Fast becoming the UK’s favourite MC, Big Narstie, a UK Rap and Grime artist from Brixton has dropped a pure viiiibe of a project for your summer.
Having been an MC since 2002, producing 5 EPs, and 9 mixtapes, and working with the likes of Professor Green, Giggs, and Wretch 32, as well as accumulating a host of awards, including 2012 & 2013 UMAs best Grime act, and appearing on TV shows like ‘Big Fat Quiz’, and now broadcasting his own ‘The Big Narstie Show’, Big Narstie has come through with an excellent 18 (26 including skits) track album, which has a production list including the likes of The Heavytrackerz, Show 'N Prove, Ripperman and Star.One, and a star-studded list of features, including Izzie Gibbs, Ed Sheeran, Panjabi MC, Shizzio, Craig David, etc.
Narstie includes at least 8 skits, which seamlessly bridge the gaps between the riddims, and he has drawn inspiration form several genres, to produce a collection of British Rap and Grime, which is both wavy and hard, dark and light, serious and fun, and which bears out the project’s title, (and perhaps the two sides of Narstie’s personality) throughout the album.
Track 1. BDL Protest Intro (Skit)
Narstie kicks of the project with a funny expose of his current cultural preferences and influence, Rastafarianism, smoking, thick gyals, being a dreamer, etc., in the form of a protest speech, warning us that the country is getting on the BDL wave, ‘even the whites’, and leading us into the first riddim of the project.
Track 2. Woah, Prod. Heavytrackerz
A classic Grime tune, influenced heavily by Black Rob’s 2000 Hip Hop classic ‘Woah’, making use of a takeoff sample, rolling hi-hats, a haunting choir synth, and the ‘Woah’ from Black Rob, The Trackerz provide the backdrop while Narstie lets everyone know, if they step to him, he can come with the dark and violence, and that he’s the best in the game, still. This riddim showing the harder side of both Narstie and the album.
Track 3. Hello Hi 2, Prod. Show N Prove, Feat. Ed Sheeran
Part 2 of 2015’s ‘Hello Hi’, Narstie has enlisted Ed Sheeran to feature on this classic Grime remake, rapping his own bars no less. Still as vibey as it was the first time around, with a hook that never leaves your mind, the inclusion of Ed’s bars brings a smile to your face, showing the other side to Narstie’s character, a man all about the wave.
Track 4. 5AM, Prod. Heavytrackerz, Feat. Moelogo
A calmer, heavily afrobeats inspired riddim, with a percussive melody, Narstie brings us a piece of his soft-hearted side in this tune. Sharing how he feels himself to be a beast, and his daughter to be a princess, how his life on the road keeps him apart from her too much, but how she keeps him focused, and that his love for her overrides all else within him, and has tamed him, this is the perfect lazy, hazy, drifting summer vibe.
Track 5. Hell No, Prod. Trolley Snatcha, Feat. Izzie Gibbs & Dizmack
Coming with a darker drill inspired pattern, Snatcha hits us with a heavy continuous sub bass, muted, water like melody and Izzie and Dizmack bring us a hook which is so passionate, anyone who knows what it is to try to make it out of their ends, can feel it right in there chest. Narstie, Izzie And Dizmack show us yet another side to both Narstie’s character, being a dreamer through musical expression and feeling it so deep that it pours out dark and passionate, and makes you feel to scream it yourself. With a retelling of the familiar rap tale, that of trying to manoeuvre through the fakes and snakes, to get out of ends, with your freedom intact, and your mind not too damaged by what you’ve seen. This is a deeper one, still, excellently executed, cannot stop yelling it at full volume!
Track 6. Love Is A Game, Prod. Star.One, Feat. Chu
A drum and bass inspired riddim, with a heavy dance vibe, featuring a hook sung by Chu, this track shows how Narstie feels about the women in his life. He shares that he and his past love had been on too different a path for the relationship to work, that he was doing up road, that they didn’t trust or love enough, and that his Mum has always had his back, but that she feared for his life and freedom because of the choices he made. Narstie shows a little of his remorseful side here.
