Ghetts – On Purpose, With Purpose

A terrific, multi-faceted album from a UK rap legend...

For the best part of two decades, Ghetts has been a talismanic figure in the UK rap sphere. The East London artist has helped define the genre of grime through his unique skill set of ferocious flows paired with elite wordplay and lyricism. His previous two releases, ‘Ghetto Gospel II: The New Testament’, and ‘Conflict Of Interest’, have both been seminal works, moving away from grime and reinventing his own signature sound, with the latter project securing his status as one of the UK’s greatest.

His latest album, ‘On Purpose, With Purpose’, continues Ghetts’ hot streak. The soulful Band Of Thieves sample sets the tone for the introductory track, which is rounded off by a powerful excerpt from Martin Luther King’s final speech; demonstrative of the weight and gravity of this artist’s craft. Fans of the rapper will be aware of his ability to tap into an intense, fierce tirade of bars, but on this project we see more restraint. Previously he has made reference to his three alter egos – Ghetts, Ghetto, and Justin – which was also the inspiration for his last album cover. ‘On Purpose, With Purpose’ is probably the first project where the appearance of Ghetto (his first stage name and the character he utilises for his manic flows and delivery) is not necessarily present.

We can still hear Ghetts’ venom find its way to the forefront in moments throughout the record. Tracks like ‘Stylish Nxxxa’ alongside Lancey Foux and the back end of ‘Blood On My Hands’ with Unknown T see the artist add more tempo to his flow, but across the project there is an overall greater sense of composure in his intonation. There is a clear evolution from his previous works where he would hook the listener through his electricity as a performer, whereas this release sees a more measured approach that showcases his unparalleled storytelling ability, as well as his knack for finding pockets in beats that very few others would even try to seek out.

Ghetts manages to achieve this with the backing of an all star cast. With only four of the eighteen strong tracklist not containing featured artists, sometimes this can smack of a lazy approach and a grab for other streaming numbers. However this record still manages to feel cohesive as the guests allow Ghetts to explore other sonic avenues. The legendary figures of Kano and Wretch 32 join the rapper on the aptly named ‘Mount Rushmore’, while Sampha delivers a beautiful performance on the powerful, politically charged ‘Double Standards’. We also see Ghetts traverse the genres of afrobeats and Amapiano as he’s joined by the likes of Harry Aye and Muzi, offering a different departure for the rapper.

What also stands out about this album is its musicality – something that is often lacking in UK rap projects of late. Ghetts has found an excellent production team through his work with TenBillion Dreams, who manages to complement his rapping style perfectly. There is a richness and depth to each track while as a whole the album offers enough variation sonically to remain interesting. The production from Splurgeboys on ‘Tumbi’ in particular brings the album back to life when it slightly loses momentum in the middle of the tracklist, making the track a standout.

Ghetts is one of the last of his generation that still remains relevant musically. ‘On Purpose, With Purpose’ shows an artist who continues to be authentic, whilst also realising that at this stage of his career he needs to adapt his style in order to achieve greatness. The features are demonstrative of someone with their finger on the pulse, and across the album there are multiple moments that show that Ghetts is a superior figure within UK Rap music. Even at this stage of his career, this is a talent who consistently reaches the pinnacle of their craft ,and sets the pace across the multiple generations of UK music that his career has spanned.

8/10

Words: Joe Simpson

-
Join the Clash mailing list for up to the minute music, fashion and film news.