D-Block Europe have always worn their American influences on their sleeves – from rapping about typically American drugs like lean to naming a song after Atlanta trap legend Gucci Mane on 2018’s ‘Any Minute Now’, their joint mixtape with Yxng Bane. Unfortunately, new album ‘The Blueprint – Us Vs. Them’ borrows another influence from US trap that has dragged down albums like Migos’ ‘Culture II’ and much of Gucci Mane’s output – a complete lack of quality control. Clocking in at 29 tracks and around an hour and a half long, this project is a real slog to get through and could have done with some pretty extensive trimming pre-release.
Most of the songs follow the familiar D-Block Europe template of bars about taking drugs, selling drugs, sleeping with women and shopping Selfridges, with mixed results. Opener ‘Destiny’ and previously released single ‘We Won’ showcase the autotuned bangers that soundtracked the duo’s meteoric rise, whilst ‘Michelin Star’ benefits from a woozy Stefflon Don feature, one of just three features on the project. None of these tread any new ground lyrically, but that’s never been the point of D-Block Europe’s music, and the vibe of all three is spot on.
The most interesting tracks on offer are those that delve a bit deeper into the realities of the lifestyle flaunted in the duo’s music, with ‘Shame on Me’ touching on themes of infidelity, trust issues, and drugs as a coping mechanism. It’s surprisingly honest and shows a vulnerability that the bravado doesn’t usually leave much room for. ‘Plain Jane’ strays into similarly dark territory, even with a chorus that pulls the track back into tales of dealing drugs and owning designer watches.
These high-points stand with the best of D-Block Europe’s output, but they’re few and far between and a lot of the time it’s hard to tell each track apart as icy trap synths form the backdrop to yet more talk of drugs, money and women. The songs that do stand out from the 20 or so paint-by- numbers efforts often do so for the wrong reasons, with ‘Whistle’ featuring maybe the most jarring and ill-advised whistle sample ever used on a rap song. There’s a good album in here somewhere, it’s just a shame you have to wade through so much mediocrity to get to it.
Words: Jake Hawkes
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