I get a bit tired of the usual lyrical content that I’m presented with every time a rap or hip-hop album lands in the review pile. They are laced with expletives and overuse of the N-word. They are full of self-aggrandisement and ego, painting the narrator as both a hero and a victim. Not to mention levels of misogyny and hate that have no place in the modern world.
Well, if you too are fed up with such cliche-ridden music, pick up Up, a new long-player from Gmb1t. Why? Because the lyrical content is incredible. Deft and dexterous wordplay built out of wit and wisdom, truth and narrative, street mythologies and oral histories. And at the heart of this honesty and directness is a level of self-awareness, soul-searching and self-reflection often absent from urban music.
Just listen to the opening salvo, 2 am, for an idea of what to expect, a scattergun of deftly delivered wordplay and clever lyrical manipulation. It tells of an artist willing to change the format. Sure, musically, a lot is happening here that is familiar in modern urban music, but lyrically, much has changed for the better.
There are more serious moments such as Designer/Suicide, a brooding, slow-burning look at the dark underbelly of society, futuristic, glitchy raps such as Mastermind and almost a capella vocal streams, intense and relentless narratives played out over depth charge bass pulses.
Music moves on as much through evolution as it does through revolution, and Up can be seen as a significant evolutionary step. And it is a step that will have people asking why it took so long to get here. Why has it taken all this time to swap the usual, cliched rap lyrics for something deeper and more meaningful? Why indeed?