Though we’ve had our share of popular and emerging UK rappers making waves across borders and giving the US something new to add to the growing popularity of Hip-Hop. The Grime-Hip-Hop hybrid has been making their own waves as that trend, though not many artists break into stardom like we see here. A lot of know about artists like Skepta and AJ Tracey, and as well, some waiting to break the fold like Loyle Connor. Every artist has their own convictions and most stick to their truth, and within the 6 years since his debut mixtape and a major label contract, Ghetts delivers his truths on Conflicts of Interest.
Ghetts’ prominence on the underground scene in the UK is vast and in his own way a legend of the genre. This icon status reaches past the thin layers where artists with national popularity remain. As one of the pioneers of the sound that hip-hop now amasses. Making music since the mid 00s pits him alongside artists Skepta and Wiley into the kind of hip-hop/rap we now get from the UK. It’s centralizing focus on creating a stream of consciousness in both production and lyricism.
“IC3,” featuring Skepta does so by detailing their history in music and the hurdles overcome along the way as two of the primary engineers to the sound we hear today. It sets a foundation of respect and knowledge about the kind of music coming.
Conflict of Interest delivers on two spectrums, where the few tracks that open the album are bombastic and lyrically sharp. It’s a reminder of his prominence as an MC in the UK before shifting the focus on his subconscious, and allowing his track “Autobiography,” to set the staging of songs to proceed.
“Dead To Me,” a continuation of the track “Autobiography,” details through his experiences, a unique perspective behind the mental aspect that happens when we face “conflict of interest.” Conflict of Interest is more than just an album title. It reflects the constant questions that fall on our laps as we reevaluate our lives and create our own conflicts.
However, Conflicts of Interest very rarely steers into a thematic deviation about toxic masculinity in “Good Hearts,” it starts to lose its essence within the confines of the whole structure. The moments that get lost in the cohesive mixture of tracks that align through the 16-track, 71 minute album. It’s a slight bump on the road that doesn’t deter it, but like the album’s namesake, its conflict of interest is dependent on how one feels on those types of songs. Fortunately it doesn’t dwindle on the open world and lets the instrumental do its mesmerizing, like the other tracks on the album.
The production’s vast complexities keeps the sounds vibrant with each track feeling different in their own way. It ranges from the bombastic “Hop Out,” and “Fine Wine” to the somber and atmospheric “Proud Family,” there are no limitations where it can go. The percussion has this subtlety where, despite a high volume, still lets the other factions of the instrumental shine.
The collection of features bring forth the adhesive part of the super glue that holds them together, like Ed Sheeran’s rapping on the track “10,000 Tears” and Emeli Sande’s beautiful chorus on “Sonya.” The latter is a somber and heart breaking tale about this girl who he grew up with and showed faith in him during his toughest moments. As he proclaims, he went to jail at 15 and “Sonya,” was one of two to write him letters and after his release she has become a lost silhouette in his path, questioning where she left after this strong emotional connection.
Conflict of Interest flourishes with a tight hold that makes each track quintessential in their own right. It keeps you wanting to go back and listen to his flows further as he lays it on naturally, though we shouldn’t expect any less from Ghetts.