There’s no doubting that UK Rap’s dominant textures currently revolve around the sonics of Drill. With Canadian industry behemoth Drake jumping on a M1OnTheBeat production and getting spun (obviously) by Headie One, the genre is climbing to stratospheric heights. But 23 year-old Backroad Gee isn’t content with simply riding the dominant wave; one listen of his recent uproarious ‘Mad About Bars’ freestyle confirms this. And with the release of his ‘MuktaVSMukta’ EP, the London rapper carves a lane for himself as a singular, striking talent.
Across seven tracks, BRG showcases his uniquely dexterous, emphatic, unpredictable flow, which is informed as much by his Congolese heritage as it is by road parlance. Artists embracing and showcasing their African identities is an important element of UK Rap. A standout is the anthemic ‘Party Popper Remix’; a Pan-African link-up with Pa Salieu and Ambush Buzzworl. There’s an irrepressible chemistry between the three, which bubbles madly over Finn Wigan’s ominous, percussive production. This is dark, mosh-pit ready music at its best.
Sonically, there are some nods to UK Drill; the sliding bass on ‘My Famlee’ underpins BRG’s snappy bars and street boasts. That being said, his raw energy often leans towards the industrial reverberations and rapid-fire tempo of grime; Produced by Levi Lennox, ‘It is what it is’ is an explosive, distinctly grimy affair, with some Francophone lyrics and a ‘Vikings’ reference personal highlights.
But it’s the project’s closing two tracks, ‘Dirty Business’ and ‘Paramount’ which find BRG at his most innovative. The former’s xylophonic melody echoes long lost sounds of UK Garage, while the bass again points towards UK Drill. The melody’s contrast with BRG’s gruff tone works well here, emphasising the self-assured vibe required to pull off bars about girls arching their backs without sounding ridiculous. The latter’s uncluttered flute-led production offers a platform for BRG to briefly let his guard down as he raps, “My life was hard, look man we came this far / They try break my heart, farda said you gon’ be a star.”
‘MuktaVSMukta’ is an excellent project. Backroad Gee’s ability to look backwards and absorb elements from past scenes to create music which is forward-thinking is evident here. Nobody in UK Rap is doing what he is doing vocally, utilising his voice as an instrument as opposed to purely spitting over a beat. He absolutely is going to be a star.
Words: Robert Kazandjian
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