Having missed a couple Track of the Week posts with being on holiday, I reached out on Facebook for your suggestions on tracks I’ve been sleeping on (ones I didn’t review, didn’t give TOTW to or whatever else) to review. And shit I’ve missed a lot.
As promised, I’ve reviewed virtually all of your suggestions below as honestly as possible, only leaving out tracks that were released more than a couple of months ago.
REMEMBER, these reviews are just the opinion of one man, it’s ok to disagree. So… you know… chill out man.
E-Mence – “Life In A Daze”
The first single dropped from Sunderland macabre emcee E-Mence‘s upcoming album ‘Ambitiously Unambitious’, “Life In A Daze” sees the rapper on top form. Pace jumping flows and gritty lyrics, E-Mence makes stoner rap with an exciting edge. The droning vocals on the chorus aren’t X-Factor winning, but they do the job of creating a hazy, smoked-out vibe. It’s a yes from me.
Scrannabis and Left-Blank – “Comply”
“Comply” is one of the better tracks from fresh face on the scene Scrannabis‘ debut EP, featuring fellow newcomer to the NE Left-Blank. Overall the EP left me wanting a little more from Scran, his flows show a lot of potential but the beats and lyrics felt a little flat. Evidenced on this track where Left-Blank steals the spotlight with his slick feature. Scrannabis is a young artist worth keeping an eye on though, this is just the start for him, I’m predicting there’s much more to come.
Chris Sayers x DH – “Someone You Loved (Rap Remix)”
A ‘rap remix’ of a pop song peaks my interest a lot less than a completely original track, but if executed well they can be passable. This track is just that. Teessider Chris Sayers often finds his videos shared across social media due to their specific ‘concept’ based content that aims for the heartstrings, this one described as a “mental health concept video to spread awareness and reduce suicide and increase communication”. I’m in no doubt that these ‘concept’ tracks are created with good intentions, but they can often feel a little disingenuous and gimmicky.
Nonetheless, if Chris’ videos like this do raise awareness for the issues he highlights and do bring light into the lives of people suffering from these issues then that’s surely a good thing. Regardless, there’s no arguing that Chris has spades of ability and brings a unique brand of hip-hop to our local scene. In reality he doesn’t need a gimmick.
Listaa x Arcane Soakes – “Thoughts In 3D”
Quirky Irish import Arcane Soakes has quickly made an impact since releasing music in the NE, collaborating with some of the scene’s most respected artists like Smooth Jezza and Listaa. Co-signs aside, Arcane is definitely an acquired taste, his whiney cadence hard to appreciate at first but it soon grew on me. ‘Thoughts in 3D”, like the majority of Arcane’s releases, features topical lyrical content presented in an unconventional and wacky way. He’s got something fresh, there’s no one else doing what he does right now.
SQUARMS feat. KV$HNOODLE, John Dole & Philth Like – “Liquid Love”
Big fan of this collab, four of the most interesting up and coming artists in the North East all on one track. Each one of them brings their own personality to this psychedelic piece. The SQUARMS boys do a great job of being the glue between the feature artists’ verses, creating a cut that’s compelling from start to finish. “Liquid Love” is a five-minute masterpiece that offers a snapshot of our hip-hop scene’s healthy diversity.
Freddy – “Step Back”
A man on his own wave, “Step Back” is classic Freddy. Neck breaking screams and flows are the order of the day, Freddy is continuing to sharpen his style and really hone in on what makes him stand out on this one. Freddy is on the rise, ready to pull the rug from under the scene.
Gilly Man Giro – “Addicted”
A vet in the North East known for his sense of humour, Gilly Man Giro takes us all back to reality with a bang on this deeply personal yet accessible track about alcohol addiction. This is genuinely one of my favourite tracks of the year so far. Gilly Man not only raps a tale of his own struggles with absolute transparency, he also manages to mould it into a song that you just want to replay again and again. There’s a lot of good rappers in the North East, but there’s only a few that can successfully turn straight bars into fully-fledged songs. Gilly has managed to do that with finesse on “Addicted”. It’s got a message, the bars are top shelf and the hook is infectious – what more could you ask for?
Abi Nyxx – “The ScapeGOAT”
One of the few artists featured in this article making their debut on the site, it’s fair to say Abi Nyxx is the most talked new rapper doing the rounds on everyone’s timelines right now. Seemingly emerging from nowhere, Abi’s “The ScapeGOAT” video has amassed over 36K views and almost 1k likes on Facebook in just two weeks. The hype is definitely real, Abi seems to have bars for days. She’s snuck fast up and looking to take over, I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled for Abi’s next release.
Ryza – “Take A Look At Me Now”
One of the realist artists in the North East, Ryza‘s known for making tracks that go hard and “Take A Look At Me Now” is no different. No surprises there. However, it’s the hook that delivers the biggest punch on this track. Not a guy I had down as a hit chorus maker, Ryza has proved me wrong on this $.O.N.N.Y produced joint. He sounds smooth despite clearly stepping out of his comfort zone. A big step forward that has us massively looking forward to his upcoming mixtape “#YAW”.
J.Spinkz – “Another Overdose”
I’ve never been bowled over by the music of relative newcomer to the North East J.Spinkz, and unfortunately, “Another Overdose” still isn’t hitting the mark for me. Granted, the lyrical content that J.Spinkz covers in this track is deeply personal; he talks on his mental health and suicidal tendencies with pure transparency and that kind of bravery on a track is to be respected. But the flows and delivery feel stagnant and nursery rhyme like. J clearly has a fire burning in him to create music, but there’s still a lot of improvement to be made and there’s no shame in that.
Silver Fox – “TearAway Sessions #1”
The first of a new freestyle series from Teesside promotions company KUSH, “TearAway Session #1” sees Mark Stacey aka Silver Fox step into the booth. Having only known Mark in his capacity as a graphic designer, I was pleasantly surprised that he can really spit bars. Flowing at 100MPH from the get-go, Mark really does prove himself a decent rapper. We’ll gloss over all the lyrics where he fantasies about being various serial killers in the hope that he doesn’t actually murder me. Mark’s definitely one you and Northumbria Police should keep an eye on.
Philth Like – “Wasteman Spaceman”
There’s nothing more exciting than hearing something that’s completely fresh, completely individual. “Wasteman Spaceman” and the rest of Philth Like‘s recent output has been exactly that. It’s gritty yet somehow smooth, like Mike Skinner on psychedelics… and from Sunderland. It’s fun as well, Philth isn’t taking himself too seriously. His whole approach is refreshing, he’s not caring about what’s trendy, he’s just making what he likes. And fuck, it works.
Scapegoat Avarice – “sceNE freestyle”
Track of the year. Obviously.