Written by Edward Burrell
Over the course of his career, AJ Tracey has always been primarily a grime MC with Drill influences, he might as well be Merky Ace’s apprentice as their flows are similar. But it seems to be with his recent releases, he’s been experimenting with different sounds, rather than sticking to 140 bpm grime beats or drill beats. LA4AWEEK and Pasta are good examples. It’s a very different sound to what AJ usually spits on.
This is due to him forming a relationship with the unique producer Nyge, and coincidently, Nyge producer both those tracks. Nyge has produced most of the tracks on this album, so that’s where this new sound has come from. His career truly started when his instrumental was used for Lock Aff, which gives you an idea of his style of producing. But even though it’s a new sound, his rap flow and punchlines are still the same, this is still the AJ Tracey we know and love.
My favourite track on this album however wasn’t even producer by Nyge, it was actually produced by Sir Spyro. If any of you read my “Grimehead’s guide to the radio” you’ll know how much respect I have for Sir Spyro. The sounds of Spyro are instantly recognisable, staying true to 140 bpms alongside the range samples he has in his arsenal. So, in order to compliment that, AJ Tracey pulls out a grimey flow on Blacked out. With plenty of punchlines (“Man will get a liff like its spiritual”) and an addictive hook, it made sense to release this one as a single.
Quarterback really does show this combination of AJ Tracey’s trademark flows alongside a new with Nyge on the buttons. The piano sample is a nice touch with the drum pattern, but you wouldn’t necessarily call this a drill beat, so it is a new sound for AJ. But AJ will still miss the drop if he wants, and on this track his bars are on point, with a lot of word play around the general theme and the title.
When talking about new sound, this might even refer to working with different artists, one that we just wouldn’t expect. UK rap and grime have been affiliating with a lot of American rappers as of recent, meaning this in theory is predictable. However, Alakazam with the combination of JME and Denzel Curry is still a surprise to me. When I first came across Denzel Curry with his EP “13”, I thought lyrically, he was sound in regards to the US rappers of today. But I never thought he would suit this track. Thankfully I was wrong, and Denzel flies to flag for America as an XXL Freshman. JME simply has only put out one wack verse in his life, and this definitely was not it.
But we can’t forget AJ Tracey’s drill rap influences with tracks such as Packages, which makes linking up with 67 for the track Tour Team is a great decision. LD has always stood out to me in the group, bringing a good hook to a track seems to be natural to him. Seeing as 67 just came back from tour and AJ Tracey is about to start a tour of his own, the title is quite ironic.
This really is the tour team, but sadly it makes it unlikely AJ tracey would bring 67 out on his tour. If he did then I guess there is no rest for 67, as they’ve had a very successful year as well, and I’m sure this EP will do similar things for AJ Tracey.