If I was ever asked by a big label, let’s say Def Jam, to name an artist who I thought had a realistic chance of blowing up with the right backing (haha), I might be tempted to suggest the artist formerly known as Skandal. Not because he is a personal favourite, but because he is that relatively rare thing; an MC who makes polished sounding, reasonably accessible music, whilst actually possessing some talent. What I mean by this is that he doesn’t make the sort of music that you have to be a hip-hop nerd to appreciate. You’re not going to find too many dusty jazz samples here, for example. I also remember him stating in an interview that he studied the art of writing catchy hooks from 50 Cent records. This shows, even stretching to using autotune on ‘Go’, which may well attract some criticism. However, the bottom line is that guy can spit, and his passionate delivery is demonstrated pretty much throughout Rewd Awakening.
The album kicks off in style. The title track features the same sample as the Jay-Z classic ‘Where I’m From’, and Adams gets straight into it:
“Sometimes I see angels,
Sometimes I see devils wearing halos,
I see horn-tipped wings and a fake smile.
Trust me, I aint known trust in a while, I put trust in my style.
Not my brothers or my sisters,
The priests or the sisters,
The doctors or the sisters,
Your clocks or your systems.
Because where were you when I was in jail?
Writing letters, and you didn’t write back
Little snake, little rat.
This is a letter for all my guardian angels I never had,
In this sin city, I’ll probably never have them.”
The intensity of this track is not a one-off either. On ‘Wish Myself Away’ he discusses previous suicidal feelings, and how he’s turned his life around. The emotion poured into this track is helped by an appearance from the ever-impressive Graziella, and the piano line, courtesy of Beat Butcha. However, all of these are topped by the extremely raw ‘Promise’. Adams really bares his soul on this, as he addresses a friend whose father has died. The self-analysis, and aching delivery are reminiscent of Joe Budden at his most introspective. The beat is also outstanding, as Sivey serves up some haunting keys for Adams to open up over. As that piano line fades out, this would have been the absolutely ideal finish to the album. Sadly the vibe is interrupted by the slightly pointless inclusion the Kill Em With The Flow remix, basically as a bonus track. Whilst obviously this isn’t a bad tune, it was everywhere last year, and doesn’t seem to be necessary here.
The production line-up is filled with heavyweights, and not just from the UK, as Australia’s M-Phazes is also featured. The highly rated producer, who has worked with the likes of Masta Ace, provides an absolute banger with ‘This’. Jon Phonics’ drums are as crunchy as ever on ‘Everyday’, and Jetsun’s laid-back head-nodder is perfect backdrop for Adams to get philosophical over on Questions. The only real criticism of the production is that in what is clearly a deliberate attempt to have a modern, polished, accessible sound, the synths are perhaps overdone. It works wonderfully well when combined with good samples, such as on the title track, and ‘Promise’, but can lend the album as slightly samey vibe musically, and leaves some tracks, such as ‘Rookie’ sounding a little bland. A couple of more soulful, sample-driven beats may have brought out the best in Rewd Adams’ engaging delivery.
One lyrical theme that keeps coming up is Adams’ attempts to prove himself to/put down any haters or naysayers. On ‘Go’ and ‘I Know’ the whole tracks are dedicated to the character assassination of individuals who have pissed him off. Generally though, the lyrical content is fairly well rounded, as many different subjects are touched on, and every track seems to have a specific focus and concept. This is just as well, as his bars are occasionally some way short of razor sharp (“Pass the remote/You’re not remotely near me” & “I’m Head & Shoulders above you/My shampoo’s on the top shelf”). This potential weakness is never really exposed though, as at only 13 tracks in length, the project is never left to drift, and only ‘Rookie’ and the ‘Kill Em With The Flow’ remix feel anything like filler. This is a release that should appeal to any fan of British rap music, regardless of which little niche area they prefer.
Best news of all for any hard up punters is that this album is available for free. It will be available to download from Rew Adams’ bandcamp page (www.rewdadams.com) on the 5th of February, which is this Saturday. Don’t be thinking that this is yet another throwaway release as so many free downloads are, this is a proper album, you just don’t have to pay for it. Although, I guess this means that it probably won’t be getting a physical release, which is a bit of a shame.
Originally posted on www.certifiedbanger.co.uk