The London rapper and producer pal pioneer a new style: recession rap.
Adam Kennedy 2012
Since the days of Reagan and Thatcher, musical theorists have hypothesised that tough times mobilise artists into creating more vital work than boom periods. The financial crisis that continues to wreak havoc across the globe in 2012 may conceivably have birthed a new genre in London, then, via rhymer Rewd Adams and DJ/producer pal The Last Skeptik: recession rap.
While skint British rappers detailing their lifestyles isn't entirely new, it's rarely been afforded a concept thread through an entire album as on How Not to Make a Living. And though the consistency isn't all it could be here – occasional reliance on standard UK hip hop chat and tempos, for example – it's largely an album with impressive focus for a man who openly glorifies his status as unemployed.
Whereas many of Rewd's peers approach the microphone seemingly sounding as if they have inhaled a little too much of nature's greenest bounty, Rewd is spitting syllables as if an apocalypse countdown has begun ticking during the formative bars of opener Nukey. For a straight 60 seconds it seems that breath control is foregone in favour of a total refusal to acknowledge the basic human need for oxygen.
On the evidence of Bring It Back, meanwhile, it's entirely possible Rewd would be struggling to rub two coins together while promoting his fledgling career at any juncture in recent history. A concluding skit chuckles that being broke never equals boredom nowadays, thanks to the time-killing innovation of Twitter.
Not that Rewd has exhausted his verbals mooching around online. An ability to pull an off-kilter chorus from nowhere comes to the fore on J.O.B., concurrently refusing to sign on or pursue traditional employment – “Not Sainsbury's / Not Tesco / McDonald's? / You better let go” – over hard rock flourishes. “I'd rather be sane and poor,” he figures, not unreasonably.
So is How Not to Make a Living a product of Broken Britain? Not quite. It's simply a rapper refusing to compromise his music by wasting away daylight hours in a dull job, as opposed to fully embracing borderline poverty as an artistic statement.