So just last week I wrote my review of DaVinChe’s #POWERS album and spoke about how this project was more than just an album but a showcase of UK urban music as it stands in 2017 (see full review here https://mansneverbeenin.wordpress.com/2017/01/21/review-davinche-tasha-demi-powers/ ). This week I am proud to give you my review of “New Gen” a compilation album released by XL Recordings and curated by Caroline Simionescu-Marin featuring 17 up and coming UK rap/grime/urban artists. Now I’m going to sound like a broken record, but like I said in my review of DaVinChe’s powers, it is absolutely incredible to see an album like this bringing together various artists and styles across the scene and giving an exhibition of what UK music is about right now. Seriously I feel like I could write a whole essay on that topic so I’m going to dial it down a bit and focus on this album. Must say here though that there is so much going on with this album that to go through each track in detail would take forever so I’m going to focus on what stuck out most to me.
To start off the range of genres on this track is insane with Grime, Rap, Trap and R&B all present and the artist list is even more impressive! Opening with “Welcome to the New Gen” Avelino and Bonkaz, set out there manifesto for the upcoming album with Avelino using his calm relaxed wordplay to remind the listener of why they should already know who he is “Yeah young fire, can’t you feel the flame / Don’t hate the player, hate the fact that Imma kill the game” and Bonkaz announcing himself with his dark introspective flow “Yeah, they hate the fact that I’m just still the same / Funny how I just left the roads to build a lane / and I’m forever cold but I still feel the pain / tell him don’t get involved, you might get killed today”. I wrote a post earlier this week speaking about how Dave and J Hus’s new song “Samantha” showed perfectly 2 MC’s displaying great lyrical chemistry (please check that out if you’re interested) and the same is very true here. On this track Avelino and Bonkaz have great lyrical chemistry on their shared verse, I love how they jump on the back of each others rhymes and how this flows seamlessly. This illustrates one of my favourite things about albums like this, the potential for exciting collaborations which you would not expect to see under normal circumstances. The prime example for this in my opinion was the collaboration between Stefflon Don and Abra Cadabra, who have in my opinion 2 of the most distinctive musical styles in UK music at the moment, “Money Haffi Mek” which immediately caught my attention when I originally saw the tracklist. Now this is in reality a Stefflon Don track with Abra Cadabra supplying a single verse and whilst I would have liked more of his vocals, perhaps a duet on the chorus, this is still in my opinion one of the standout tracks on the album and owes that to Stefflon Don’s unique style.
Elsewhere on the album artists like RAY BLK and Kojey Radical show how UK rap music is much more than just Grime! I was not familiar with RAY BLK’s music beforehand but immediately had to check out her other stuff after hearing “Busy”. I absolutely loved her clever, conscious rap, which reminded me of a British version of Noname, and her powerful, soulful singing on the chorus. Kojey’s Radical’s style is the most left field of all those on display and completely goes against the listeners expectations for UK rap music. “Fuck Your Feelings” is a slow burning track with some of the best wordplay on the album alongside his unconventional timing and rhyme scheme “In with the facts / Remember when I used / To rock the waves with the dax. Mile in your shoes / Don’t suit these tracks. Nose too big ,but the skin too black / Hair too long but the skin don’t crack / With the Vaseline melanin / All we ever needed was base line jumping”. I love how this Kojey track is straight after a trap banger, “Jackets” by 67, on the tracklist and how the variety of genres on this album are interwoven so you don’t know exactly what your going to get next. This is very important in my opinion because the range of genres and the artists on the album give listeners an opportunity to discover new music and new artists outside of their usual listening range. Personally I discovered the music of RAY BLK, Renz, Yxng Bane and Dotty from this album and they are sure to be added to my music library.
The effort that everyone behind this album has put in is evident throughout, the production quality is top class and every track is pristine, clearly recorded especially for this album. That makes this more than just a compilation or even a collaborative album in my opinion; the best analogy I can use to describe it is like a film with an ensemble cast of rising stars but no main lead. My last comment to make on this album is how I love the references and shout outs made to “New Gen” throughout, which really show the commitment of the artists to this project. The title of opener “Welcome to the New Gen”, “I might slew them running with new gen” on TE dness’s “Rather Get Money”, “They can’t stop the ting, the new generation” and “New Gen goin platinum baby” on 67’s Jackets; even a clip of Caroline SM on New Gen radio introducing “Kojey Radical’s “Fuck your Feelings”. It’s little touches like this that in my opinion elevate this album and show that “New Gen” is more than just a collection of artists but something special and an excellent portrayal of UK urban music!
Favourite Tracks: “Welcome to the New Gen”, “Busy”, “Money Haffi Mek”, “Jackets”, “Fuck Your Feelings”, “Thoughts”
Please be sure to check out New Gen and stream below via spotify!
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