Stormzy - Heavy Is The Head
It’s fair to say that Stormzy holds an insurmountable power over the UK in 2019. All eyes are on him, and doesn’t he just know it. Check the cover, in which the man himself observes his union jack bulletproof vest, easily recognisable from his Glastonbury performance. Heavy Is The Head, his second full-length LP, finds the South London emcee on profusely self-aware form, balancing deck-your-face-in bravado tempered by existential angst. Such is the lot of the reluctant monarch.
Skepta - Ignorance Is Bliss
On his fifth studio album Skepta both moves with the times and reminds people of the skills, graft and creative flair that got him to where he is now. Grime, of course, is the style that anchors Ignorance Is Bliss, but Skepta’s clearly been keeping his ear to the streets these past few years - road rap, UK drill and Afrobeats all make their presence felt here, and there are guest spots for young guns like J Hus and Nafe Smallz. Furthermore, the strong trap influence that came through on 2017’s Vicious EP crops up again on tracks like ‘Pure Water’ and ‘Greaze Mode’, a sign that Skepta is in tune with the desires of his new global fanbase.
slowthai - Nothing Great About Britain
The shadowy nation that rapper Tyron Frampton — aka slowthai — paints on debut Nothing Great About Britain is one run by a government of scoundrels and disaffected royalists, nostalgic for its bloody colonial past, socio-economic inequality firmly in its blindspot. What slowthai manages with utmost ease here — be it on the twisted flow of the title track or the grime-punk swagger of ‘Doorman’ (featuring producer Mura Masa) — is to be totally believable.