P110 – ‘P110 the Album’ (Review)

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OZ Records (2017)

After racking up over 100,000,000 views on their broadcasting channel, it was only right that P110 released an album to showcase their limitless pool of talent. Featuring a select bunch of MCs from all over the map, ‘P110 the Album’ demonstrates that a mixture of gritty and soulful soundscapes serves as the perfect platform to reconcile the various dialects, accents and flows that the UK scene has to offer.

Consisting of eight tracks, eight MCs (plus some accent vocals from Shadow) and a run-time that falls just short of half an hour, each member works overtime to make sure their personal stamp is left on the tape. The initial sequence – as you can imagine – is a declaration of biblical proportions. Jaykae, undoubtedly Birmingham’s most passionate MC, spits tenaciously amidst eerie choral lines and soft bongos, flipping the script on one of P110’s more popular digital features: ‘Hood’s hottest I’m the hottest in my hood / You best believe because I’m not misunderstood / You’re not a shotter not a thug’.

The following two tracks continue in a similar vein. Fredo, who dropped a monstrous trap hit in the form of ‘They Ain’t 100’ last year, delivers another gem for the DJs to shell down functions with. ‘Nothings New’, with its schizophrenic, arpeggiated synths and thundering bass, finds Fredo firing off more effortless bravado, ensuring each bar’s final syllable comes slapping down on the kick drum for added drama. Back in Brum, however, Tempa whips up some 140bpm sorcery for ‘Who Said’. Clanging cymbals, plucked strings and distorted bass generate an unparalleled urgency for his relentless vocal assault: ‘Went to the bar with ya ting / Says she wanna hold six shots like I carry the beatah / One of Birmingham’s ‘ardest spitters and I don’t need to do no feachahhh’.

Staying on the topic of Brum, Stardom puts in a solid performance on ‘Lizzy’. However, his efforts are slightly marred by the mix: Stardom’s vocal is a little too low and constantly jostles for space with the 808. As a result, attempting to dissect his lyrics amongst the raucous instrumentation becomes a pretty strenuous task. That being said, he’s clearly got bars.

Moving forward, however, Nottingham’s Splinta sands off the edges with his beautifully soulful cut ‘Getting Mine’. Featuring a gorgeous sample of Submotion Orchestra’s ‘All Yours’ (also flipped by Bryson Tiller), Splinta uses this poignant ambience as a vehicle to exhibit some of the darker elements of his psyche: ‘I’ve been stressed / I’ve been depressed and I’ve been broken / I ain’t lyin’/ Fallin’ down but I keep gettin’ back up and I keep on tryin’. Similarly, Ard Adz blesses us with ‘Thinking’ – a pensive, acoustic guitar-driven track that offers a refreshing counterpoint to some of the tape’s darker cuts.

The best two tracks on this thing, however, have to go to Aystar and Mist (it’s worth noting that Shadow on the Beat gets behind the boards for both of these). Hailing from Liverpool, Aystar’s throaty, warbly flow glides effortlessly over Shadow’s plucks and snares; never has such a softly spoken Scouser sounded so menacing! He can be funny too, though: ‘Pull up at the drive-thru at Maccies casually’. Mist, on the other hand, has his bouncy Brum-hop on lock, and doesn’t disappoint with ‘These Days’. Shadow dials in a bendy bassline which is juxtaposed perfectly with some pitched-up, hypnotic vocal yaps – and all Mist has to do is go in: ‘These days man are broke out there rude boy no salary (ahh) / Niggas can’t fuck with my squad nah nah can’t fuck with my faculty (nah nah nah nah) / Cah man a ride out real late rude boy boom bang cause casualties’.

What is it about Mist’s delivery that’s so mesmerising? Is it hearing a Birmingham MC spit with the articulacy that you’d expect from Skepta? Is it how comfortable he sounds behind the mic? Or perhaps it’s the catchy phrases he uses to pad out his cadences? It’s probably all of the above, however, one thing is for sure: Mist and Shadow on the beat are a match made in sonic heaven.

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