Review: Giggs – ‘Landlord’

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In terms of its overall presentation and texture, ‘Landlord’ never truly lets go of a raw, unprocessed, ground level quality.

There’s nothing at all shiny or glamorous about the UK rap release, and so naturally it will deter some music fans.

Still, for those becoming a little weary of the industry’s current crop of presentable, attention grabbing, flashy hip-hop artists – ‘Landlord’ should provide a breath of fresh air.

As 33-year-old Londoner Giggs briefly mentions on his fourth studio album’s somewhat unsound intro, he’s in no way distracted by a need to infiltrate the mainstream charts and this definitely aids the album’s all-conquering grit.

The production on ‘Landlord’ won’t change the rap game, a handful of the beats can be found on many other artists’ recent LP’s or online mixtapes – in one form or another. Yet, much to his credit, what takes these commonplace beats to another level is Giggs himself.

The self-proclaimed Landlord is joined by fellow UK emcees Stormzy and Dubz on ‘The Blow Back’. After Stormzy confidently re-ignites the six-minute epic, Dubz takes a completely different approach and infuses proceedings with a lively, rebellious unpredictability.

Quickly separating itself from other UK rap tracks that explore deep passion and sexuality, the slow-burning smoulder of ‘The Process’ actually feels sexy. Giggs flaunts an intense, penetrating swagger over the creeping, understated production of highlight ‘Just Swervin’.

The bass-heavy, chuggy beats of ‘Slippin’ contain the LP’s most immediate appeal. Plus, the cut easily allows Giggs to establish himself to listeners as a singular, multi-faceted rap force in his own right – admittedly, ‘Landlord’ would benefit from a slight culling of guest artists.

That being said, London rapper and producer CasIsDead makes the first of two pretty powerful appearances on ‘501 (Hollow & Heston)’.

There’s a moment towards the middle of the tune where its hook begins to feel flat. Nevertheless, just after this section – with a trademark grunt – Giggs balances it out with rounds of snappy, startlingly vigorous wordplay.
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Source: Instagram @officialgiggs

London UK funky artist Donea’o makes a guest appearance over the seductive, minimalist beatwork of ‘Lock Doh’, which has Giggs reflecting scantily on the scantily-clad ladies that surround him. Joined by Youngs Teflon, Liverpudlian emcee Aystar’s accent makes its mark within the memorable, brass-led beatwork of ‘The Best’.

Featuring esteemed New Orleans-born singer/songwriter and producer Rico Love, ‘Of Course’ is an R&B-infused offering.

Sandwiched between two abrasive tunes, ‘Of Course’ sounds strikingly saccharine – and yet even here, Giggs somehow manages to rough it up while touching upon personal issues that include the loss of much missed family members and his own children.

Ultimately though, the two artists’ differing musical standpoints come together questionably at best – ‘Of Course’ might be the LP’s only true misstep.

Initially ‘Savage’ doesn’t stand out on the tracklisting. Like much of ‘Landlord’ it impacts gradually with charging, menacing, bulky yet accessible production. Still, rapper Kyze’s contribution doesn’t disappoint, and it’s easy to appreciate Giggs’ lyrical quirks and presence on this one.

On ‘Clipped Him’, fellow rapper Gunna Dee eagerly lays the groundwork for Giggs’ unhurried, deep toned, rhythmic rapping to step in to take centrestage. The tune doesn’t truly take off until he does, then again, the pairs’ delivery styles aren’t worlds apart.

Giggs weaves drastically in-between an urgent flow and more relaxed delivery on spaced-out, free-falling, trap-fuelled cut ‘The New Sh*t’.

There are moments on ‘Landlord’ where Giggs can sound overly rested, but there’s no letting up on the razor-sharp, undeniably tight standout ‘Lyrical Combat’ – which sees both CasIsDead and Dubz reunite with the rapper.

CasIsDead, Dubz and Giggs come together comfortably here. There’s energy, drive and fire galore as they collectively head-butt their way through well-worn topics like pushing drugs, defying the police and rattling up the neighbours.

Verdict: ******** 8/10

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Single Review: Wavy Jones – ‘They Won’t Be Home For Christmas’

 

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Recorded on Christmas Day, ‘They Won’t Be Home For Christmas’ is the lead single from US production outfit Wavy Jones’ upcoming album ‘as we stand amongst ourselves’ – due out next month.

Spearheaded by the group’s newest member, old Major (real name Noah Stewart), the track is a warm R&B-influenced instrumental, enhanced by ambient elements and touches of trap.

Without a trace of self-pity, the tune is encased in reflective, lonesome atmospheres and melancholy synths.

Because of this textured backdrop, ‘They Won’t Be Home For Christmas’ easily provides depth – so vocals aren’t ever really needed to flesh things out.

After its midway point however, towards its climax, the track’s hip-hop roots shuffle further into the spotlight.

Steely, impactful, cutthroat beats blend with the instrumental’s searching, wandering, lost tones.

This balance is alluringly maintained throughout the cut’s duration – and is in many ways the reason for its success.

Find ‘They Won’t Be Home For Christmas’ on Spotify.

