I don't read my own reviews I promise. I get sent these and I put them on my blog. Okay I read this one. I like when people get the point of my music. Not to sound pretentious but I like to think it's a little deeper than your average. Subba-Cultcha know what time it is though.
Lyrically subversive, promising debut from Brixton Hip-Hopper
The commercial successes of British Hip Hop acts has been slim over recent years; more so for those who have avoided the cliché bombast of gangsta rap. Dizzee Rascal, of course, has been the leading pioneer of the genre, but for most it has been a case of re-inventing yourself to make dance floor music (compare Wiley’s ‘Wearing my Rolex’ to some of the tracks from his album ‘Treadin’ on Thin Ice’) or accept that a cult underground following is your most likely outcome (Lethal Bizzle, Taz, Prof. Green, the list goes on). ‘Devil in the Distance’ is the long awaited debut album from Marvin.
‘Devil in the Distance’ is an album that, for the most part, stands up well to comparison with any of his genre peers. The likes of ‘Goodbye’, a song about youth violence that feels particularly pertinent in the current climate, recalls the likes of ‘Can’t Contain Me’ by Taz, whilst ‘First Born’ shows a maturity in Marvin’s approach to lyrics; a frank honesty without the bravado some would inflect upon such a topic. Marvin also shows himself to be capable of great lyrical dexterity on the likes of ‘Fight or Flee’. There are a few blemishes upon ‘Devil In The Distance’, ‘Trocadero’ feels a little gimmicky whilst carry me seems like a compromise with the rest of the album; it’s piano accompaniment belying some frank lyrical content. However, the production on the album is first class (see the likes of ‘That One Time’) and ‘Devil In The Distance’ has enough strength to survive any critical savaging. Whether it has any crossover singles is debatable; unlike Dizzee Rascal’s debut it’s difficult to see which songs could bother the charts and it’s similarly difficult to pick out a song with the dance floor appeal of Wiley’s recent single, all of which suggests that Marvin is destined to be confined to his cult fan base alone. This would, of course, be a great shame as ‘Devil In The Distance’ is a mature, lyrically creative album that shows that British Hip-Hop can be creative and not rely upon well trodden rap conventions. He might not become a well known name with this album, but Marvin has created a debut that potentially sets the bar for all future British rappers. Innovative and surprising at every turn, this is a very strong first offering.
By: Lewis Morton
Out July 28th as I may have mentioned.