The British superstar was one of the first to hop on the sliding 808 style beats and establish the rough sound of UK drill music beyond national borders. His new album is his most personal piece of work by far, with a significantly extended audience.
The artist has come a long way since his ‘Drillers & Trappers’ mixtape with Rv in 2017. Headie One, arguably the ‘King of drill’, has constantly found different ways to let his listeners participate in his extraordinary journey throughout the last years.
Irving Adjei dedicates his first real album to Edna Adjei, who died when he was only a child. Through the whole record, the drill star honours the lessons and values he wishes he would have received from her. Most of all, the ability to forgive and not look back.
‘Teach Me’ starts with a strong presence of her absence, reflecting on his youth in Tottenham, London. A time full of hardship, and a father overwhelmed with the task of single parenting a young Irving Adjei and his sister. It’s words like ‘He start to wish he aborted me’, that emphasize the circumstances of his childhood and the dynamics in a family as the young boy went off the the rails.
Headie One is probably the UK’s flagship of drill music, with popular successors like the 67 gang and K-Trap still performing for a very different level of audiences than the solo artist.
Drill music, that has his origins in Chicago and London, has spread to world wide popularity, after Drake hopped on a UK drill beat for his single ‘War’. The Canadian rapper also makes an appearance on Edna, and is arguably one of the reasons this album is going to be considered Headie One’s real breakthrough.
Two major releases in less than 6 months
One, who had spent a 6 month stint in jail prior to releasing his genre-breaking mixtape ‘GANG’ in collaboration with the urgently rising UK producer Fred Again, proves a great sense of diversity and non self-limiting attitude to creativity with his second major release of the year.
Contrary to the effortless, dark and rather distant position drill artists take to music in order to keep in sync with the street image, Headie opens up on ‘Edna‘. 20 tracks filled with all variations of modern R&B elements meeting drill & trap, from heartfelt to feel-good, from real talk to flex. There ’s a handful selected high carat guests on the record, including Drake, Future, grime legend Skepta, as well as UK rap greats Stormzy, Aitch & AJ Tracey. Headie One also involves a range of local female singers in his soulful hooks and sampling.
‘Edna’ is miles away from the experimental spirit that set the tone for his brilliant mixtape ‘GANG’. The record was dominated by the production of Fred Again, who made his work apparent on the first single track of the album. ‘Ain’t it different’ actually hit very different and has reached gold status in the UK and Australia by now.
Headie One, whose flow and style has influenced drill and rap artists way beyond the borders of the UK, once again has released a record, that will inspire many artist to experiment in different directions. A pioneer for some, and one who is currently enjoying the success and spotlight not every trendsetter is blessed to enjoy.