simply timeless. Wiz switches flows, pidgin, patois – but the sentiment remains. This is one for you and a special someone. The clubs are still locked off, Covid continues to have implications, and in Lagos we are fighting for the future of a generation. But this album represents the best of Lagos, the energy, the hustle, the talent, the possibility. As we enter the weekend, and with the enjoyment inevitably assisted by Wizkid, let’s be grateful for what we have and who we have, and provide blessings and support for those on the frontlines, fighting for better opportunities in life.