You can’t say that the life of a music reviewer isn’t a varied occupation. One moment you are putting pen to paper to describe the classic sweeps and graceful moves of an ornate, neo-classical piece, the next you are up to your neck in raw and gritty lyrics and pounding, urban beats. But that is the diversity of the world we live in and music has always been a medium that reflects its surroundings. Sometimes those surroundings are decorous and restrained, other times they are brutal and brutally honest.
To get things moving, Qasim! lays down a salvo of hardcore and dexterous lyrics, painting the picture of his hedonistic and on the edge lifestyle. Thirty seconds in, he employs a hypnotic and relentless beat to help drive the narrative, a blend of off-kilter bass pulses and skittering trap percussion.
Dynamically he plays it straight, the track neither rising too much above the baseline nor dropping into lulls or lower registers. It’s about a constant, uncompromising, lyrical sucker-punch and music that is unwavering in its delivery, sonics which are as in-your-face and straight to the point as the message they carry.
As the beats pound, the percussion shimmers, the bass pulses and the middle ground is filled with futuristic electronica, Qasim’s lyrics remain the focal point. Honest and authentic, his deftness with lyrical play reminds you of the early days of hip-hop when the word was everything. Here, his flow and rhymes become and an additional instrument in their own right, laying out street melodies and rapped rhythms and musing on the world around him, relaying emotion and events as much through the tone and texture of his lyrics as through the direct communication of their meaning.
And if there is an old school air about his words, the music that he cocoons them in is nothing but cutting edge, a tight weave of synths and samples to act as the platform from which he can make himself heard.
And that is the art of such things. Remember the sounds and styles of the past, or in this case, perhaps just evoking the same feeling via the rapid-fire words, but always move things forward too. This freestyle outburst is the perfect marker of where the genre is today. It is honest and filled with edginess, it reflects the world that it is created in, with all its flaws open for all to see. But so too there is an air of humour to be found running through the track, even when describing the tough environment of the streets, the club, the hassle and the hustle of the streets that it rises up from, he does so with a wicked glint in his eye.