The Mixtape:: Wretch 32 & Avelino “Young Fire Old Flame”
First came the epic fire in the booth with Charlie Sloth, from that moment you just felt that undeniable chemistry.
So a few months on from the December release date I’ve come with my review of this street classic.
Track one ‘Young Fire Old Flame’ Sees Wretch coming out the box swinging hard. It’s great to hear the man showing such strength and maturity, speaking on matters of race which affect people of colour the world over. In one of first lines he spits:
‘I remember feds put me in a grapple in my teens, I was saying that I couldn’t breathe’. In a clear reference to the Eric Garner tragedy in America.
Not to be outdone though Avelino is one of those metaphorical geniuses who makes you go back and check the gems he’s just dispersed. Young flame burns bright with lines that are so visual there almost physical
‘I’ll kill myself to give you life, you taught me to have bottle now I give you wine’.
‘We wake up, bag it, sell it on the street, fiends love a hit so we keep it on repeat’
Is the Wretch delivered hook with additional vocals from Bobii Lewis on track number two ‘Nothing Will’. You get this soulful backdrop that transports you through a slice of daily minutia as we ride alongside the two as they calmly give you a dose of some of the finest crack music the UK has to offer. Again we are blessed with Wretches best as he goes in with quips like ‘Dressed in diesel, I can douse em though, we speaking for the people we unaccountable’
Young Av refuses to be outgunned as he bursts into his verse with a sharp and compact delivery with ‘Mum said I had a mouth of fire, now look at me now young fire, Next up according to the ones prior’.
The kid’s delivery is just effortless like he was born to do this. Featuring rapper Super Nero who does himself justice and puts himself out there for a retweet at the least.
The production from KZ is nothing short of miraculous and has more than a resemblance to a classic Dr Dre beat. Bobbi Lewis set the tone with searing vocals which grab you immediately he manages to fit references from smoking weed to police shooting to listening to Sade fit well within a hook with melodic magnetism. ‘Crucify’ is one of those moments of musical excellence. Midway through Wretch’s first verse that filled with gems this line stood out to me
‘I grew up in the scene where they don’t want a chart-topper,
They want to see us clash and kill each other,
ahh Should I scream?
Or should I Martin Luther King and have a dream?’
The image captured in those lines tells you where we are as a genre in terms of unity and love for the star from the hood. Wretch looks beyond the small mindedness to Martin Luther King and have a dream.
Alright I’m gassing but I honestly haven’t heard a better song this year. Avelino turns up right on time with oozing confidence, finishing off his verse in a sing songy mode without playing softball
‘Never listened to what my mama said
She said our father’s prayer now my father’s dead
If what goes around comes around, when does karma end?
I’m so close to taking shit too far again’
Av is in pure reflection mode as he gives us a snapshot of how he was at times as youth. He also deals that old chestnut called karma. It can be a hell of a thing. This track will still be on fire come summer I’m sure.
Strangely named ‘Hulk Hogan’ is fuelled in sexual innuendos as the hook goes:
Buss the pussy open for a dolphin Let me swim into your ocean Free Willy for a momen You ain’t got a choice, you was chosen
Produced by Wizzy Wow this has that kick back rap about her snatch type personality. It’s definitely different in tone to the tracks previous but that’s what it’s about the fellas just being geezers, man dem and just having fun with it. Not exactly memorable but it’s fun none the less.
‘The 15th’ brings two big boys to the table in the form of Nigerian vocalist Moelogo and South Londons very own Sneakbo. This is sounds like something that was created in such an organic setting as everybody just sounds so natural and blessed. Moelogo beautifully describes missing Lagos and wanting to come home. His smooth delivery is complemented by Wretch as midway through his verse he drops jewels like:
Sneakbo fits this track gloriously with his eloquent street wit and forceful personality as he raps:
I don’t wanna go home, I’ve been out here doing my thing
Being broke is a joke, I’ve been getting it in
No sleep keep going till they crown me king
For my bros that are dead and the ones on the wing
Yea man this man is grand and you just feel the street love in his first few lines.
Again Avelino is just easy with it as he breathes more life on this cultural jamboree of a joint with lines like:
I love it and she knows it
I get sick of home leave then I’m getting homesick, oh
Clap for my whole click
We’re just cutthroat man I didn’t cut focus
Yea man this is another epic moment in British music are you friggin kidding me that the Brit awards folk don’t take notice of musical magic like this….SMH.
‘Issues’ takes us back to the elements that made Wretch who he is as he gives us a reality check over a KZ produced cold water no heating beat. Meaning raw gutter like as far as I’m concerned. Wretch tells it how it is as he goes:
Little sister saying fuck it
My little brudda saying fuck it
They’d rather leave their fate in front of judges
Didn’t I teach you how to be the next stunners?
Didn’t I teach you how to kill the whole summer?
