Maaaan. When is this city going to get recognised on the national stage? The UK Hip-Hop spotlight seems to have done the rounds of all other cities but London in the last couple of years. The more I expose myself to the dazzling variety of great music coming out of Nottingham, the more I convince myself that it won’t be long until it gets the national recognition it deserves.
From Dublin to Manchester, from Liverpool to Brum, hip-hop heads long and far are looking to see what the rest of the British isles have been cooking up in the kitchen after the spotlight being relentlessly and almost exclusively pointed at the capital.
Good, I say.
It’s about damn time too because these guys have been waiting in the sidelines for too long! Relentless veterans of the East Mids rap game, Local Healers (Ty Healy, Nay Loco) and Louis Cypher have been around for a minute.
As it so often happens in this city, local artists quickly become home-grown celebrities and these guys probably can’t walk through Market Square without being stopped at least twice.
For some, that may be enough but I really hope that these guys use their latest project to trampoline bounce their way into national or — heck — international fame.
On the surface, this record is pleasing to the ears and could easily be listened to in its entirety at your family pic-nic in the park. Antwerp-based producer Faux Sala has come through with an irresistibly smooth blend of classic golden-age jazz-rap sounds and those ‘Lo-fi music to study to’ videos on YouTube.
Skipping along this Nujab-esque cloud of sunshine lies the poignant message of Paintings on the Wall. Directly relevant to 2020 and all of its fuckeries, this project has the government’s pandemic performance in its sights and, dare I say, shots have been fired!
“This project is dedicated to creatives everywhere to let them know that even when the powers that be want us to pack it up, we should keep adding colour to this grey looking world. […] Each song is its own mural the more you take in, the more you take away from it.”
- Ty Healy
More than anything, it’s a tribute to the Arts and to those who pursue them. A tribute to those who have been shafted by Johnson & Co. after, let’s face it, being exploited and paid minimally for a tremendous outpouring of work. These people continue to live, breathe and eat music at all costs because it is what they love, it’s their life and Cypher and the Healers want these livelihoods to be acknowledged.
“Paintings On The Wall’ Came about after thinking about each individual track as a work of art, within that we explore the current and possible future struggles for all kinds or artists.”
- Nay Loco
It’s a heart-warming hug being extended to all creators out there who are being confronted with an existential threat to their vocation and livelihood by the current pandemic and the Conservative government’s handling of it. Art is not a hobby, it’s a lifestyle that, for so many, makes life worth living. That’s not to be taken lightly.
“At the beginning of 2020, as we all collectively witnessed significant changes and traumas in our lives, the idea of being creative or making music any time soon, seemed like a distant dream to me. However this project has proven just how valid art truly is. For its catharsis, its beauty and its ability to bring people together when that is what we needed the most.”
- Louis Cypher
What struck me the most about this record was how relevant it felt to my actual life. Maybe it’s because I lived in Notts and shared a similar extended friendship group with some of these guys but their mentions of Go-go’s (toys from the 90’s), conspiracy theories, Voodoo Chile, Sartre, podcasts and Narduwar brought a simple smile to my face and made me feel like I know these guys well.
There’s no pretension here, just love and realness. That’s all we needness.
The single “Renaissance” comes out on the 4th Dec
The EP “Paintings On The Wall” comes out on the 29th Jan.
Pre-Order here —
This will be released through INFL’s hip hop imprint I’m Not From Brooklyn Records
Photos by Paul W Dixon