It would make sense that one of the most “hip-hop”-sounding LPs released this year would come from Scotland – after all, foreign rap tends to cannibalize and re-interpret past American trends in the same post-modern fashion that built the genre on old R&B, disco, rock, and funk breaks. Those same breaks, finessed by a mix of creeping, out-there samples seemingly pulled straight from old “Twilight Zone” episodes, make up the bulk of the production on Respek BA‘s Wasteland of the Free.
That is to say, the album is equal parts weird and funky; providing the groove missing from most of today’s trap and cloud rap, Wasteland of the Free splits the difference between the moodier sounds that soundtrack Respek’s more esoteric and topical raps and the more upbeat, almost throwback cuts serving as the backbone to the record’s emcee-style boasts. Sporting endearingly transparent song titles, the album’s 17 tracks serve as a snapshot of someone looking at their surroundings and themselves; the weed rap of “Ninja Based Funk” makes perfect sense in light of “Pick Your Poison”‘s ruminations on alcohol use and the meditations on existence of “Nothingness” – rather than a shallow concession, its a snapshot of the vices and behaviors within the world Respek critiques. The album’s theme reaches its high point on “Ying Yang”, an increasingly light-hearted mix of the social and psychological themes on the record that closes out the album with a stress-induced jekyll-and-hyde act. The track’s gradual personality change is a tough trick to pull off, giving credence to Respek BA’s skill in the booth – though he’s heavily accented flow isn’t the sharpest or most agile, his ambition makes Wasteland of the Free one of the more entertaining UK rap releases this year.
Wasteland of the Free is currently available for digital purchase. Check below for the album stream via Soundcloud.