An album full of poetry.
Elle J Small 2009
Really decent hip hop normally falls in to one of two categories: 'club/radio hits' and 'lyrical masterpieces'. Rarely do artists nail both (cf: Nas, Eminem, Lupe Fiasco). Brit rapper Lowkey only touches on the former; it is his intelligent, punchy lyricism that gleams on Dear Listener - an album full of poetry.
22-year-old Kareem Dennis' former English teacher should be proud. Similes, metaphors and convincing arguments all feature on his debut LP. Dismissing the notion that all rappers wear gold chains, Lowkey tackles politics, racism, egos and even promiscuity with intelligence and captivating prowess.
All of the above may make for interesting listening, but unless you're a hip hop fanatic, it is unlikely you'll be adding this album to your top ten any time soon. Without exceptional hooks and stand-out choruses, those brilliant lyrics and that slick production – Scram Jones (Mariah Carey), Styalz Fuego (Busta Rhymes), Q-Tones (Lil Wayne) - will fall on deaf ears.
The exception to this rule is Tell Me Why - its high-pitched, contagious ''watch that'' hook and bumpy reggae rhythms collaborate slickly with Lowkey's powerful poetry.
If, however, you are all about the wordsmith, then Alphabet Assasin will seriously float your boat. Lowkey dissects the alphabet with lines like, ''I’m an anarchist and an angry academic activist, axe and assassinate the alphabet in an ambulance''.
It is Relatives that really captures the attention though. The British/Arabic rapper unleashes his political wrath alongside emcee Logic. The latter takes on the persona of an Iraqi boy, while Lowkey becomes a Bermondsey-born soldier.
''I was born in Bermondsey/ One of the south parts'', raps Lowkey to Logic's, ''And I was born in Basra/ Southside of Iraq''. Lowkey continues, ''We used to play football/ Outside in the park'', while Logic raps, ''We used to dodge bullets/ Outside in the dark''.
Though not massively re-listenable, this album is utterly commendable. We eagerly await the sound of Mongrel: Lowkey's brand new band that includes members of Babyshambles, Arctic Monkeys and Revered And The Makers.