A multi-layered, narrative focussed work of art...
Little BIG MAN Artwork

‘Little BIG Man’ is the latest project released by the seasoned, Tottenham based UK poet known as Wretch 32.

The project’s focus hinges on tackling the concept of life after being incarcerated, and the difficulties faced being involved in a lifestyle presented through such unconventional circumstances. The project was released alongside a visual short film - which can be found on Youtube – and they go hand in hand, as the story that unfolds through music begins to unravel before your very eyes in a scenic play, presenting the struggles of a young individual coming out of incarceration in an imaginative and artistic manner.

Indeed, it's a sign of the rapper's focus that he'a also joined with Shelter for their Fight For Home campaign. As such, this allows for deeper and more meaningful understanding, as well as empathy towards the situations which many young adults in the UK face behind closed doors. This has been missing from the UK music scene, and it is a welcome addition to current music hemisphere.

‘Little BIG Man’ includes seven songs, an intro and an outro, all of which follow a set sequence to create the auditory narrative; however each song can be enjoyed equally on their own, as they are produced at a high standard. Features include M Huncho, Nafe Smallz, K-Trap, and SL (among others), which allow for Wretch to not only create a conceptual project, but to open the doors of possibility for the exploration of genre-bending sounds and direction. This is thanks to the artists involved on the project, but also the production carefully crafted by the likes of 169 and Sounds of Sonix, both veterans in the field of audio production, who bring this project to life with their unique takes on the sounds that traverse London, and the minds of the younger generation.

The standout tracks of this project include ‘On My Life’, ‘All white/Interlude’ (feat. Nafe Smallz and K-Trap)' and ‘Pressure (feat. Blade Brown)’. Each of these boast an incredibly diverse sound, and bring a rhythmic yet poetic adaptation to the circumstances of many young men and women across the country. The focal point of this project is the narrative, Wretch placing himself in the shoes of a young person coming out of incarceration and facing the life that awaits them outside of their four walls: ‘On My Life’, ‘Pressure (feat. Blade Brown)’, ‘Anxiety (feat. KayyKayy)’ and ‘Last Night/No one can relate (feat. M Huncho)’ are the character focused pieces, pushing the story direction and the narrative that Wretch is creating.

‘On My Life’ produced by 169, is the first song you hear on the ‘Little BIG Man’, Wretch extends his lyrical ability to present a rhythmic depiction of an individual weighing their options in life, showing an importance in the hustle that comes with the lifestyle that has been presented to them, whilst questioning the supposed loyalty that circles them. With a captivating hook, aided by the production, and a heavy focus on percussion and the drum pattern, there is a sense of overpowering, as if the drums are outshining the constant distortion created by the lead instrumentation, creating the sense of being involved in an inner dialogue and trying to find clarity in the moments of peace created by the removal of said drums. Wretch jumps between an aggressive and fast flow, to a slower and calmer flow when the hook is being introduced to add to the sense of calm in the middle of the storm. All the elements of the song coming together to create the perfect introduction to the world Wretch is creating through ‘Little BIG Man’.

‘Pressure (feat. Blade Brown)’ works as a conversation with an elder in the community, in this case, a father figure. The focus on lyrical continuity creates a discourse about the pressure that life has placed upon the young person, both parties creating a call and response narrative, structured in a similar fashion to class blues songs. Wretch places himself in the shoes of the young individual discussing the pressure his life is under on a daily basis, to Blade Brown who places himself as the elder figure, patronising the younger and showcasing his personal idea of pressure. The lyrical continuity which is heavy and burdensome being juxtaposed by a mid-tempo instrumental which presents itself as a peaceful and serene ambience, perfectly mixed to allow for the focus on the vulnerability and elaboration presented by both of the lyricists.

‘Anxiety feat. KayyKayy’ focuses on the feelings and mental state associated with the life the young person is facing, the constant anxiety surrounding their mind and their thoughts, and the continuous feeling of being found out, by rivalries or by the authorities.

Wretch perfectly encapsulates the feelings in this song through his sporadic flow and the repetition of words to create a sense of hesitation and overthinking, the instrumental itself places you on the edge, with the clever mimicking of a police siren as the main chord progression throughout the entire piece, with the addition of a drill like drum pattern, it encapsulates the mental state both lyrically and musically. With the feature verses from KayyKayy there is a real strong sense of rawness and grittiness, as he doesn’t hold back telling a story through his haunting flow and menacing delivery, adding to the intensity Wretch wants to create. The two artists intertwine towards the third verse creating the illusion that two stories are being narrated at the same instant whilst racing by each other formulating the idea of anxiety, the rush of ideas and confusion.

‘Little BIG Man’ is a must listen, in the current climate of music and events. Wretch 32 has come back with a much needed, story-driven project that deserves the credit.

8/10

Words: Ramy Abou-Setta

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