In this week’s five we have two UK legends, Ghetts and Skepta, musing on what it means to be black in Britain. Across the Atlantic, Harlem rapper Delly is flexing on Flashy, while Iyamah drops some ‘’truth hurts’’ vocals while sounding sweeter than sugar. Niko B is sharing the chase of a lover on Quick Drive and lastly, Headie One is feeling triumphant with some help from Young T and Bugsey on Princess Cuts. His debut album has finally dropped. Your weekend rotation just got reshuffled.
Ghetts ft Skepta – IC3
Two Grime legends come together to spread a message that is very much of themselves. While also being bigger than themselves. In 2020, this is what the black experience feels like. Sharing personal stories and experiences to strengthen and feed the collective conscious. It’s not about you or me. But it is, at the same time. Ghetts and Skepta go back-to-back, trading the realities of black people being profiled as ‘’IC3’’ by police. A code, not a name. An opportunity to separate the human from their humanity. Ghetts tears up a classic trope ‘’ don’t tell me go back where I came from / while The Queen sits there in stolen jewels’’ then Skepta fully denounces the empire, while embracing his Nigerian heritage ‘’The Queen offered me an MBE / I said no and raised my first / went home, got my chieftaincy, now I’m back on the strip’’. On top of a cold, complex piano loop, these pioneering talents speak their truths, proud of who they’ve become, despite being profiled as ‘’IC3’’.
Delly – Flashy
Harlem-bred Delly hits hard on his new single ‘’Flashy’’. On classic East Coast production, heavy drums and menacing keys, Delly’s flow and delivery are reminiscent of Long. Live. A$AP era music. There’s even an Alexander Wang reference to round off the synergies. In the visuals, Delly flexes while draped in diamonds, with a wonky 24 karat grill shining in almost every frame. Jewels projected onto the walls fall behind him, while he speaks of what his God has willed him: ‘’Oh my God / mashallah / I’m the don’’. The video has a Hype Williams Belly-era feel to it due to that luminous blue which carried the visuals of the film. And just like Belly, it’s ostentatious, luxurious, icey, flashy.
Niko B – Quick Drive
Niko B is looking for a Bonnie to match his Clyde. As expected from the Milton Keynes-based MC/Producer, ‘’Quick Drive’’ is full of whimsical, madcap references in the hope that the girl he’s feeling is feeling him back. The video plays out like Wes Andersons take on Scott Pilgrim vs The World. Niko’s deadpan, Mike Skinner-like delivery works nicely against the spacey, light production ‘’here I am, walk through the city of red dots / Niko B / I beat my high school crush on the Xbox’’. In the video, a car passing by throws him an Xbox controller to bring the reference full circle in this imaginative world. Him and his crush play hopscotch, she gets a red card from a ref who looks much like the legendary Pierluigi Colina, Niko kisses Mary Berry in a cookbook and him and his mate play on their PSP. The chorus sees an OG BMW M3 drive around in circles, likely a reference to how the pursuit of this girl is going. Despite some melancholy lyrics, this song is a bop. Listening to this on a quick drive might make turn it into a road trip.
Iyamah – KYWK
London-based singer/songwriter Iyamah is opening herself up on ‘’KYWK’’. With some soulful, Bossa Nova-inspired acoustic riffs, she sings with clarity and power, as she tries to be honest with a significant other… ‘’ My Saggitarius ways won’t always let me be, nice / you want me to kill you with kindness?’’. Honesty is always the best policy, but it always comes with a price. But Iyamah’s not fussed – her truth matters more than somebody else’s feelings. ‘’How do I put it bluntly? You ain’t the one / I’m moving on…’’. Despite the raw honesty in her lyrics, the production and her vocals travel in a way that makes this song float with ease and grace. Perfect track to see you through the mid-afternoon, post-Zoom meeting overload slump this Friday.
Headie One ft Young T & Bugsey – Princess Cuts
Headie One has had a great year. Singles, features, and today, his debut album, Edna. He’s in the form of his life right now. The video sees Headie and friends in celebratory moods. Luxurious, tropical sounding production from TSB & IO match the private beach mansion party energy of the video. Headie is draped in all white with a Cuban cigar to boot, emulating Scarface or Rick Ross. Despite the aesthetic though, the raw wit in his drill flow remains, opening with ‘’my young boy got the stick like Moses with the Israelites / tell them opp boys it’s on sight’’. He lightens the mood with his hall party uncle dance moves ‘’I don’t dance but I can shake a leg / One-two step, Billy Jean’’. Young T and Bugsey, off the back of a stellar year of their own, provide a wavy foil for Headie on the catchy chorus. Throughout the video, there are cameos from Michael Dappah and Amelia Dimoldenberg. The video has a 90’s Mase/Will Smith feel to it – having popular faces pop up in the video rounds it off. Get this on your playlist to start the weekend properly.