Track 7. BDL Radical Skit
This skit shows Narstie’s view of every man’s place in the world, in light of the black man’s plight, and expresses that all those who are oppressed must never give up the fight for freedom, which brings us neatly to the vibe of the next riddim on the project.
Track 8. Grime Battle of Hastings, Prod. Ripperman & Dan Vinci, Feat. The Town Crier
A return to classic Grime production, with aggressive overtones, using military marching and horse hoof samples, horns, and choir ad-libs, Narstie brings his violent side to the fore. He shares how he can beat any Grime MC, that they were fakes anyway since they all ran to pop and glamour, but that he is true road, and really comes from the bits, and will never sell out his character to makes some P. He will not compromise himself, it’s him as he is, grit and all, or nothing.
Track 9. Charlie Sheen, Prod. Dan Vinci, Feat. Hellabandzee
A skippy, live UK Rap riddim, using a sample of Charlie Sheen, Narstie references his lifestyle habits heavily throughout, and walks us through the fun side of his personality, rapping about how he’s living like Charlie Sheen ‘without the aids’, loving life and getting all the bags. Hellabandzee adds drill style bars, letting us know he does whatever to get the P. This is a definite summer jam for real, with a fully catchy hook, that puts a smile straight on your face.
Track 10. Sunshine, Prod. Star.One, Feat. Craig David and Star.One
A prodigy influenced, jungle style track, utilising a breakbeat style drum pattern and a classic Lin Collins sample, Star.One brings us an old skool style riddim, and Narstie brings us some old skool style alphabet bars, peppered with clever cultural references, where Narstie shares he was told he’d never make it as himself, that the ghetto nearly swallowed him, but he believed in himself, worked hard, and here he is. The bars are broken up with a dance style, melancholy hook sung by Craig. A reminder of Narstie’s metal, and a pure skank, fr.
Track 11. Taxi to Brixton Skit
A short skit about a taxi driver bothering Narstie and him getting aggro. Another snapshot into the darker side of Narstie.
Track 12. Celebrate, Prod. HeavyTrackerz, Feat. Teedot & Tizzy
A mellow rap tune, with heavy piano and patterned kicks and snares, Narstie raps in a light flow, about what he does to have fun, rapping about gyal, partying, drinking, and smoking, but reminding man, that you still can’t step, another summer vibe, with a seriously wavy hook.
Track 13. Chabuddy G Skit, Feat. Chabuddy G
Chabuddy G, part of Kurupt Fm shouts out Narstie in the skit, leading into the next skit.
Track 14. Asian BDL Skit, Feat. Moe
This skit is done using Indian and also shouts out BDL and Narstie, leading succinctly into the next track.
Track 15. How You Dance, Prod. Panjabi MC, Feat, Shizzio and Panjabi MC
Utilising Panjabi MC’s classic riddim, used previously by the likes of Jay Z, Narstie shows us he’s up there with the best of them. Exposing a varied musical palette of inspiration, and an ear for excellent production, Narstie takes us on a wavy trip, with plenty of bars about gyaldem, and vibing from both him and Shizzio. A party tune for everyone.
Track 16. Help, Prod. Show N Prove, Feat. Laville
A return to a more serious tone, in both production and topic. With a heavy piano melody, and full band sound, using haunting vocal synths, and Laville singing a deep sad hook, Narstie shares a little of his painful life history. Here we learn Narstie has struggled to get here, he has suffered through hunger and pain, suicidal thoughts, having to do road to make it, hearing his own family tell him he wouldn’t, but also how his mandem saved him, and how he is down for them always. He shouts them all out by name, and promises to lay down his life, should the situation ever call for it. A deep, vibey riddim, and an introspective moment brought to life.