Review: Wavy Jones – ‘Swishers & 7-Irons’

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The latest mixtape from US-based, recently formed production outfit Wavy Jones ‘Swishers & 7-Irons’ explores a number of different music genres and is crammed with ideas.

Featuring the work of beatmakers DJ MUNday and Vinny Goldberg, shining with all kinds of promise, the tracklisting feels cohesive and like a collection throughout its duration – even when it shouldn’t.

While the arrangements themselves suffer from no major voids, a problem lies within the album’s overall presentation and general production value.

The synths used on ‘Swishers & 7-Irons’ can sound basic.

The worst offenders feel demo-y, they undermine the impact certain tracks could have and furthermore imprison the LP in an amateurish bubble from which it doesn’t really escape.

Of course, nowadays all kinds of breaking/DIY music artists on limited funds record material in make shift studios.

Yet regardless of how much or little ‘Swishers & 7-Irons’ actually cost to make, several of its instrumentals sound comparatively low budget and unrefined – this is especially distracting since ‘Swishers & 7-Irons’ is essentially vocal free.

It’s easy to envision casual listeners, spoiled for choice in today’s stream-ready, immediate, on-demand music scene, being quickly turned off by this.

Partly due to the aforementioned issue, the record’s continuous attempts at experimentalism feel overly ambitious – like eager attempts to cover ground already crossed by charting artists.

In the case of ‘The Chasm Ate It’ and similar tunes, the group’s grandiose visions feel premature. Wavy Jones’ ability to be experimental, as well as slick and polished to an industry standard, is not completely there – yet.

As a result, the LP’s more out-of-the-box efforts don’t leave a lasting mark.

Interestingly though, the impactful cuts on ‘Swishers & 7-Irons’ – the ones that stand the best chance of realistically competing in the big bad music industry – are based in and around R&B and hip-hop.

‘Shanked’ is intriguing. Elevated by a light effortlessness, the R&B/soul tune brings darkness, mystery and much needed intricacy to the tracklisting.

It whips up a sense of sexiness and although it eventually morphs into something altogether less gripping, ‘Shanked’ stays slick – and worlds away from the project’s low points.

‘Ranger Danger’ is a tougher, old-skool hip-hop instrumental. At just under two minutes long, the arresting cut begs to be extended and craves polish – on the other hand, it should surely appeal to lyricists looking for an unfurnished edge to their beats.

A contemporary, urban club feel is visited on ‘Double Bogey’. Again, its elements don’t always feel particularly glossy – yet a hard to resist bump propels the cut’s encouraging beatwork forward.

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Taken from @WavyJonesMusic

Working another formidable bassline, hip-hop instrumental ‘Cellz’ proves Wavy Jones understand the fundamentals of a decent rap tune.

But again, because a ‘made with logic’ feel blights it – and is sure to keep it off today’s stringent urban radio – ‘Cellz’ would benefit from flashier, luxurious sounding synths and instrumental pads.

‘Down In The Villas’ and single ‘Weekend’ would also be enhanced by something similar – then again the latter’s reachability slowly generates appeal. ‘Weekend’ might be the one tune on ‘Swishers & 7-Irons’ which benefits from a no-frills sort of setup.

On more than a few occasions the record’s better ideas are presented as snippets or previews, while the more mundane, everyday compositions are given the full on treatment – which is a shame.

Before ‘Arnie’ descends into something overly complicated, it attractively brings together dance beats with flute sounds – whilst managing to maintain spacious breathing room.

It could be said of the entire record that the inclusion of specialised vox pops and clips of casual conversation is overdone, however this is especially true of ‘Arnie’ – the music should be allowed to do more of the talking.

The experimental elements peppered throughout ‘7-Irons’ fracture the aura of the track somewhat.

That being said, as the tune plays out, things get sharper and more professional sounding. Its wickedly warped, inviting eighties synths and deep, rounded beats standout.

The main guitar riff of ‘Vicodin’ is stylish and gives the tune a swag that is appealing. Background vocals are eventually brought in, making things more wholesome.

Contrasting hugely with the tracks it’s sandwiched between, ‘Swishers’ a delicate string-laden affair. The tune allows Wavy Jones to successfully explore more musical ground.

The latter third of ‘Swishers & 7-Irons’ can get comfortable, at times sliding into easy listening territory. The friendly, unhurried, almost whimsical ‘17th’ for example, would easily fit into the background of a cutesy, fantasy video game.

Similar to the atmospheric, dreamy, lushly light twilight core of ‘Kart Me Off’ – though vastly superior – the end of day vibe hinted at within the title of ‘Mansard Sunset’ is communicated attractively on the tune itself.

Despite the cut’s alert basslines and energy, it almost transports listeners to the beach of their choice. Between hopeful piano tones, a psychedelic vibe even creeps in periodically.

Verdict: Packed with charm and absolutely heaving with inventive, creative ideas ‘Swishers & 7-Irons’ drips with potential.

However, it plays out like something only the group’s inner circle would truly enjoy.

Because the project’s general sound does not shake off an ‘I did this in my bedroom’ sense, it’s unlikely ‘Swishers & 7-Irons’ will be the material that expands Wavy Jones to a wider audience.