Filed under: Album Reviews
So far the majority of my posts have centred around American artists: time to represent for the UK. Lewis Parker is a one man hip hop machine, handling basically all of the duties on this EP sized release himself: beats, rhymes and the occasional scratch. The string sections are moody, triangles tingle in the background and Parker’s image-based lyricism all contribute to an incredibly strong debut: one of the best albums to emerge from the British scene.
Regrettably, I have mixed feelings about hip hop from this side of the Atlantic. There is little doubt that there have been some quality releases from these shores, but there is also a tendency towards rude boy posturing and over the top rants about the difficulty of ‘gettin’ love’. There has been a pressure to form a distinction between American hip hop and that of the homegrown variety that I can appreciate, but often highlighting this difference simply serves to detract from the music itself. Of course, this is an over-generalisation, but as UK hip hop has searched for its own sense of identity it has leaned more towards this rude boy style that I personally feel grows a little tiresome. Perhaps the distance from American hip hop is what allows me to immerse myself in a fantasy world of street narratives and the struggle of a ghetto lifestyle; I can see the inconsistencies and identify a certain front in content that is closer to home. Anyway…
I have no idea whether this has made the long journey over to the States, but for those of you who are not aware of this work it is well deserving of your attention. ‘Masquerades & Silhouettes’ has a grainy and atmospheric feel to it that complements Parker’s rhyme style which often references the natural world: shadows, deserts and the waves of the sea. This is an album suited to late night smoking sessions and moments of self-reflection. Although categorically British, Parker doesn’t feel the need to shout about it and this is perhaps the key to the album’s success for a more global audience. This is not the work of a bitter man struggling for recognition: it is soulful music that has come from within.