South-West London’s ‘Wizard of Wandsworth’ Che Lingo is undoubtedly a versatile artist. Across today’s UK Rap landscape, versatility is becoming increasingly common, as the once clearly defined borders between respective genres melt away. Che’s confident with the flows, from grime, to mellow jazz-leaning rap to trap. On debut album ‘The Worst Generation’ he does them all with a subtle assuredness. It’s definitely impressive, yes.
But when you couple Che’s musical dexterity with his unwaveringly honest, often-introspective lyricism, then it elevates an impressive project into something truly special. “I’m not scared of vulnerability, ‘cos I know my place on the earth” he states on ‘A Bit Insecure (interlude)’, an ode to the healing power of Black love. Kojey Radical-assisted ‘Dark Days’ follows, continuing to interrogate that theme over a moving string-led melody; it’s one of the album’s many highlights.
It’s not all down-tempo, pensive reflections though. Forceful ‘My Block’ demands your attention, its atmospheric production effectively matching the mood of righteous anger and frustration in Che’s bars as he addresses the injustices young Black people in the UK routinely face. The track is inspired by Julian Cole, who was left brain damaged and paralysed after being brutalised by police outside a Bedford nightclub in 2013.
‘Black Ones’ explores the claustrophobia of the ends, especially when you’re trying to manage your mental health. “The mind is a battlefield” Che declares. The track features a Ghetts verse full of OG wisdom and the controlled rage which has come to typify his later career, and is yet another reminder that he’s a legit national treasure.
‘Hunch’ is a personal standout. Sonically, it sits at the intersection between UK Garage and grime. Che’s bars are rapid-fire here as he considers who he can and can’t trust. The content is typically thoughtful, and his openness is something we should always commend: “therapy I need it cah my whole life’s restless.”
Words: Robert Kazandjian
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