“sic - used in brackets after a copied or quoted word that appears odd or erroneous to show that the word is quoted exactly as it stands in the original”
It’s pretty hard to walk your own path in rap music this late in the day, to remain true to where you’re from and to the roots of the music you love while honouring your own intelligence and creating something original. On his debut album, [sic], twenty one year old Elliott Egerton achieves just that. Slamming together a raw mix of contemporary sounds that he describes as “punk-donk-dub-hip-hop,” then colliding this with the mercurial, hard-hitting brilliance of his lyricism, Egerton has made a debut album which sounds both true and new.
We could, in true press release style, run you through some of the songs on the album and tell you what to think about them. We would, in all honesty, prefer you just to listen, with the lyric sheet we’ve provided close at hand. Egerton treats music and lyrics much the same. He picks through the detritus of modern pop culture, politics, youth culture, copious drug references and hip hop history and from it he fashions outlandish, stoned and aggravated, misshapen beats and quick-witted, cunning lyrics which often mean exactly the opposite of what they say, metaphors piled one on top of another, so you’re sure he’ll trip as he skips through them (he never does). Take “Your Gay”, for instance (even the misspelling in the title a deliberate pun). On the surface this dark epic is a low joke, when in fact without completely excusing himself and certainly without preaching he lands sly blows on the kind of man who “prefers it grey, though / Gets nervous and uncomfortable when he sees a rainbow.”
This is a very different Liverpool to the chirp-scouse tradition established by the Beatles and paid loving homage to by successive generations of Mersey-based musicians. Instead, Egerton strings together image- and pun-laden tales of drink, drugs, the DSS, machismo, petty crime and quiet desperation, though never without a lyrical sting in the tail: “these snot nosed kids trying to tease police / thinking breaching the peace is a beast / sleeping on each other’s three piece suites in the week / fleece beak for their keep, beat their meat, and repeat just to keep them sweet / the real five a day, don't know where they're getting off thinking crime will pay” (new single, “Fars Yer Whop”).
Bang On! first appeared on 1Xtra when he was just twelve years old (on the tune “Pass The Mic”, as Young L). He was featured on the cover of the late, lamented Hip Hop Connection when he was only seventeen, alongside the likes of Roots Manuva and Skinny Man. Although he’s young, this debut album has been a long time coming. Through talking honestly (and funnily) about himself and his life, the contradictions, the problems as well as the transitory highs, Bang On! paints a portrait of his city and through that, a portrait of his country and of a moment in time. He could’ve made a play to be the next “next British Eminem”. Instead, he’s made a play to be himself.