In this week’s Rap Rundown, we’ve got a new album from the godfather of grime, Wiley, a new collaboration from Bonkaz and Renz, and a few words on Davinche’s compilation LP, ‘Powers’.
If you’ve followed the story of grime from its conception, you should be familiar with the story of the godfather of the genre, Wiley. As one of the MCs who could arguably be credited with founding grime, Wiley’s excursion through music has run parallel to the progress of the London-born rap subgenre and his latest album ‘Godfather’ became one of the most highly anticipated releases in grime history.
The album campaign wasn’t easy for Wiley fans. The release date was up in the air for a while and at one point, after being told by a friend that he didn’t have what it took to make it in the new age of grime, Wiley almost pulled the plug on the album entirely. But, after a bit of an emotional roller-coaster, the date was confirmed and we were told to expect the album on January 13.
Now, as a music fan, you’ll know that the more expectations there are surrounding an album release, the more pressure there is on the project. So, when release day comes, there are always keyboard warriors poised to criticize the release and voice their inevitable disappointment. Unfortunately for the sceptics, he dropped a progressive, heavyweight grime album that was loyal to the origins of the genre and at the same time represented the new age.
Firstly, there’s the features. Wiley has been around for a minute now and because of his long-standing position in grime, he’s been able to oversee its development and the progress of the artists who’ve been integral to its growth. Therefore, when it came to choosing who he wanted to feature on ‘Godfather’, Wiley was in the perfect position to make an educated decision and the outcome was pretty epic. The album features some of London’s biggest and best MCs including Devlin, JME, Frisco, J2K, D Double E, Footsie, President T, Flowdan, Jamakabi, Ghetts, Skepta, Belly, Chip, Ice Kid, Little D, Scratchy, Lethal Bizzle, Breeze, Manga and P Money. The formidable feature artists didn’t outshine Wiley, however. They perfectly embellished each track and every MC showcased the undeniable influence Wiley has had on them.
As well as choosing the best lyricists to work with, Wiley carefully selected some heavyweight producers, including the likes of Preditah and Teddy Music, to lay down a few beats on the album. Again, as a prolific grime producer himself, he was in the perfect position to make an educated decision and listening to ‘Godfather’, it’s obvious Wiley had a very specific sound he wanted to create and knew exactly who would be able to assist him.
In my opinion, the features, production and authenticity make the album an instant grime classic and if it is, as Wiley has mentioned, his last LP, it definitely provides a substantial body of work to sign off with. There’s nostalgic references in there for the old-school grime heads and, as well as this, there’s a neo-grime sound which proves that Wiley will always have what it takes to make it in the ever-developing scene which was arguably created by the godfather himself.
Last week also saw some exciting releases elsewhere in the UK scene – one of them being ‘Boom Bye Bye’ from Renz and Bonkaz. The pair have been working together regularly for years, on projects including their NBA tapes, so the chemistry between the New Gen ambassadors is undeniable. Their latest collaboration, which is accompanied by some minimalistic visuals, combines Renz’s vibey vocals with Bonkaz’s distinctive rap style to create a ridiculously catchy UK rap anthem.
If you’re a fan of UK rap and the up and coming artists that have recently been emerging from the scene, you’ll be aware that it is getting pretty competitive. Musicians are releasing new tracks daily so to separate yourself from the rest, as an artist, you have to approach your releases differently. I feel like Renz an Bonkaz do that well. Rather than polluting the internet with a barrage of videos and SoundCloud links, the pair hibernate in the studio and reappear when they’ve produced a product which they have worked hard on that deserves your attention. Check out the visuals for their new track ‘Boom Bye Bye’ below.
As well as counting down the hours until Wiley’s album drop, last week I went down to Relentless No. 5 for the live preview of Davinche’s compilation album, ‘Powers’, which features the likes of Mikill Pane, Jerome Thomas, Allana Verde, Celetia Martin, Scorcher, Ghetts, Mercston, Sam Sure, Fee Gonzales, Young T, Bugsey, Big Tobz, TE dness, Blittz, Izzie Gibbs, Double S, Rapid, Olivia Louise, Capo Lee, Mic Ty, Jammz, Baseman, J Dot, Pressure, Shizz McNaughty, Parris Wright, Tre Mission, Merky Ace, P Money, Elf Kid, Manga Saint Hilare, Jessica Agombar and Rocket.
At the listening party, Davinche and Tasha Demi, who curated and put together the project, invited press and tastemakers to listen to the album in full with a few live performances to accompany the preview. They also screened footage of a few of the artists in the studio, recording various tracks from the LP.
For me, watching the studio sessions and a couple of the live performances, there were a few tracks that stood out. Mikill Pane’s appearance on ‘Never Stop’ introduced a poetic maturity which embellished the intro and complimented the vocal performances from Jerome Thomas, Allana Verde and Celetia Martin. Another highlight for me was ‘Ring Ring’ ft. Big Tobz, TE dness, Blittz and Izzie Gibbs. The energy of Tobz and TE encompassed the ethos of the project and the up and coming talent it was put together to showcase.
Get a taste of what the project has in store – watch the first video to be released from the project below: