Album Review: ‘Calm’ – Listaa

Released February 2018, ‘Calm’ is the latest project from Sunderland grime MC Listaa.

Since coming into the rap game back in 2015, Listaa has continued to gain respect from his peers and fans of the local hip-hop scene alike due to his raw talent and no-frills approach to making music.

The Wearside rapper’s fourth project, Calm, is his best effort to date. The album feels like a cathartic piece, with Listaa reflecting on how far he has come since first stepping behind a mic. He lays his past troubles out for the world to see in this album, whilst also setting out a mission statement to focus on the future with his head held high.

The nine track project starts in top gear from the outset, with opener “Wannabe” jumping straight into a bouncy grime vibe. “Wannabe” knocks the ball out of the park, Listaa comfortably rides the pacey beat, delivering clear and well thought out bars with his unashamedly Wearside twang. Listaa’s style blows the ‘accent barrier’ theory as to why North East hip-hop isn’t widely listened to right out of the water; his bars are sharp and delivered with such conviction that it’d be hard for anyone in the UK to claim they didn’t understand what’s being said. Content wise, the track is Listaa’s declaration of individuality; he doesn’t want to be a sheep to gain acceptance and even goes as far as giving advice to other upcoming rappers to be themselves and give it time rather than giving up – it’s refreshing to see a rapper preaching such positivity in their bars, rather than the usual ‘fuck everyone else’ attitude.

‘Calm’ includes verses from Claymore, E-Mence, Raza, DrewRich and Noble – making a total of five features – all of them are top level features in their own right but two stood out from the rest. Claymore on “Firing Line” demanded attention; he’s a fresh face in the hip-hop scene and this verse showed an immense amount of potential – his bassy, Giggs-esque flow compliments Listaa’s skippy speed as if they were Ying and Yang. Secondly, Raza’s verse on “Ready” brought one word to mind – progress. After listening to tracks featuring Raza from 2015 and seeing his various freestyles on YouTube, it’s clear after three years that the young MC has progressed massively; his flow is sharper and he sounds so much more confident behind the mic.

With You” is the only track on the album that doesn’t quite match the level set by the rest of the project – mostly due to the chipmunk-like squeaky voiced sample. Listaa himself is without fault, but the sample for the chorus sounds like something by DJ Cammy that you might have had on your phone in Year 8.

See Me” is another stand out track, as it basically encapsulates the entire feeling of the album in one song. The theme of reflection runs throughout ‘Calm’, and on “See Me” Listaa again reflects on hard situations he’s been through in the past and the run-ins he’s had with less than trustworthy people; but through all of that he has moved forward, he has progressed. ‘Calm’ feels like a checkpoint in Listaa’s journey, he’s looking ahead now with more confidence than ever before – and given the quality of this album, he has every right to.

3 white stars/5

Tracklist:

1.Wannabe
2.Rounds
3.Firing Line (Feat. Claymore)
4.Used To Be
5.Ready (Feat. E-Mence & Raza)
6.Defuse (Feat. DrewRich & Noble)
7. See Me
8. With You
9. Paper Plane

Listen Here

Words by J.Ramsay

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