An alternative to the stereotypical modern rap sound which Eminem once called ‘crap’.
Once again this year I trawled through the BBC Sound of 2015 nominees and pretty much unraveled the expected; an upcoming indie band, a singer songwriter with an acoustic guitar, a rock act for diversity and a rapper in necessity. However, George The Poet, who made it to the 5th spot on the prestigious list, seemed to suddenly be appearing everywhere online and after some research he began to stand out from the ground quite unexpectedly. His new single, CAT D, launched into our inbox, as well as onto Radio 1, and it demonstrates his unique approach to such an intense and played out genre.
The first major point of interest for this emerging artist is his name, ‘George the Poet’. This is explained by a quote from George which summarises his theology nicely;
“I think rappers are primarily expected to make money for the industry and provide party soundtracks, but obviously there are exceptions and grey areas. The poet’s ‘role’ is usually to provide thoughtful social commentary” –Interview with ‘Shapes and Disfigurements of Raymond Antrobus’
This becomes incredibly clear in this new track. The track opens smoothly, with deep moving chords and distant vocal shots providing a peaceful and relaxing soundscape, sweetly juxtaposing the intense musical style of George’s grime origins, and the giants of the genre at present. When the vocal breathes life into the track, it’s clear that the change of approach this artist utilises affects the content of the lyrics and therefore their accessibility. His relaxed and well-paced vocal allows for listeners to concentrate on the vocals and discover the words between the lines. George explains his love for his “hood rats” but identifies his life away from the culture of “mandems”, and it’s a new dynamic to see a rapper both acknowledging and distancing himself from this obsessive culture. He also comments on people’s appearances saying that the “numbers may be good, but it may not be all good under the hood’, a comment relating to the ‘fake’ nature of social media profiles and growing social pressurisation to conform to an acceptable personality. It is clear that George has built up substance and meaning behind the lyrics with his observations on the social structure of the world at the moment, and the production of the track from Chance Wilson (Wretch 32, Skepta) gives him a clear platform to express this but allows enough drive to keep the track moving.
In conclusion, if you’re looking for an alternative to the stereotypical modern rap sound which Eminem once called ‘crap’, I would highly recommend this track and artist. It doesn’t try to draw you in with catchy melodies or even a particularly complex track, but instead relies on the listener connecting with the substance of the lyrics behind the track. It’s not for everyone of course, but you will definitely have a greater understanding with this track than the average Radio 1 play. Because of this I think George should have earned a higher place on the Sound of 2015 rankings, purely for bringing depth and meaning back to a genre which currently has it’s number one song on the Billboard chart as ‘I Don’t f*** With You’.