Exclusives 8 October 2020
Author: Joe Simpson

GRM Exclusive: Headie One takes drill to new heights on his debut album ‘Edna’

8 October 2020

Headie One has been a focal point of UK drill for quite some time now. The controversial genre, which came from Chicago, has since taken on a life of its own in the British Isles. It comes as no surprise that Edna, Headie’s debut album, is one of the most highly anticipated releases of the year. The 20 track behemoth of a record certainly does not disappoint, showcasing the Tottenham rapper’s versatility and maturity, whilst not losing the raw storytelling and emotion that got him into pole position in the first place.

Named after his late mother, the album kicks off with “Teach Me”, an ad-lib that flows through the album. Headie is asking Edna to teach him forgiveness, whilst being able to mix this powerful emotion with effortless melodic flows. This is followed by “Psalm 35” (a biblical prayer for protection), echoing the sentiments of the first track, and acting as a one two punch of passion and honesty. There is certainly a real feeling of spiritual growth that permeates the album, which is demonstrative of the growth of Headie as an artist.

The start of “Breathing” feels incredibly poignant, whilst “Therapy” and “Cold” at the back end of the album see him at his most introspective. On “Cold”, He raps, “I used to love the trap like it would love me back, I couldn’t wait for the day to say I’m done with that”. This narrative of spiritual and personal growth flows across the album, and gives it structure as a body of work, exhibiting a mature attitude to both subject matter and artistry.

Spiritual growth and maturity aside, the album is most definitely still loaded with bangers. Just a cursory glance at features will have most fans fantasising about the prospect of hearing Headie alongside the likes of Future, M Huncho and Young Adz.

Headie One has proven himself to be one of the best drill artists in the world time and time again. “Triple Science” sees Headie in his element, complemented by a booming bass and eerie melody, while his aggressive flows on “Bumpy Ride” are brilliantly contrasted by M Huncho’s exquisite work on the melodic hook. Young T and Bugsey return the favour for Headie’s guest spot on “Don’t Rush” with a Spanish guitar infused belter “Princess Cuts”, while Aitch’s bouncy, playful lyricism on “Parlez-Vous Anglais” provide a bag of quotables alongside Headie’s laidback, effortlessly flows.

Haile and Mahalia bring some soulful cuts towards the end of the album, while Skepta and Ivorian Doll create some serious highlights on “Try Me” and “F U Pay Me” respectively. It is also testament to Headie’s global appeal and attention that both Future and Drake appear on the album, showcasing the expansion of his artistic influence.

Lyrically, Headie One does not disappoint across the record. There are the customary football bars we have come to expect, such as “He tryna do both, Tryna score and distribute balls like Chamberlain’ on “Triple Science”, or the Dwight Yorke reference on “The Light”. There is also a slew of Harry Potter and Matilda references on “21 Gun Salute” with Young Adz, which while surprising, come off as light relief for the heavy topics Headie touches on. What stands out most however is the North London rapper’s raw and honest storytelling. “Mainstream Rapper” touches on the duality of his current success and his past, where he raps, “Mainstream Rapper or a grass on the wing? Mainstream rapper or an arse full of cling?”. Headie One has a talent for open, straight to the point storytelling, making his music accessible and creating a bond between artist and listener.

Production across the record is varied, which should come as no surprise to those who have listened to Music x Road and GANG. There are many tracks which contain a traditional drill combination of haunting, echoey vocals and warped bass, yet there is also a real sense of diversified sound. Frequent collaborator Fred Again samples a classic Red Hot Chilli Peppers track on the star studded “Ain’t It Different”, while Kenny Beats ramps up the energy with bass and drums on “F U Pay Me”.

Headie and Pretty Ricky. Probably two things you never thought you’d hear in a sentence together, but “Everything Nice” sees a revival of the classic “On The Hotline”, as Haile croons over the classic sample with Headie switching up his delivery.

is therefore further confirmation that Headie One is one of the most exciting rap prospects to have ever come out of the UK. The album is a masterful display of diversity and emotive storytelling, whilst not sacrificing the sound which has got him to where he is already. While it has felt like a debut album was long overdue, what he has created is certainly worth the wait. With a stellar cast of international features Headie has the world at his feet, and is sitting happily atop the throne, and it doesn’t look like he’s going to be toppled anytime soon.