Now I may be a little out of my depth here, but after coming across several tracks on Youtube, his spots on BBC Radio 1 Xtra’s Fire in the Booth segment, and subsequent exploration of his mixtapes recently, I’ve become addicted to Mancunian grime artist Bugzy Malone‘s music. Although several themes that he has already explored before feature again on this new EP released just last month, including adapting to the changes that come with success and so-called friends showing their true faces, the stripped back instrumentation and beats compliment Malone‘s growth and help to showcase some of his most aggressive material to date. And once again, he states his aim to ‘put Manchester on the globe’ with his music and this EP does a good job of maintaining that goal with his bars and infectious ‘watch this’ signature.

The EP kicks off with one of the most urgent and hard hitting beats on offer with the incredible title track, and Malone‘s flow presents him as a figure of strong stoicism with a hint of wariness lingering below the surface as he talks about his rise in fame, his doubts about the industry and reservations about money as his life has shifted from crime to music. The contrast he creates by describing his feelings as being a prisoner to his new way of life, stating that ‘they think fame means plenty of money and a glamorous life, but fame is a jail and not everybody in here will survive’, which is a reference to his actual time spent in prison, is particularly poignant. And although his wordplay never reaches into particularly experimental territory as such, it is spots like this that are peppered throughout the run-time of the EP that show his strong ability to present bold images and metaphors to express his feelings in a concise and entertaining way.

Although this title track as well as spots like the single Moving and Gone Clear create a pretty prevalent serious tone for the EP, Malone presents some great hooks and does just enough in the way of shifting up his inflections to show his versatility as an MC. In spite of the hard, bass heavy beat and subject matter of Late Night in the 0161, this is the best example of Malone‘s self-awareness and ability to not take himself too seriously, with great bars about spitting out his mango rubicon when he heard about the money he was making. Or the fantastic bars about his car, saying ‘now I need a bed like Wallace and Gromit, so I can slide out of the window onto the bonnet’, which legitimately had me in a laughing fit for a solid minute when I first heard it. It comes across as simultaneously playful and aggressive in dealing with the diss tracks targeting him, which is pretty impressive, even if the gunshot ad-libs feel a little forced at this stage. On top of this, his singing voice during the hooks on Facing Time and in the strikingly intimate track Beauty and the Beast goes over incredibly smoothly and it hardly seems a coincidence that these hooks were crafted for what are arguably the most personal tracks on the entire project.

Unfortunately the EP loses a bit of steam towards the back end due to the penultimate track Mosh Pit Gang which feels pretty inconsistent amongst the other tracks, operating solely as a turn up anthem of sorts. Now that by itself isn’t an inherently bad thing, but it sticks out like a sore thumb amidst the bass heavy synths and occasional trap influences in the beats that give the other tracks their aggressive grime sound. Maybe I’m just prematurely grumpy at the age of twenty-one and can’t have fun with this track due to my own tastes, but Malone proves in other ways throughout the course of the EP the importance in having fun and stripping back the stifling sincerity from time to time. The only other thing I’d say is I wish there was a little more in the way of variation in the song structures which for the most part stick to the verse-hook-verse-hook formula. Although the most crucial base is covered, and that’s Malone‘s strong bars, some of the abrupt endings, especially on Moving and We Don’t Care, when mixed with the repetitive song structures do make you wish for Malone to be that extra shade of daring in his production, because he definitely has the lyrical talent and MC presence to pull it off.

In spite of this though, Facing Time is a highly enjoyably, direct and hard hitting EP that is a more than worthy addition to Bugzy Malone‘s catalogue and is essential for fans of his previous output, fans of grime or for people who are looking to explore what the UK scene has to offer. Check out one of the singles linked below and be sure to download it here. Support a great artist today.

Favourite tracks: Facing Time, Late Night in the 0161, Moving, Beauty and the Beast

Least favourite tracks: Mosh Pit Gang, We Don’t Care

7/10

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