The brainchild of XL Recordings A&R Caroline SM, this compilation acts as the perfect window into the UK’s underground urban music scene. Spanning a hefty 17 tracks, ‘New Gen’ is a musical melting pot; covering everything from grime and RnB to trap, hip-hop and dancehall.
Those who keep close tabs on the scene should be familiar with many of the names that feature, and rather than working towards an overall sound; each artist sticks to what they know. Whether it’s the Toronto esc tones of Renz on ‘Flexing’, WSTRN delivering on ‘Loose’ with their infectious brand of UK RnB or the musical chameleon that is Bonkaz; hopping between the hard hitting rap of the opening track to the soft jazz-laded tones of ‘Life Support’. The result is a refreshing listen that twists and turns, taking cues from various influences yet still managing to sound cohesive.
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With all tracks recorded specifically for the compilation, each artist’s contribution offers something different. A2 provides his signature blend of thoughtful lyrics, lazy flows and dreamy soundscapes on ‘Vanilla Skies’. Grime love story ‘My Ways’ featuring AJ Tracey and J Warner has nostalgia written all over it; where ‘Fuck Your Feelings’ boasts thought-provoking, tongue-twisting poetry from Kojey Radical.
‘New Gen’ displays not only collaboration, but competition too – presenting MCs with the opportunity to shine amongst their fiercely talented peers. As if we didn’t see it coming, Tottenham MC Avelino proves himself as one of the UK’s brightest prospects in terms of lyricism. Each of his punchlines deliver like a right hook followed by a left cross that you didn’t see coming. His bars possess unrivalled intelligence, delivered with confidence and clarity.
This is prevalent on opener ‘Welcome to the New Gen’, which sees Avelino and Bonkaz trading bars in the fashion of ‘Brooklyn’s Finest’ like they’re London’s very own Biggie and Jay Z. The North-London MC also impresses on the sunshine-drenched, reggae vibes of ‘Ring the Alarm’; with the assistance of Tiggs Da Author, this number will have you bouncing like you’re ten red stripes deep on a summer’s Saturday at Hootanany’s.
The material’s originality, whilst not particularly ground breaking, is irrelevant. Call it an album, call it a playlist, call it whatever you want. New Gen is a statement. A documentary detailing the collaboration of young musicians from different parts of London who share the same passion, drive and vision.
It’s exciting to think what this project could become. In 5 years’ time those who laid their verses on the debut offering could have risen to superstardom or could have even disappeared. There’s limitless potential for ‘New Gen’ to become a cultural milestone as an annual release, championing and giving a platform to future talent.
We can only wait and see. Here’s to the new generation.