Comprising seasoned artists Xeno and Secondson, Plague are back with their second album, Where’s the World Gone? It might seem a world away from the classic UK hip hop sound of their self-titled debut, but Plague’s latest effort is actually a prescient mirror for the country right now. Where’s The World Gone? explores unknown territory, and just like Brexit Britain, what they find is darker than anything we could have imagined.
For those not in the loop, Xeno began his career as one half of DFXO. The other half, DEFISIS sadly passed away earlier this year, so this album is fittingly dedicated to his memory. After a 10-year hiatus from the scene – during which time their 2004-recorded debut was eventually released (in 2014) – Xeno is back alongside fellow labelmate SecondSon. Xeno himself explained the contrast in lyrical matter from the debut to this new release: “Our previous outing was more of an introduction… This time is more about portraying a view of society and the world.”
Secondson is on top form with production, putting his time working alongside peers like Jehst, Task Force and Sway to good use. The entire album bristles with a kind of operatic menace. Vintage analogue synths bubble beneath rat-a-tat beats. Combined with Xeno’s caustic bars, Where’s the World Gone? feels like the aural equivalent to stumbling down a dark alley in some British Blade Runner remake. In fact, the entire album is a selfie of modern Britain, with every ugly, violent blemish on show.
In truth, Where’s the World Gone? just feels right for this moment; a time when neo-Nazis proudly walk the streets, the threat of nuclear oblivion is a real prospect again, and your uncle spends his nights sat calling strangers ‘cucks and snowflakes’ on Twitter. But it isn’t all bad news. As Xeno spits on ‘Riot (Pop)’: “There ain’t no breaking the cycle if we ain’t breaking the quiet.” Where’s the World Gone? might sound all doom and gloom but the fact is, if there weren’t artists like this speaking truth to power and holding a mirror to our fractured society, the world would be a whole lot darker.