This week’s 5 features new MOBO winner, Headie One and a standout MOBO performer in Kojey Radical. Both have enjoyed a great year of growth, Kojey expressing his grace for the new position he’s in on the solemn cut ‘GOOD’. Headie goes back to basics with frequent collaborator, RV. When RV and Headie link up, they bring out the best of each other – ‘Back To Back’ is a light stretch for them both. The ever-evolving Jay Prince who’s new ‘SOL’ series of mini-EP’s reflect a new direction in his music. Prince swapped the cold concrete of London for the perma-sun you find in Lisbon. You can hear it in the music as well. Bakar and Lancey Foux build off their last collab ‘Poison’ with a more pared-down feel on ‘Play’. Finally, Kid Cudi ties up his legendary ‘Man On The Moon’ trilogy with the long-anticipated third, and final instalment. He enlists the late legend Pop Smoke and Skepta on an early standout in ‘Show Out’. As we approach the end of what has been a mad year, at least the fire tracks stay coming through.
Bakar – Play feat. Lancey Foux
In what seems like an unlikely duo, Bakar returns the favour and enlists Lancey Foux to assist the vibes on ‘Play’. Both Bakar and Lancey are in the back of the whip, with a KFC bucket between them and Bakar in charge of distributing the rest. There’s a big night ahead. Sonically, it’s a more bouncy track than ‘Poison’ – with wheezy, Neptunes-esque synths that sit below Bakar’s croons, “So dismissive, you’re not the victim in it, why you switching?” he asks. Bakar and Lancey cut through the city, scratchy VHS clips and acid-washed imagery show a world that fits the aesthetic of both artists – likely a collaboration with more tracks in the tank as well. Lancey flies in with his distinctive flow, auto-tune heavy vocals, then spoken-word delivery, then raps – Lancey is able to flit in a number of different pockets. But then so is Bakar. Hopefully, a joint project is in the works.
Kojey Radical – GOOD
After dropping a memorable and typically firebrand performance at the MOBO’s, Kojey comes good on ‘GOOD’. In a year where he’s become a father, released his best work and started getting the recognition he deserves, it’s no surprise Kojey is feeling good. Hopeful piano keys dominate the track, this sounds like Graduation-era Kanye. The feeling of a job well done. The feeling of self-gratitude. The feeling of self-love. Lots of Kojey’s old work was more fractured, he delivered his bars more poetically, with more raw emotion. The emotion and poetry are still in his music, but it’s more cohesive. More connected. ‘GOOD’ is about showing grace, despite whatever’s happening in life. It’s about being thankful for what we have. The delivery of the chorus (and tracks general themes/feels) come in the mould of Chance, The Rapper “Imma always be okay / imma always be / blessed up / yes I / woke up knowing I’m good”. As we approach the end of the year, we’ve got to be thankful that we still have our health, and our families are safe. 2020 has shown the importance of the little things.
Jay Prince – FINALE FREESTYLE
Jay Prince over the last few years has quietly carved out a really unique lane. He’s collaborated with some major artists, dropped some big singles and consistently high-quality music, produces his own work and does the same for others. It would be easy to call Jay Prince an underrated talent, which – in a commercial sense – he likely is. But he makes music for himself and for his fans – it’s why he isn’t afraid to experiment and switch lanes because it isn’t for clout. He rates his work and his artistry. That’s what makes me a fan of his. Commitment to creativity, not clout. On his new ‘SOL’ releases, the music is more sombre, with hints of chillwave. Sounds a bit like Toro Y Moi in places. Jay has been between Lisbon and London making music, and ‘Finale Freestyle’ sounds like the perfect meeting point of influences, sun and storms. On a pulsating bassline, Prince drops his opening gambit “best believe I send my prayers / put my faith in God he won’t delay it / lost a couple bruddas on the journey / still I do forgive you hope you heard me”. In between his singing, and his features, you forget his pen has always been sharp. While Prince continues to build a strong base for himself, it gets difficult to trust “she wants my number / wants my digits / meanwhile I’m just hoping that you’re different”. Some of his delivery, nasal and emphasised, has an Andre 3K feel to it. We’re waiting on that straight bars mixtape.
RV & Headie One – BACK TO BACK
Off the back of a stellar year, Headie could never forget where he’s from. Him and RV are going back-to-back like the songs that launched both their careers. Bouncing back and forth, both Headie and RV take turns in dropping classic football quoteables – RV takes the lead with “anytime gang go attacking, opps fall back like Timothy Mensah” before Headie follows up “foul play in the fields / we ain’t even play with shin pads”. All of this is said while fake corpses hang ghoulishly from the ceiling, while both rappers take turns to tell stories of how that corpse might’ve ended up where it is. Light only peeks through the bullet holes in the wall, illuminating the grisly tales these guys know well. Headie’s success and RV’s rising star is a testament to the grind, to perseverance – and to having a plan. Hope Drillers x Trappers 3 drops soon.
Kid Cudi x Pop Smoke x Skepta – Show Out
The feted trilogy comes to an end. Kid Cudi’s Man On The Moon series is the one his legacy is inexplicably linked to. Though he’s released a lot of music, these are the ones where his sound and narrative were developed. The auto-tune vocals, with the signature melodic humming to express the battle to control his demons, has made Cudi a massive sonic influence on a new generation of rappers – Travis Scott has regularly mentioned Cudi as his biggest influence in music. On ‘Show Out’, Cudi enlists late Pop Smoke and Skepta to deliver the fire. A tuned up, heavy metal sounding bassline, intertwined with some specifically London drill 808’s mix up nicely to fit each artist’s talents. Pop’s gravely vocals deliver the chorus, balancing Cudi’s first forays spitting over a drill beat. Surprisingly, it works well. Skepta opens the track with typical energy, taunting his opponents “and they got guns the same size as Kevin Hart / please don’t think it’s a joke”. This is an interestingly unexpected link-up – and with the tragic, untimely passing of Pop Smoke earlier this year, this will be 1/1. Keep it rotated.