Mixtape Review: ‘Illegal’ – Yunghydro

Teesside rapper and producer Denzel Munzara AKA Yunghydro has a unique story to tell with his new mixtape ‘Illegal’. The 24-year-old is currently fighting an on-going battle with the Home Office to stay in the UK, after being given a deportation order almost 6 years ago. This deportation order restricts YH from being educated or working in the UK; this includes a ban on making music because it’s considered work.

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However, evidenced by this new project, YH has no plans on giving up his dreams of making it in the music industry; using the ‘Illegal’ mixtape as a statement of defiance towards the Home Office. According to YH, the title ‘Illegal’ was chosen because he believes the restrictions placed on him by the Home Office are illegal and the fact that he’s still continuing to make music will also be considered illegal by the Home Office.

Given the serious context this mixtape is born out of, you’d be forgiven for thinking that it’s just going to be 30-minutes of YH aggressively calling the Home Office all of the worst words he can think of, with no real replay value or discernible ‘songs’. Thankfully though, you’d be wrong to think that. YH has dubbed this mixtape ‘The Very Best of Teesside Trap’ and with good reason; the tape is packed with club-worthy contemporary trap bangers, whilst also having serious lyrical content hiding just beneath the surface.

On the intro track, YH addresses his issues with the Home Office head-on, arguing that the way they’ve treated him by preventing him seeing his kid should be illegal. “Tag” stands out as one of the best tracks on the project, perfectly mixing no-nonsense grit-filled lyricism with cavernous floor-filling beats.

However, for every track that falls into the ‘trap with substance’ category, like “This Life”, there’s another that regrettably falls into the ‘cliché ridden repetitive trap’ category, like “Captain”. The same goes for YH’s use of vocal effects; for each bit of auto-tune or distortion that works, there’s another vocal that feels so washed out in effects that it loses all personality.

Yunghydro has achieved something that a lot of artists try and fail to do with ‘Illegal’; he’s constructed a project around a serious topic whilst still making it commercially viable and radio worthy. Yes, sometimes YH falls into the trap of overproducing some of these tracks, using too many vocal effects or shoehorning random samples into the mix, but, on the whole, ‘Illegal’ is a sound effort at putting a gritty Teesside spin on the ever-popular American trap sound.

Given the fact that YH has more or less ‘broken the law’ in making this tape, I beg you give it a listen.
By Johnathan Ramsay

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