We are thoroughly enjoying the latest work from creative genius Sid Ahmed (you may know him through his music videos with various UK Asian artists). Check out his website for a recent series of comic strips – also known as “Sidoodles” – and marvel.
“Look, I don’t normally do this…” True, Raxstar, but you did give full warning: “Mighta fell off but look at how I bounced back, Fuck it, my next single’s gonna be a house track…” The Luton MC stuck to his word (taken from the “Burban Cyphers“), and the result is a very solid number that doesn’t drop the ball, and provides ample radio fodder. If Rax can manage to string a few more of these together (along with, obviously, “Jaaneman”) and mix them with some great hip hop songs, he could have a genuinely strong album out next year. Surinder Rattan is precisely the kind of producer that he should be working with right now, for whilst Sunit almost always does the job with aplomb, variety is the spice of life, and “Flirt” has a subtle but indelible chorus, a competent house instrumental underpinning it all and an MC on form, delivering some nice punchlines. Of course, as with “Jaaneman” it is all very formulaic, let us not pretend otherwise – but the important thing for Raxstar is to connect with fans, and to do that you need a front-to-back package that functions on every level. That means: music, lyrics, chorus, video, stylists, artwork, promo… Everything to be perfectly synced. To be honest, the whole thing wreaks of Sid Ahmed’s genius at putting an actual campaign together (who knows if that is indeed the case, but these things rarely happen via serendipity alone). Either way, “Flirt” most certainly gets the job done. (Reviewed by Jesal)
Look I don’t normally do this
And before you start making excuses
I can see it in your face that you’re ruthless
I aint said nothing why you throwing up your deuces?
Let me talk to you
The place that you’re going let me walk you to,
I must admit I like a little akhar (attitude),
I don’t want you easy to break like a papadh (poppadom),
You look cute when you has has (laugh),
Twenty for your thoughts like das das (ten / tell me)
I know you aint really in a rush rush,
So just stop for a minute like bas bas, (stop)
Just calm it down,
You know you’d look so good with my arm around you,
She said I’m pagal (crazy) I said I’m playing,
But your eyes are telling me what your mouth aint saying
Akhan naal keghai dil tera sajana
(With her eyes she said I’m yours)
Why you wana take take take and not give give give
I just want to show you how I live live live,
You don’t have to tell them what we did did did,
Everybody wants to know what my business is,
But we could start off with a hanji hello,
she was like naa ji N.O.
LOL that usually never fails,
Still got a soft spot for ghetto girls,
I like them with brains though they got to be smart,
These days some of them are too chalaak (cunning)
Like kuri mere haan di (a girl similar to me),
Please never leave like “Peer Tere Jaan Di” ( “The pain of you leaving”),
You should stay for a while,
Every time I see you its making me smile,
So why you wanna settle for a cash and carry?
We should be a power couple like Ash and Abhi
RKZ has a lot going for him, but there is a risk of having too much of a good thing. It sounds absurd, but he is exactly the personality type that is in danger of becoming a “jack of all trades, master of none” – that’s fine if one wants to be known as a great all-round personality, but it’s different from being a great musical all-rounder. Being an all-rounder means picking one or two aspects of music (e.g. rapping or singing), and excelling at all of the microscopic areas within it – not being merely competent at a variety of different trades (rapping/singing/dancing/directing/DJing/Presenting/writing/poetry/TV/radio). In fairness, RKZ told this very website in a wonderful interview that he is a free spirit, but there comes a time when it would be wise for him to pick a lane – he’s been around for practically 7 years now, and his genuine breakthrough moments tend to come through R&B. And “Are You Down” is further example of a mixed bag: the beat is quite superb, simultaneously banging you over the head whilst also worming into your brain; the chorus is solid; the various flows (in particular the Jay-Z one) are inventive and exciting. Yet, something is missing, a combination of the lyrics and delivery – it’s good, sure, but it’s just not good enough to grab your attention in the way that a Sam Kay or Raxstar can manage (let alone the hundreds of non-Asian rappers out there). It isn’t about trying to change RKZ – it’s about giving him a set of parameters within which he can fully express himself, because right now we are getting 65% of a variety of things, whereas we should be getting 100% of one. (Reviewed by Rahul)
Check his “Power Trippin'” EP out here.
Whilst we are wary of judging “The Other Man” too quickly (“Jaaneman” took a while to grow into the classic that it is), we feel more confident in airing our disappointment with the new effort from Raxstar. On a basic level, any modern song must function on certain levels: the beat, chorus, lyrics. Sometimes, a bit of magic can confuse the issue and mask certain qualities, but everything is lacking here. The instrumental from Sunit is solid enough, but it doesn’t mesh well with the RKZ chorus (which is decent but doesn’t carry the song forward). We’ve received truckloads of hate mail for criticising him on a couple of more recent efforts, but Raxstar’s poor flow really sounds out-of-sync. Where “Jaaneman” was wonderfully focussed, with the Luton MC completely locked on, this genuinely sounds rushed and half-baked (even the mixing/mastering sounds off). That won’t stop girls from hearting it (or guys from being hypnotised by the stunning Emma Singh in the video) but it’s definitely a below-par follow up.
It’s so frustrating. Strikey seems to have everything in place. The finance to put his money where his mouth is; an excellent ear for music (seriously); solid choruses; watchable videos… It’s all there. Except for the natural ability to rap. That in itself shouldn’t bring the proceedings to a grinding halt – there are many average rappers out there, not to mention some god awful ones, that continually get their shine. What’s the difference between them and Strikey? Strikey just never seems to improve. He can barely string a couplet together; his voice is inconsistent; his flow doesn’t. He’s raps as though the Sugarhill Gang have just released “Rapper’s Delight.” Frankly, it’s unacceptable, but here on “Average Londoner” it’s even worse – because the beat is superb, the hook/concept is incredibly clever and the video is excellent. Even the remix that kicks in at the end sounds hot. So, in other words, this is a case where Strikey literally lets himself down. A damn shame.
Thanks to the video, it’s quite hard to tell what the new RKZ joint “Gonna Be That” is actually like. Firstly, it edits out the swear words, and there is a lot of swearing. Secondly, although it is quite funny and creative, the visuals are somewhat self-indulgent – the “Jaaneman” part feels like it goes on forever – and thus, unfortunately, the rhythm of the song is entirely truncated. Three times, in fact. Of course, the video has nothing to do with the score you see above – it’s just that it takes a lot of concentration to get the feel of what the song is supposed to be like. ADP provides a pretty hot dubstep beat, with clattering synths bouncing off one another like patients in a padded cell (bizarrely enough, however, we almost prefer the beat at the very beginning); RKZ deliberately delivers a completely OTT braggadocio chorus, with an impressive rat-a-tat flow switching lanes with a more Rick Ross-baiting one. In the third verse, he states that he’s the “greatest” but on Twitter, he inserted numerous caveats into the statement: why? Sure, for political reasons, it’s understandable, but believing you’re the “best” in the rap game is part of the fun, and he shouldn’t feel the need to downplay his own achievements (plus everybody takes what MC’s say with a pinch of salt, anyway). All things considered, it’s not a truly stellar moment but another incredibly measured move that keeps RKZ’s star in ascendency.