The consumption of music has changed drastically over the last decade. Streaming services in particular have had a huge impact on how we consume music. We now have a wealth of music available at our fingertips, although it certainly means we’re more likely to explore genres outside our musical comfort zone, it has also made the music a lot more disposable than it used to be.
Ten years ago, you’d go to HMV pick up a copy of an album you’ve been waiting for and you’d literally have it on repeat for weeks, sometimes even months, you’d really take the time to digest every beat and every bar. Now with new music so readily available, you might give the album a couple of play-throughs before you move onto the next project that’s just been released. Has our attention span got shorter? Or are we just so spoilt for choice that we can’t dedicate the time to the music like we used to? Arguably the audience are as much to blame for the proliferation of bubblegum rap as the artists that make it are. The artists and labels are well aware of seismic shifts in music consumption, so consequently they produce music that’s in line with these shifts.
One of the most noticeable changes can be found in the lyricism, or the lack of. The genre was once a bountiful place, awash with modern day wordsmiths with Shakespearean vocabularies. Due to the increasingly short shelf life of music, more emphasis has been placed on catchy hooks and the intricate, meaningful lyricism has gradually been phased out. Despite these drastic changes, there are precious few artists that remain true to the old ways.
Wretch 32 is undoubtedly amongst the last of a dying breed, whose well-crafted verses will force you to replay his tracks dozens of times in order to truly appreciate the penmanship.
Now you might say that there’s a time and place for both styles. The catchy hooks are exactly what you wanna hear when you’re raving, you’re not going to be in the right state of mind for the complex multisyllabic rhyme schemes on a Friday night in Fabric are you? However, artists like Wretch have proven time and time again that intelligent lyricism can be interwoven into infectious club bangers; they need not be two entirely separate worlds. As an audience, it is then up to us to continue to support and champion the lyrical wizardry or we’re likely to bear witness to a series of untimely disappearing acts.
In the spirit of this, and in celebration of the announcement of Wretch 32’s forthcoming EP Little Big Man, we’ve complied an eclectic mix of 11 tracks that we feel best captures his brilliance. Let us know your faves on the socials!