The phrase long-awaited is one I tend to leave out of writing, but in BVA’s case his newest album, Be Very Aware, is exactly that. High Focus supporters have seen BVA flourish in a variety of musical environments, from 3 Amigos to the Four Owls – the community respects his work inside of a group. When it comes to pushing the all important solo album to the ravenous masses how will he fare?
The bulk of the release has been sculpted by brothers, Illinformed and Leaf Dog – two names synonymous with BVA’s previous collaborations. A clever choice. Having worked together extensively in the past there is no anticipating whether or not the production will merge seamlessly together with the pace of the album. Alongside the family orientated production, Be Very Aware is awash with many brilliant collaborations. From track six onwards the solo artistry stops and opens the door to a host of highly esteemed names.
Bursting open the seal is a short introductory sample taken a nature programme – not entirely arbitrary as BVA’s alias comes from a childhood nickname, Beaver. A quick, endearing start to set the tone for the rest of the body of work. The intro blends into the first two Leaf productions, Rain or Shine and Hype Man. Each track has a distinct presence of honesty. These aren’t just random barrings that fit coherently together, its a testament to BVA’s realistic approach to music.
From the solo segment of the album comes the flood of collaborations. Where’s the Mic at features an authentic verse from Leaf Dog who effortlessly sets the track alight with another solid beat from his collection. The High Focus family rolls through to show their support on It’s A Mad World. Sammy B-Side exhibits flawless dexterity on the cuts, with Fliptrix and Cracker Jon adding extra panache to a track about the immorality of both men and women. Back in your earhole is Dick Trusay, aka Verb Twazzer, aka Verb T, who lends himself to Gifted. Perhaps not one of the most powerful couplings on the album but still an enjoyably smooth ride nonetheless.
The vibe of the Be Very Aware peaks at its fullest when BVA is joined by Dike and Kashmere on track 10, Weapon of Choice. Verses about smoking weed come correct, in my opinion, when they move away from the well documented pleasures of bunning up. BVA however speaks truthfully and articulately about weed being both an inspiration and fixation in his life. Moving onto That Old Bitch, featuring the insanely pleasurable vocals of Rag N Bone Man, shining as one of the best tracks on the album.
Music about psychedelic experiences will always be a favourite of mine. The imagery conjured up in Crazy Trips is wildly vivid and hugely reminiscent to what dabbling in mind altering hallucinogens feels like. Sammy B-Side rejoins BVA for the finale of Be Very Aware: Spit the Shoulder. Another track with a lucid, creative atmosphere bound together by intricate wordplay and more of that signature scratching style. A strong finish to a highly accomplished piece of music.
As track 17 comes to a end, its clear to see that BVA has dedicated a tireless amount of time in making the album as down to earth and honest as possible. None of the tracks strike me as being there for no reason. The release is meticulously crafted, with each collaboration and solo effort earning their place as some of the finest work in BVA’s sprawling back catalogue. A spiritual journey through the mind of one of the best rappers in the UK. Not to be missed.
Review by Louise Brisbane