Loyle Carner – Yesterday’s Gone review

Loyle Carn­er is a mav­er­ick with a mas­ter plan. This south Lon­don rap­per has opened shows for Nas, Joey Badass, MF Doom, and sup­port­ed Kate Tem­pest. Yesterday’s Gone, the debut album from the 20-some­thing MC, is a sub­lime ode to fam­i­ly, friends and the soul­ful hip hop of the 80s and 90s.

Carn­er reels you in with his but­ter-smooth cadence. He deft­ly points out the hard­ships and hypocrisy of urban life on a song such as ‘Ain’t Noth­ing Changed’, as he raps about the temp­ta­tion of mate­ri­al­ism and drugs, and oth­ers falling for them around him (“This inner-city respon­si­bil­i­ty is killing me”). Away from the strug­gles of the out­side world, Carner’s vers­es about his love for his fam­i­ly (‘Flo­rence (feat. Kwes)’) and close friends (‘No CD (feat. Rebel Kleff)’) have strong appeal.

The input of Carner’s clos­est musi­cal friend, Rebel Kleff, cer­tain­ly plays a huge part in the album. Kleff, him­self a rap­per, pro­duced the major­i­ty of the root­sy, jazz blends – rem­i­nis­cent of Mos Def, The Phar­cdye and MF Doom – that make up the songs on the album. He is the Chad Hugo to Carner’s Phar­rell Williams. It’s because of this friend­ship that we have a song like ‘No Wor­ries (feat. Rebel Kleff & Jehst)’, four-and-a-half min­utes of soul­ful loops and rap real­ness to res­cue you from men­tal anx­i­ety. There’s more to enjoy from this young MC, from con­fes­sion­al vers­es to inti­mate inter­ludes. This feels like an album done on Carner’s terms. Yesterday’s Gone is an exu­ber­ant, flavour­some triumph.


Yesterday’s Gone is out now, on AMF/Virgin EMI Records.

If you like this artist, check out: Fur; The Phar­cyde

Image: Jack Davison