Loyle Carner: Bringing the south back without trap!
For the last couple of years my love of Hip-Hop has been renewed. There are many reasons factors for this, but mainly that there are artists out there making the kind of music I used to love as a kid, but sadly had slipped from my periphery. The Hip-Hop I loved when I was young wasn’t gangsta rap. Yes it was fun to put on but after the giggles at the profanity and macho boasts had faded there wasn’t a great deal to keep me interested. What I really liked was the DAISY Age/Back-Pack Rap stuff. The music was full of incredible jazz and soul samples, and while the beats weren’t as hard hitting as the gangsta stuff, what they were saying had far more impact. Then the Wu-Tang thing happened, which in a weird way combined the gangsta and the Back-Pack stuff, to me anyway, and I was at one with the universe, Hip-Hop speaking.
In 2014 a mixtape popped up in my feed. It was for an unknown rapper called Loyle Carner. It was called A Little Late. I didn’t think a great deal but I pressed play. Since pressing play Carner’s brand of Conscious Hip-Hop has been with me. Last year he released two singles and did a track with Kate Tempest, another reason for my renewed love of Hip-Hop. Now he’s released his third single Stars and Shards.
Opening with a laid-back laconic guitar riff, until Carner’s vocals and drums kick in and then we’re off. Again it’s another slice of social commentary about a low-rent characters who feel as real as anything in Penguin Classics or that the RSC perform. As Stars and Shards continues the tension is raised through the combination of Carner’s wordplay, and the dextrous instrumentation. This is what Carner does better than most of his peers. He limits the elements in his songs, a few instruments and a ‘simple’ track. But through this less is more approach he makes the listener pay more attention to what is going on, rather than bombarding us with a thousand channels of beats, bass and blips and beeps. Through focusing us thus, we get the message/moral of his story quicker as we don’t have to fight over bass drops and ‘clever’ production techniques. As Carner says himself “Bringing the south back without trap”
Where Carner excels is when, through his exquisite wordplay, he puts us in the exact moment he’s describing. Whether we have seen the exact events take place is by the by, what is important is that we can relate to it. Either because we have all either seen or experienced similar. His unflinching social commentary marks him apart from his peers. Rumour has it there is an album in the pipeline later this year, and that is something to get VERY excited about. But as I’ve been saying for a long time Loyle Carner is one to watch, it looks like everyone is starting to wake up and pay attention.