The year is 2006, and I'm sat at home watching some of the most shoddy, amateur music videos you could ever imagine, the majority looked as if they'd been filmed on an old shoe, with headphones for recording sound. Without a smidgen of care for quality control, Channel U boldly showcased video after video from aspiring artists, giving for the majority, disenfranchised young men and the occasional women a platform to display visuals to their music, all whilst pointing fire-armed-fingers at our screens, rhyming about love interests, money, general debauchery and a whole load of haters. Ashamedly we loved and lapped it up, because people that looked like us, and sounded the same, were now on our screens and in our homes 24/7.
We all got excited when Leon from the endz had got his video up, in his over-sized Nike tracksuit, surrounded by fifty guys making mean faces whilst hanging out of cars way above their current earning potential. No one ever thought it was really going anywhere, like when I tell people I’m an author and they reply with "Really? Good for you mate".
I remember going to friends houses and we'd turn Channel U on for a laugh, but as the years progressed, as did the talent and in 2006 one such talent appeared on my radar and has yet to leave. I saw the video for his track 'Punctuation' first & ' Ina Da Ghetto' and realised that Grime was beginning to take itself seriously, filtering out of the talent-less, waning and weak, leaving those competent and capable of carrying a scene so brittle in its infancy (its odds for real establishment at the time looked bleak), it needed the kings among them to ride out for its survival, a call with which was answered. Arise King Wretch 32.
Fast forward to 2017 and several millionaires later Grime or UK rap has come a long way in terms of music, lyric and visual content. The scene which is worthy of a title higher than that (a scene), is now a lucrative and believably viable carer option for young men and women, who have talent and are prepared to work hard. The scene has developed somewhat of a chock-hold around the throats and hearts of adults, adolescents and the music industry alike, both at home and abroad and although it has gone through a few rough patches here and there, the UK rap/Grime scene shows no sign of going away at all.
Wretch 32 is an artist that, alongside a chosen few, belong in a category of their own making; these artists bleed on their tracks, willingly departing from the bravado that plagues the scene at times, leaving themselves open and vulnerable for their craft, highlighting their journey over the jewels earned. They write about real tangible things that we can all relate to. They highlight failures and challenges and very rarely push opulence or violence to the forefront of their sound.
Some push out albums and others cultivate them, telling stories with every track and approach the creative process with the required ingredients for albums that will stand the test of time. FR32 is such an album, comfortably nestling among the feathers of past great ones, side by side with the likes of 'Home Sweet Home' 'Discovery' 'Transition' and 'Black and White'
FR32 is a seamless album that can be played from start to finish without the need to touch any button post play and replay. Although all tracks are good, below are a few that, in my opinion, best demonstrates the unique talent of Wretch 32.
'His and Hers' would easily be at home on an old skool Nas album. Told from the perspective of two people in what could only be described a turbulent relationship from both a male and female point of view; authentic in its feel, you can hear the honesty and experience in Wretch's voice. The growl and exhausted squeak insecure men and women make when engaged in arguments they've probably had a million times before. The beat is phenomenal, and captures the essence of loving conflict perfectly.
'Happy' in part, chronicles a father’s many broken promises made upon their daughter’s inception, exposing and creating comfort with both the humanity and frailty of men and their plans for a perfect life with their newly created families. Featuring effortless vocals from J.Warner and a beat that sounds like it sampled a nursery rhyme, and matured it. If you like lyrics with paternal based meaning and smooth vocals, you'll fall in love with it.
I'm convinced 'Time' got lost en-route to Drake's beautiful album 'Take Care'. A simple Piano melody plays on a loop, allowing Wretch to do what he does best. Wretch expresses how little time we have with the people we love, forcing you to question your mortality and the way we prioritize our priorities. Written immediately after the death of an uncle, you feel it's authenticity in every verse. Simply beautiful.
'Thugs Prayer' shines bright among the rest. Fearless lyrically, mature and modern in its execution. The beat sounds like trap, made more palatable to a mature ear by a looping, silky vocal repeating ‘Amen’.
The fact that Wretch 32 hasn't been handed a Brit or any other accolade of real note yet, is an absolute act of injustice. You'd be hard pressed to find an artist as honest, intelligent and lyrically perspicacious as Wretch nowadays.
Buy FR32, you will not be disappointed.
Hit the link and buy the album NOW! > www.amazon.co.uk/FR32-Explicit-Wretch-32/dp/B075MYP46G
Your comments and opinions are welcome below.