Manchester born battle-rap veteran Shotty Horroh releases ‘The Teller’ EP, a five part crime story that is being heralded as his ‘return to hip hop’, after a short hiatus. Many will know Shotty as a belligerent presence within the Don’t Flop battle rap leagues, contributing towards millions of views across featured videos on YouTube with his signature, aggresively cocksure style. However, many may not be aware that he was also signed by Sony Music (Canada) in 2017, featured in a motion picture called ‘VS.’ in 2018 and has worked with an assortment of artists like Deadmau5 (Mau5trap), Kool G Rap, Royce Da 5’9″ and Tory Lanez, among others. It has been five years since he released a Hip Hop project, his time at Sony was spent working on the label debut (of a four album record deal) called ‘Salt of the Earth‘ which was primarily a rock album, sounding somewhere between Oasis and Jamie T (it’s not bad to be fair!) but as the world came to a standstill in 2020 he hit the studio again and refound his love for hip hop while producing the 5 track narrative-driven EP, making it his first release of the year.

It can often prove difficult to cross over into mainstream music after a career in battle rap or freestyle, not all can achieve such a feat as we have seen over the years but there are definitely some exceptions to the rule. Shotty covers such a wide range of genres effortlessly including hip hop, grime, EDM, rock and trap he unequivocally silences any naysayers with his sharpened delivery, but does this ability to shape shift across mediums translate into a decent EP? We immersed ourself into this world of crime, murder and betrayal to find out..

The release is entirely written and produced by Shotty himself, including no features, therefore acting as a true testimonial towards his solo work. The story is presented in five chapters around a central character named David or ‘Dave’ and is a cautionary tale about how borrowing gambling money from the wrong people can lead you down a criminal path, ultimately effecting those you love when trying to ‘fix the situation’.

The EP opens with ‘Dave’s Dillema’, a scene setting track that sees Shotty playing the different characters within a bank heist scenario (Dave and his brother-in-law), where they hatch a plan to get the money that is owed to a certain unnamed crime family. Gritty tones sit atop of droning bass lines, accompanied with a simple break, allowing the lyrics and overall plot to breathe. The story continues with ‘Bad Breed’, told from the point of view of the brother-in-law who decides to escape to paradise, warm soft strings compliment bass and kicks, some nice flows on this one. On ‘Consequences’ Dave starts to panic and realises the gravity of the situation, things escalate and he makes a devastating discovery. Meanwhile his brother-in-law comes back with only revenge on his mind, they need to find ‘Ricardo’, trap beats and bells swell around the growing angst. ‘Ricardo’s Keys’ is about revenge, with a touch of torture-porn, feels slightly Eminemesque this one and is the point of no return in the story. The stand out track on the EP is the fifth and final installment, ‘Vultures Fly on my Head’ which sees playful panpipes coupling with moody bass, briskly paced and lyrics full of vitriol, concluding the story, a great track to end on.

Although a short project it’s a great example of story telling, definitely worth a listen and like any good Netflix series there will be no spoilers, so you will need to listen to it in it’s entirety to find out what happens to Dave and his brother-in-law as they descend deeper into the rabbit hole and the den of thieves. Shotty has some nicely developed characterisations and proves himself to be quite the story teller. This EP is for anyone who likes trappy beatscapes with narrative-driven hip hop, riotously delivered by a battle rapping old hand.

‘The Teller’ is out now on all streaming platforms, grab a copy if you know what’s good for you.

What did you think of the EP and do you know of any other battle rappers who have successfully crossed over into mainstream music? As always, Tweet me your thoughts.

Words by Theo Specone