The last 14 months have been weird. No pubs, no festivals, no shows. Thankfully, some things have stayed the same. British weather is still shit, Piers Morgan is still a blethering bellend, and BVA is still one of the sharpest emcees in the UK today.

For the uninitiated, the Beav established his impeccable credentials through his time in 3 Amigos, Brothers Of The Stone and Four Owls. But despite over a decade in the game, Lex Neville is only his second solo LP. Thankfully for BVA (and hip hop heads everywhere), it’s quality over quantity.

That’s not to say the album is low on tunes. The sixteen tracks zip by so quick you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s just a ten-track album. Lyrically, there’s more of what made Be Very Aware slap so hard; the righteous anger, puerile petulance and endlessly quotable slogans. 

‘Bring It Back’ is BVA at his best, painting vivid visuals with a liquid-smooth flow. Like his fellow RLD labelmates, he excels in mixing late the effortless vibe of ‘90s East Coast classics with a quintessentially British no-fucks-given attitude.Likewise, ‘Role Model’ twists a nifty little bassline around a Greek lyre that works as surprisingly well as Ouzo and energy drink (trust me, try it).

BVA is joined by the cream of UK hip hop, with guest spots from Datkid, Smellington Piff and, of course, Leaf Dog. Jack Jetson and King Kashmere join BVA to usher in the apocalypse in ‘End of Days’, while fellow Owl Verb T graces the instant classic ‘Rolling’. That oh so sweet mix of chopped up soul, obscure jazz and classic ’90s boom bap is still present. But the beats (courtesy of Leaf and brother IllInformed) throw up a few surprises too. The G-funk inspired ‘Groundhog Day’, wouldn’t sound out of place on a GTA soundtrack. Jazz T also drops in to provide some sublime cuts on several tracks, most notably ‘Carving Tablets’.

But this is BVA’s moment. OK, so there’s not exactly anything new in Lex Neville. But the Beav is very much living by the “if it ain’t broke” mantra.

After a year and a half of bewildering change, it’s nice to know some things are exactly as good as you remember them. 

Lex Neville drops 28th May 2021 on RLD Records.