Album: Devlin, Bud, Sweat & Beers (Island)
There's a fraught urgency about this debut album from the Essex rapper Devlin that speaks volumes about both the fast-changing nature and the lingering menace of UK hip-hop culture: the need to escape stress is a recurring motif in tracks like "Yesterday's News" and "Dreamer", while "Marching Through the Fog" refers to grime's "fog of war".
Even his tribute "London City", the track that helped propel Devlin to YouTube celebrity, comes with a caveat: "It's the best city in the world, when people aren't shanking and blasting". Hence his resolve, in "1989", to snatch fame as fast as possible – though he's more likely to achieve distinction via the more original tone of pieces such as "End of Days" and "Our Father", which build in intriguing, spiritual ways on the conscious-rap style of his early protest anthem "Community Outcast".
DOWNLOAD THIS Community Outcast; Our Father; End of Days