Track 17. Daddy Go Hard, Prod. HeavyTrackerz, Feat. Nina Alexis & Scouse Tremz
Back to a darker Grime tempo, with marching drums, vocal synths, a slow hook, half sung, Narstie comes a little darker, explaining how he grew up in ends, had to fight to get through, and had to become hard, but how he got a drive and determination to make it via that. Scouse Tremz’ bars echo the sentiment. Referencing Scarface in the wavy hook, the verses hit like bullets, a nod to the title. Again showing the dark side of Narstie.
Track 18. Keith Lemon Skit
Keith shouts out BDL, the album and the next track.
Track 19. Sloosha, Prod. Show N Prove
A split-style riddim, utilising old style dance samples, breakbeat drum patterns, and darker, harder bass line sounds back to back, Narstie follows the double-edged theme of the album in his flows, rapping the verses in a lighter style, and the hook in a heavy, dank, mosh style, call out, scream rap. Bipolar indeed. During the track, Narstie shares that not all love stories ‘have a happy ending’ and he seems introspective about the causes, but when we get to the hook he reverts to an aggro tone, and calls the gyal out. Indeed bipolar. A stroke of genius.
Track 20. Lonely Road, Prod. Star.One, Feat. Chu
A riddim influenced by Ska and Dub, with breakbeat drum patterns, and a hook is sung by Chu in a classic dance riddim style, with a driving melody, and classic synths. Narstie takes us on a journey through the pain he has endured, how he lost his people, they turned their backs, and how he had to drag himself up out of it. Another nod to the darker, more sombre side of Narstie’s life.
Track 21. What Is It Now, Prod. HeavyTrackerz
Utilising Wagner’s ‘Flight of the Valkyries’ as a rousing backdrop, chopped and sampled along with rolling hi-hats, a heavy kick, and deep bassline for the backdrop, Narstie returns to classic Grime style of spitting, with a mosh style hook, and hard-hitting bars. Narstie shares that loyalty is of vital importance to him, he’s on his way to the crown, and needs only real around him, using a lot of British cultural references, Narstie comes hard on this one.
Track 22. Big Bro Skit, Feat. Big Bro
A skit from Narstie’s fam, where we learn Narstie is exactly what he claims to be, and worked hard to be there, that he deserves it, and that his brother is as proud as anyone can be.
Track 23. Sinners, Prod. Xaviour, Feat. Saviour
Back to slower, somber vibes, but with a deep expression of introspection, and a weighing up of his sins, as well as a drive for greatness, and a determination to do well for his daughter, Narstie comes with a softer flow over a UK Rap style beat, with water like synths and haunting vocal samples, asking God for forgiveness for his past sins, and hoping for a brighter future.
Track 24. Control, Prod. Show N Prove, Feat. Raleigh Ritchie
Returning to a classic Grime tempo, with rolling hi-hats, heavy synth use, and with an anguish-ridden hook sung by Raleigh, Narstie spits darker about trying to make it out of ends by any means, doing road, getting all the gyal, and being the best rapper. A great skanking riddim.
Track 25. Mae Mae Skit
Here we see the soft side of Narstie again, talking gently to his daughter, leading perfectly into the next track.
Track 26. Blood, Prod. Star.One, Feat. Takura
Coming back to a positive vibe for this tune about his daughter, with choir synths, breakbeat drum patterns, and a softly sung hook by Takura, Narstie promises to always be there for her, to do all he can to fight his demons, and work hard to be all she needs, no matter what he’s seen, or even what he is. He wishes he could be around more, he wishes the rest of his family saw her worth, it breaks his heart they don’t, but he’s going to make her life the greatest it could ever be. A fully emotional close to the album.
Narstie has produced an absolutely fire album, showing the facets of both his character, and his musical influences, his life and loves, his history and future, and has made the the project as a whole, worthy of the title. Showing both darkness and light in every way, it’s easy to love Big Narstie. He comes every time with realness, and is fast becoming a national treasure, still. An outstanding album, all round.