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