An infectious introduction to some rightly rising pop-rap talents.
Mike Diver 2011
It’s been a fantastic year for Rizzle Kicks, aka fresh-faced Brighton duo Jordan Stephens (19 years old) and Harley Alexander-Sule (20 next month), ex-students of the BRIT School. Unknown to the public as recently as May 2011, the pair’s debut single Prophet (Better Watch It) caused enough of a stir online for its follow-up, Down With the Trumpets, to climb into the UK top 10 in June. And two months later they went all the way to number one, as guests on Olly Murs’ Heart Skips a Beat. Stereo Typical therefore carries the weight of no little expectation on its shoulders – but it does so with an appealing spring in its step, as well as a cautious swagger, and with plenty of good-natured humour that reaches beyond their predominantly young audience.
Given its makers’ ages it’s no surprise that Stereo Typical’s lyrical content is largely rooted in the social calendar of inbetweeners – too young to go here, too old to be seen there. When I Was a Youngster talks of losing enthusiasm for being a fireman as soon as cider could be acquired – it adds, "these days you can catch me sitting on a bench in the park with a lager and crisps" – atop skittering percussion and enjoyable brass. Dreamers explores a more innocent time in our protagonists’ lives – "I’m gonna take myself to the moon and back in my dreams" – which is still incredibly fresh in the memory; and Miss Cigarette makes a beginners-level parallel between nicotine addiction and one’s lust for a particular girl. But with a refreshingly laidback approach to production, recalling both D.A.I.S.Y. age hip hop and the ska-meets-soul-meets-pop mix that accompanied the first Lily Allen LP, at no point do clichéd couplets become a problem. As the pair’s worldview expands, they’ll introduce more impressive imagery into their rhymes – which, it must be said, are tight enough right now.
At 14 tracks Stereo Typical is a couple of filler cuts too full of itself – Demolition Man could certainly have been lopped from the final product without affecting its first impressions, and the Fatboy Slim-produced Mama Do the Hump doesn’t really fit with the more relaxed feel of what surrounds it. But Rizzle Kicks’ debut, by bypassing the commonplace put-downs of peers and proffering a very British take on pop-flavoured rap, is an accomplished and infectious introduction to some rightly rising talents.