If you are one of those people who think rap music doesn’t move with the times, then this is an album for you. To be honest, it is so far out in front of the rap pack that we probably need a new name for what is happening here. Future-hop, electro-rap, urban soul…it doesn’t matter; names are not necessary; it is sonic action that counts. Not that you could tie Wicked 2 down to just one label anyway, as track after track offer different takes and new deliveries of urban music, both as tested, recognisable forms and new, unique creations.
The unifying factor of the album, as should be the way with any music made in this part of the musical spectrum, is that it is driven by whip-smart, dexterously delivered lyrics. Yung Li always has something to say, and no one will stop him from telling it like it is.
But it is the musical landscapes that his lines and rhymes dance over, which is the real charm here. There are R&B-infused rap salvos such as opener Whichever Comes First, songs that ooze with neo-soul vibes even whilst they talk in the hard language of the street like 50 Shots and smoother futuristic, digital-soul ballads like Stop The Rain.
It is safe to say that Wicked 2 is an uncompromising album, certainly in its lyrical content. It speaks of the hassle and hustle, the edge and the energy of the streets and does so in no uncertain terms. The music is a neat blend of glitchy trap beats and futuristic, electronica, pulsing bass hits and skittering grooves.
Some might see this album as sitting at the head of the current wave of urban music. But I would go further and say it is laying the way for the next chapter. Less interested in where the genre is now, and more interested in where it goes next.