Refreshingly honest and open, this project sees both artists flourish...

A collaborative project is what was needed from Murkage Dave and Manga Saint Hilaire. They’d connected on tracks from their separate records, but at a low-key listening party at the start of December ‘We Need to Look After Us’ came as a surprise to most people, albeit a pleasant one. Both artists have different signature styles, with Manga coming from more of a grime background whilst Murkage derives his influence from RnB.

But where they align is in the vulnerability and openness in their lyrics. Along with this comes versatility: the project spans a range of instrumentals that could challenge any artist. ‘Can’t Keep Badman Down’ brings the GTA Vice City vibes, as a soulful sample plays over tinkling piano keys, in a song that’s about taking the L’s but never giving up. “The more you erase us, the more we will be right here,” sings Murkage on the hook.

Dave flourishes on the garage influenced tracks here. ‘Sweetboy Settings’ takes it back to peak Artful Dodger and Craig David, while a higher tempo is met on the playful ‘Walk the Walk’, where the duo discuss the fruits of their labours. The combination as a whole works well, both bouncing of each other. Murkage lays down the free-flowing hooks and Manga supplying the rhymes.

The latter end of the record is deeper and more personal. ‘Weird Kids In The Ends’ shows both at their most vulnerable, Manga opening up on a childhood of confusion and not fitting in: “I had a no phone, couldn’t find my calling”. On the closing track, both put their insecurities on the line, Murkage spitting truth with: “Nobody tells you when you’re too intense, they just reply less and less.”

With so much to dissect from the lyrics and direction of the album itself, let it take nothing away from the wild mix of instrumentals. Produced by the likes of Tre Mission and Goldteeth, their unique styles keep the tracks fresh and exciting. Overall, the songs present directions and sounds that open up the UK music scene further. Their openness makes them more relatable and the reason why they both have cult followings. It’s easier to feel closer to these artists compared to others on the scene who tend to rely heavily on disingenuous facades.

8/10

Words: Joe Hale

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