Clearly illustrating how he has set the standard for his family to follow and perhaps they aren’t taking heed. I don’t know Wretch’s family background but its interesting point he’s raising. Issues indeed.
Loick Essien who is relatively new to me makes an impression and reminds me a bit of a young Donnell Jones as he sings:
None of these niggas are on my level
I’m tryna find the Roley with the presidental bezel
This is my come-up, this is my come-up
Keep it so dungeon, oh, I am so London
Hurricane Hunt doesn’t let the team down as he displays real spirit and vigour a few lines that describe his grind:
In the 15 with me and my bros
Top down in the winter, too grown
Move rocks, got bands, that’s a rolling stone
True say, man have always been about, I don’t ever stop
The gyal you running down, type of gyal I be sending shop
‘GMO’ produced by Rascal & Chris Loco is heavily R’n’B influenced and is splashed with Michael Jackson vocals in the background. This is grown up stuff as the boy’s show they are real men on this. Wretch hits emotional chords as he chimes this within his first lines:
ew flow, ayy, yeah Baby Skye, come and give your dad a dance
Cuh you love me for my future, not my shattered past
And you trust me with your future, I’m a man at last
So if I ever break a promise or it seems that I’m dishonest
You can clap me in the forest in your camouflage
Equally emotionally charged is Avelino as he displays a deeper level of humanity as he raps:
Avelino is beautifully introspective as you really get a sense of his angst during his verse.
I’m so pleased that Youngs Teflon appears on this one as he’s one the best rappers out period. This guy’s keeps it mad real always. His versus are so visual and he fits this one like glove. Below is a snapshot of his lyrics
‘Echoes’ features regular contributor on this project Bobii Lewis and newcomer Jada. She certainly adds a depth of beauty to this slow moving atmospheric piece. KZ weaves the chords for this production as the two soul singers combine to set the scene for the main players to play hard as Wretch kicks it with:
I really like how they take on a dream like journey with this one. This is what you call creativity.
‘Marathon Man’ brings one the hottest rappers in the UK currently in the form of Youngen. The name speaks for itself as the lads talk with clarity about their hussle and flow and how much they’ve grown. They are complemented by a Ghanian great in the form of Fuse ODG he truly is a ladies man as he describes how he keeps his women onside. This is definitely a club banger.
‘Gift To You’ produced by Produced By: Pr02 Jay , Mokeyzz & Mikey Muzik is a thought provoking number that Moelogo features on. This is a one you can kick back and something too. As wretch blesses us with introspective lines like:
Av shows there’s no time like the present as he a few lines in he shows his lyrical dexterity with truly bonkers word play that’s will get you wheeling it back again selector B:
Live a little cause I’m used to living little
A bit of drive, come, we skid a little
Scrabble with the words, didn’t even scribble
Couple girls that swing both ways and I’m in the middle
Damn this young fella is nice with his versus!! Lord jesus praise this young disciple of the authentic sound with one of your many crowns.
‘Dear Summer’ produced by Mikey Muzik & Mokeyzz and featuring vocals from Bobii Lewis. I like the way they don’t mess about with the vocal contributors on this album as it adds genuine authenticity and continuity. Might need the tissues for this one as it pulls at your heart strings immediately with Bobii’s vocals:
Pray that luck is on my side
Cause if all we have is life
How many friends should I lose
Before I find my worth now?
Pray that luck is on my side
Summer, don’t take more lives
By the time Wretch comes in I’m all ears as he puts his heart through the microphone with lines like:
I buried three people, I’ve been breaking down soil
I’ve seen a bunch of flowers laid around for you
Little brother Lukey even got pronounced for you
Held his brudda in my arms, I could feel his blood boil
Had to comfort him, thinking summer done come for him I was saying “our father”, he’s got his mum with him
Hard to be the rock when our whole ends crumbling
Don’t know what’s worse, all this death or the struggling
Young Av does not mess about as he shows he is not afraid to show the depths of his feeling also as he puts it like:
Praying till my knees hurt, teamwork was meant to make the dream work
I saw Tottenham in pieces, ‘rest in peace’ T-shirts
How’d you end up going before me when you put me first?
Never saw this coming, if I did, it must’ve been blurred
Both Wretch and Avelino finish off this song by going back to back vocally which is a truly beautiful thing considering both are rappers. You can’t put these two talents in a box it’s bigger than that.
‘Dry Cry’ is an acoustic flavoured effort that’s produced by KZ and features the throaty vocals of Stacy Barthe. This one really works as the guitarist works as an additional vocalist alongside Stacy. Emotionally engaging I would categorise this as Wretch goes in first with lines like:
Probably clipped my wings every time I tried to fly through
Probably got a scar every time I saw a rival, the game’s suicidal
We were in our teens, moving like children
Tryna fight the grown-ups, mirroring our olders
Shame they didn’t teach us how to be shop owners
Again Avelino does not disappoint as he gives one of best follow up versus you could wish to expect: