The self proclaimed ‘Young Peckham Boy’, Kwengface, has already made a name for himself away from the pioneering, infamous Drill group, Zone 2. The group are not without controversy, but there is no doubt that both Kwengface and the rest of the collectives members played a key role in popularising the Drill sound. Kwengface has been able to navigate his way through the scene in a way that has enabled him to showcase his ferocious rapping ability. You only have to look at last year’s Daily Duppy, or his previous mixtape, YPB: Tha Come Up, to see that the Peckham rapper has talent for beat selection to go along with his brand of hard hitting flows. His latest project, YPB: The Archive, sees the artist at the top of his game, as he demonstrates musical versatility and lyrical prowess.
The project starts with Kwengface in his element. The heavy basslines and 808 Drum patterns on the opener, “Runtz”, fit perfectly with Kweng’s fast flows and violent punchlines. This is followed by “Oh My”, another heavy Drill cut that is brightened by a female vocal sample that sporadically enters the beat. Kweng’s energy on this track is outstanding, as he is able to carry himself over the beat with enough presence for there to be no need for a hook. These opening tracks, along with the other single for the record, “Ten Years”, see Kwengface in his element, yet that is not to say the project is without versatility.
There is a wide variety of production across the tape which allows Kwengface to come out of his comfort zone and express himself on different types of instrumentals. While “Plankton”, a collaboration with CB, still has the same pace as the previously named tracks, the production gives the track a lift and allows Kweng to experiment with different flows.
We also see the production informing Kweng’s lyrics on “Live Forever”, as the slower tempo lets the rapper get introspective as he breaks down his rules of the streets in a highlight moment on the project. We can even find an unlikely summer-ready banger in the collaboration with Squeekz on “Late Night”, where Kweng lays a few smooth talking bars before showing his ties to the streets as he raps, ‘Got a shank on me, Even when it’s date night.’ The variation across production keeps the project sounding fresh after multiple listens and also helps to show Kwengface’s versatility as an artist.
This variety is also helped by the featured artists on the tape, who all bring something different to the table that elevates the project as a whole. Dizzee Rascal raps as if he has a point to prove on “One Eye Open”, while the track “Step Out” with Dusty Locane is a stand out moment on the project, as the featured artist gives a performance reminiscent of Pop Smoke at his best. Elsewhere, “Lingo” with 26AR sees Kwengface branch into a more Latin sound, using silky guitar riffs on the beat in order to bring another refreshing element to the record.
French The Kid is having a breakout year in 2022 and his performance on “Guns & Kettles” did not disappoint, with both artists having excellent chemistry on the track. Every collaboration on this project feels as if it was necessary, which all to often isn’t the case and is testament to Kwengface’s ability to make a song, rather than a selection of freestyles.
YPB: The Archive feels as if we are seeing an artist develop into someone who could be a leader in the Drill sound for many years to come. There is no doubting Kwengface’s ability as a rapper, and while he may not have the poetic lyricism of a Dave or a Potter Payper, he possesses his own style that is punchy and maintains a listeners interest. The whole project is also well thought out, as it shows the different strings to Kweng’s bow and allows him to experiment with different sounds away from the one he is most known for. With two exceptional projects dropped in the last year, it seems that Kwengface is only moving towards the very top right now, and YPB: The Archive is another giant step in the right direction.