Just over a month into the year, and 2017 has already been an interesting year for Hip-Hop. The popularity of ‘bling rap’ in America suggests that the genre is not as dead as once thought. Artists like Lil’ Yachty, Lil’ Uzi Vert and ‘Migos indicate a somewhat predictable direction for the states. In Britain, however, a new leaf is being turned. The long-awaited rise of grime last year illustrates how capable British MCs are of competing with rap heavyweights across the pond. Our current representative? Look no further than South London’s very own Loyle Carner.
While Yesterday’s Gone will be many listeners first encounter with the artist, Carner is no newcomer to stardom. His first ever live performance had him supporting MF Doom in 2012, with Carner also opening for Joey Badass and Nas on their recent tours. Carner echoes the flows of these established artists throughout his work. Yesterday’s Gone opens emphatically with ‘The Isle of Arran’, a polished introduction to Carner’s motives as an artist, as he proclaims, ‘I ain’t like them damn liars’. This bold remark, accompanied alongside some neat sampling of the S.C.I Youth Choir, establishes the degree of authenticity and sensitivity to which he approaches his work.
“voiced with as much tenderness as there is raw soul”
Where the album’s first half extends the playful, and rhythmicity of its introduction, the latter half is where Carner voices his lyrical talents. The spoken interludes of the album play as an insight into Carner’s social life, from his friendly personality, to his intimate relationship with his mother, Jean Coyle-Larner. ‘Sun of Jean’ extends Carner’s indebted referencing of his mother, Jean herself featuring in the song’s conclusion with an ode to her son’s accomplishments.
If Grime provided a brash confidence to the British Hip-Hop scene through such pioneers as Skepta and Wiley, then Loyle Carner provides the opposite. One should not look to Carner as an extension of the British urban music scene, but of his own alternative genre. A genre whereby money, drugs and fame are not simply referenced in a beneficial manner, but also scrutinised. Of its 42-minute running time, each song of Yesterday’s Gone plays as a page of the artist’s autobiography, voiced with as much tenderness as there is raw soul.