BackRoad Gee - Reporting Live (From the Back of the Roads) Music Album Reviews

BackRoad Gee - Reporting Live (From the Back of the Roads) Music Album Reviews
The British-Congolese rapper’s ambitious new mixtape proves there’s fertile ground to be found in the interplay between grime, UK drill, and velvety Afropop.

BackRoad Gee recently joked about creating his own dictionary. His explosive raps are peppered with so many repurposed words that they’ve taken on new meaning. Often onomatopoeic, they function as more than sound effects or ad libs—they’re critical components of the verses. Take “brukutu.” Add a “u” between the first two consonants, and it’s a popular West African sorghum-based beer. In BRG’s hands, though, it could emulate the deadly spray of a weapon, as in his career-defining verse on Pa Salieu’s “My Family.” Or, as he makes clear at the start of his latest mixtape Reporting Live (From the Back of the Roads), it can be self-referential.

The British-Congolese artist’s unabashed will to twist, bend, and break language however he sees fit has made him one of the most exciting voices out of the UK. Though only a few years into his career, his bellowing tone and trademark phrases—which include forceful uses of “woof,” “vroom,” “skrrt,” and the wonderfully inexplicable “urrdum” and “mukta” (there’s a Sanskrit explanation for this, but to BRG, it’s a “personal interpretation”)—allow him to fluidly inhabit the various shades of Black British music. His latest mixtape—and best work yet—reads more like an album in both its versatility and cohesion. It’s an ambitious effort that feels more revelatory than exhaustive, proving there’s fertile ground to be found in the interplay between the raucous energy of grime, the sinister textures of UK drill, and the velvety melodies of Afropop.

BRG’s first two projects—2019’s Mukta Wit Reason and 2020’s Mukta vs Mukta—had brief moments of magic, like the latter’s breakout hit “Party Popper,” but for the most part, they fell prey to bloated tracklists and uninspired production. On Reporting Live, a markedly more refined BRG commands every beat. The first half is a well-paced journey through the annals of street music, with nods to UK drill, grime, and the liminal space between the two. Lyrically, he pays dues to the ends and the shadowy back roads that earned him his name, switching between aggression, sincerity, and moralism. “Look at the things that we done/Enough is enough,” he declares unflinchingly at the top of the mixtape. From the nihilistic terror of “Fxct It” to the tragic realizations of “Dark Place,” BRG’s struggle to change his life is endearing in its flawed humanity, making his gains all the more encouraging. By the time he reaches “Fear Nuttin,” a solemn bridge between the mixtape’s two parts, he’s traded physical protection for a spiritual kind: “Don’t fear nuttin, only Allah/Previously, we had guns in the car.”

The second half—which features Stylo G, Stefflon Don, NSG, and Olamide—leans into the sexier and more romantic corners of dancehall and Afropop. There are a couple of exceptions, including standout “Crime Partners,” featuring fellow genre-blender Pa Salieu. While its rhythmic trot and tender saxophone might induce you to vibe out, the stark lyrics (“My nigga got shot in his head and walked it off”) say otherwise and provide a clear-eyed counter to the “baby, oh” love songs and feel-good vibes that dominate Afropop. Afroswing pioneers NSG are formidable partners on the gritty grooves of “Ancestors.” On “Nyege Lewa,” BRG and Ms. Banks turn the Pan-African hall party classic “Premier Gaou” into a slinky sex song. And by the time Olamide’s voice chimes in on the bubbly “See Level,” it feels like BRG is on a well-deserved victory lap, as he croons in pidgin with the energy of a wealthy, unbothered African uncle.

Though BRG has cited Burna Boy, DMX, 50 Cent, and Koffi Olomide as influences, he’s probably most indebted to artists closer to home. His idiosyncratic vocals and inventive wordplay bring to mind grime great D Double E (who he hopped on a remix with last year) while his charisma, versatility, and ability to straddle the needs of the street and the club are reminiscent of J Hus. The latter’s crossover success was widely heralded as the greatest manifestation of the bridge between street raps, dancehall, and Afropop, giving the blended sound mainstream legitimacy. In Hus’ stretches of inactivity (partially due to incarceration), the non-committal style returned to the margins while UK drill stepped to the fore. BRG’s latest project could reassert the dominance of hybridity, making space for all of the UK’s great Black music to shine at once.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
BackRoad Gee - Reporting Live (From the Back of the Roads) Music Album Reviews BackRoad Gee - Reporting Live (From the Back of the Roads) Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on November 30, 2021 Rating: 5


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