If there was one word to describe Youngs Teflon, it would be esoteric. Defined as ‘intended for or likely to be understood by only a small number of people with a specialised knowledge or interest’. The word encapsulates this reality perfectly as despite Tef’s extremely impressive catalogue of music he remains outside of the mainstream attention of the UK rap scene.
At least if Tefs is esoteric, it makes sense, because his music never was meant for the mainstream anyways. Regardless, Youngs Teflon has curated a catalogue over the last decade which is undeniable in terms of both quality and quantity. His combination of a completely unique lyrical style, mastery over his flow, delivery and indisputable artistic approach to music have established him as one of the most important rappers in the UK scene.
With his project Call of Duty III out now, GRM Daily celebrates his cultural impact as we reflect on some of his most essential tracks.
“When Thugs Cry”
As the title suggests, this song is recognition that all of us, even the certified thugs, are susceptible to heartbreak. A filtered vocal sample compliments sparkling keys which combine to create an emotional production which lends itself perfectly to reflection on lost love. Tefs raps longingly, wondering how it all went wrong when everything once seemed so perfect. Lines such as “After hours I fall break and break buds/Thinking about you with French plaits and no makeup” evokes the sense of desolation that so many people have experienced when they lose someone they love.
This ability to create extremely relatable music about love, whilst still maintaining the street perspective, illustrates part of why for the last decade he has been so revered throughout the UK scene.
This song is an exploration into the darker corners of Tefs mind, as he vents his frustrations with his own life and the people around him. Once again, Tefs flexes his lyrical talent, with lines such as “I ain’t switched on my phone in like three days, and I don’t know where the charger is/They say im talented, but I need marketing”, offering precious insight into the mindset of a man who appears to have everything figured out.
This song is made for those late night, introspective drives alone. Potentially the most artistic song on Blood, Swvgg and Tears, Youngs Teflon makes it clear why his position as perhaps the most esoteric rapper in the current UK scene is so undeniable.
Offering a sequel of sorts to Nas’ classic “I gave you power”, Youngs Teflon personifies a firearm, charting its journey throughout the streets of London from the perspective of the gun itself. Carns Hill provides a majestic, yet eerie production for Tefs to glide over. The first line of the chorus is painfully poignant, as Teflon raps “I give and I take away power, every time that you raise me” illustrating the power a gun gives to the person who raises it whilst simultaneously taking away power from the person it is being used against.
This is perhaps the most creative song Tefs has ever created, which in the vast catalogue of Youngs Teflon music is no mean feat. The ability of Youngs Teflon to rap about serious subject matter has never been disputed, but this song demonstrates a level of writing and lyrical ability that is extremely unique to the UK scene.
“Cameras” Feat Blade Brown
Two of South London’s most iconic rappers of the last decade come together for this classic, which is off the same tape as “When Thugs Cry”. The hook is clever, playing off of the fact Tefs feels he has always been surrounded by cameras; “I spent my teens hustling, skipping cameras” to now, “everywhere I go another freaking camera” referencing his burgeoning success at the time.
The relaxed keys and laidback percussion combine with Youngs Teflon’s effortless flow and lyricism to create a luxurious sound, which encapsulates the “glitz and glamour” Teflon is now experiencing. Blade Brown delivers his verse in the same style that he is well known for, with his slow, yet direct flow meshing perfectly with his stories of trials, tribulations and ultimately success as a young street entrepreneur.
“Sixteen” will probably always be my favourite Youngs Teflon song, despite the fact that his recent releases continue to impress.
“Sixteen” deals with a gambit of emotions, but primarily the relationship between pain and resilience; with Tefs breaking down numerous sources of pain which have resulted in him developing a high degree of resilience, no matter the challenge posed to him. Indeed, on the chorus Tefs professes “It was me against the world since I was sixteen” illustrating the undeniable pain he has gone through, but by rapping “But real talk, I was better than you man when I was sixteen” he reasserts his confidence, demonstrating how his tribulations and unique experiences have moulded him into someone not to be taken lightly.
“South London Press”
Youngs Teflon taps Carns Hill for production on a song which epitomises South London through the perspective of Tefs himself. Playing on the phrase “South London Press” in a multitude of ways throughout the chorus, Tefs demonstrates once again his undisputed lyrical ability throughout the song.
The music video follows Tefs and a friend driving around South London in a pristine Mercedes Benz, documenting particular locations of significance. Combined with this video, “South London Press” really places you in the South London streets, ensuring that this piece of art is an appropriate homage to the setting for much of Tef’s life.
“Hustlers Don’t Die”
“Hustlers Don’t Die” has gone on to become a five part series spanning Tefs’ career, but the first installment is perhaps the most legendary, even today. Tefs spits over a lavish beat, detailing the realities of his life whilst exquisite guitar licks annunciate every bar he raps. From the moment Tefs raps “Like…Listen to a G’s tale” you are absorbed in a seemingly never ending labyrinth of clever wordplay and precise flows. Lines such as “Got a flower then we learnt how to stack the bread” convey Tefs signature coded language, which is so effective at evoking visual images in the head of the listener in abstract or obscure ways.
Fittingly, Tefs released “Hustlers Don’t Die Part 5” earlier this year, which is undoubtedly also a banger, playing on similar themes to the original. Even merely for the fact that this song is the beginning of this legendary sequence of tracks ensures it deserves to be fully taken in and understood, as it offers a lot of insight into Tefs as a rapper when he was just starting out.
“Nandos” Feat LD & Monkey
This is another seemingly ageless tune from Youngs Teflon, and is even more iconic for the presence of two more than stellar verses from 67 members LD and Monkey. Tefs offers a great chorus, rhyming more words with “Nandos” than you would think is humanly possible.
There is not a bad verse on this song, with everyone delivering verses of a high calibre, particularly Tefs’ star turn at the end of the song. This song is again important because of the snapshot it offers into the scene at the time. It was released on the 2nd of January, 2016, more than a month before the release of “Lets Lurk”; perhaps one of the songs that changed the drill scene forever.
“Pain Is The Essence RMX”
“Pain Is The Essence” is perhaps one of the most iconic songs to come out during the road rap era. To this day, just hearing the first few notes of the beat is enough to trigger a surge of emotion and nostalgia. Complete with exemplary contributions from both Dubz and Giggs, the song is an incredible piece of art which will go down in UK Rap history forever. Therefore, any attempt to rap on this beat is a tall order, which most UK rappers wouldn’t ever dream of trying, but Tefs is not just any other UK rapper.
Call Of Duty III is out now! Be sure to stream it below, and keep it locked on GRM Daily for any further updates!