Somehow, it’s Christmas next week. Christmas doesn’t mean #ChristmasSongs around here though. If you’re after those, go check NOW 93. This week we have the legendary MC Ghetts showing love to his family with an earnest delivery quite different to his rapid-fire flo. One of 2020’s breakout stars, the firebrand Ivorian Doll sends out warning shots on ‘Clout’. Birmingham-based collectives Nineteen97 and Blue Room Mafia (BRM) link up on ‘Again’ – which sees the return of the elusive BRM. Newcomer Iceé TGM drops her debut single ‘Imagine’. Finally, producer Juls joins forces with P-rallel and Tay Iwar with the smooth ‘1985’. The year is approaching its end, yet the vibes keep on rolling through. Stay tuned as we run you through the last 5 of 2020.
Ghetts – Proud Family
The evolution of Ghetts as an artist and as a man has been inspiring to watch over the years. He broke into the scene with a crazed, raging, energetic delivery of pure lyricism that was wrapped in anger and in pain – reflecting the life he had lived up until that point. As time has gone by, he’s grown and matured as a person, Ghetts has become more sagely, more ruminative. His legend is immovable. One of the best MC’s to ever hail from the UK. With this credit in the bank, Ghetts’ purpose has shifted. His new sound is less about ego and more about reflection and educating (he isn’t done shelling though, see Class of Deja). Ghetts knows his role is bigger than stunting or flexing now, that he is an example for a new generation of Black Brits. The black experience has always been a narrative topic for Ghetts, but in the last few years, on tracks like ‘Black Rose’, this year’s ‘IC3’, and now ‘Proud Family’, Ghetts is putting another side of himself into his music. He even sings on this track. It’s no coincidence the falsetto starts when mum’s cooking gets laid out. Take this one in properly, it’s special.
Ivorian Doll – Clout
Ivorian Doll is one of the 2020’s breakout stars. Her ascent has been a textbook execution in how to capitalise on a moment. Initially a YouTuber, her energy has always been present. But she went viral in some funny circumstances towards the end of last year, and she’s built off the back of that with her lyrical prowess and musical ability. Her new cut ‘Clout’ is addressing the challenges that come with being a new star, taking aim at competitors, who know using her name carries weight. The track is underscored by a ghoulish drill beat, providing IVD the perfect backdrop for her venomous delivery and razor-sharp pen game to take centre stage “cause my price went up / no pension / girls face walls / no detention” – IVD is definitely more Spinelli than Lisa Simpson, for real.
Nineteen97 x Blue Room Mafia – Again
Elusive Birmingham producer Nineteen97 links up with another set of elusive Brummies, Blue Room Mafia on ‘Again’. Nineteen97 has been steadily building a name for himself, working with Jesse James Solomon and on his own solo releases too. Blue Room Mafia haven’t released any music since their sleeper debut tape Blue Inc in 2017 (go spin that if you haven’t). On ‘Again’, their sharp flow hasn’t lost any of its efficacy in the time they’ve had away. Nineteen97 cooks up a jumpy, string-heavy, energetic production for BRM to mark their return on. The drums trickle slowly, building anticipation before they come through with impact “got the whole place jumpy again / got a bad one saying that she loves me again”. The way ‘Again’ is delivered sounds inspired by one of Skepta’s classic ad-libs. But the way this song plays out, it’s likely he’d co-sign it. Hopefully, BRM drop a new project of a similar vein to this track in 2021.
Iceé tGM – Imagine
After showcasing her considerable talents on J Hus’ Big Conspiracy, the alleged sister of Hus begins carving out her own lane with her debut release ‘Imagine’. Produced by Lekaa Beats, the piano keys and saxophone set the scene on a sunny locale. Then cutting to a beach, before landing at a pool. This is a party. Chilling poolside, Ciroc, Henny, Moet on deck then the 808’s kick in and Icee comes through “Ciroc in the right / with a bad boy tryna have a lit night / he’s feeling me / I’m feeling the vibe” – right at the beginning, in her inflexions, you can hear hints of how Hus delivers his bars. But she is an artist, all in her own right, she effortlessly flits in between singing and rapping, with ease. But the vim she delivers her bars with and the way she carries the rhythm so smoothly, it seems like rapping is what comes more naturally to her. Either way, keep your eyes and your ears out for what she does next.
Juls ft Tay Iwar, P-rallel – 1985
Official vibemaker Juls connects with another up and coming vibemaker, P-rallel and alté/R&B sensation Tay Iwar to take us back in time on ‘1985’. With soulful bass strings and melodic guitars, the song starts unassumingly. Before Tay Iwar hops onto the chorus and the song fully kicks into life, ‘1985’ features the same bass and guitar compositions that are found all over P-rallel’s breakout EP Soundboy – soulful, uplifting, rhythmic – his approach to production works well alongside Juls’ sharp ear for creating music that can curate an atmosphere. Tay Iwar’s smooth delivery on the chorus mixed in with staccato cuts of “you got me singing on and on, yeah / you got me singing on and on” blends together in a very mobile and funk-inspired direction. Will be keeping this in rotation.