Dubbul O

Smoka-Motive

Although there are plenty of references to weed in this EP, you don't need to be a fan of the green stuff in order to appreciate Dubbul O's latest project. The Manchester rapper has lots to say, especially about the internal struggle between positivity and negativity, while producer Mankub's eclectic beats perfectly complement his flows.

The title track is a funky, off-kilter number with a slow, lazy groove. Sultry vocals and woodwind frame Dubbul O's impressive, lightning-quick rhymes. Mankub's genius on this track is combining contrasting sounds and somehow making them work.

Good luck keeping up with Dubbul O on the last track, ‘Mussbemental’, as he fires words out like speeding bullets. This track really showcases Dubbul O's vocal skills with his catch me if you can delivery.

‘In The Mix’ is moody and intense, but also mega catchy. Dark, industrial beats contrasts with an uplifting message. Dubbul O urges people to “fuck the misery, deflect it,” then issues a call to the people who are “unified for revolution”.

‘Do What You Can’ is a heavenly tune, featuring the lush vocals of Tyler Daley (Children Of Zeus.) With its infectious chorus, dreamy harmonies and lashings of flute, this tips the balance as my favourite track. Daley and Dubbul O both excel lyrically with their insightful and probing rhymes.

The main takeaways are ‘In The Mix’ and ‘Do What You Can’, which serve like motivational tapes. Whack them on whenever you're feeling worried or uncertain for that much-needed kick up the behind.

Red Hen

NABIHAH IQBAL

WEIGHING OF THE HEART

For her debut album, Weighing of the Heart, Nabihah Iqbal drops her alias Throwing Shade in favour of her birth name, a creative decision weighted with symbolism in light of the spiritual themes that underpin the work. The title and cover art allude to an ancient Egyptian ritual of religious judgement and Iqbal’s lyrics are embedded with meditations regarding life and meaning, explored poetically and often with a level of abstraction.

‘Zone 1 to 6000’ is reminiscent of William Blake as it details the bustle of crowds on an average night in London, crowds that have lost their sense of purpose and stagnate in unquestioned routine. Similarly, ‘Something More’ touches on this perceived sense of spiritual malnourishment, but again akin to the great romantic poet, Iqbal seems to suggest that salvation can still be found when engaging with the more transcendental aspects of human existence: love, dreams and music.

But despite implied social criticism in the lyrics, the instrumentation on this album is resolutely tranquil, rather than biting. The vocals are anything but intrusive, almost whispered behind the unconventional medley of pensive guitar riffs, synths and dance beats, which are elegantly brought together. Tracks like ‘Eden Piece’ are completely devoid of lyrics and seem to encourage the listener to reflect on their own life, their own thoughts of existential unrest, which stalk us all like shadows through our daily lives, but to our detriment often go unaddressed.

Liam Casey