Raxstar – “Ego”

Burban, Hindi, Hip Hop, Panjabi, Rap, UK, UK Asian

Score: 7.6

We’re a bit depressed here at SuperCritic. You see, we were waiting until today to post this – which is Raxstar’s birthday – and expected to see a slew of “Ego” reviews around the rest of the internet. Much to our consternation, this was absolutely not the case and, yes, we had a bit of a Twitter rant about it. Why are so few other music critics and writers actually posting reviews of music from the kind of artists we cover on this site? Really, you can count them on one hand (more on this another day). It turns out that the birthday boy’s latest number is certainly worth highlighting, and also writing about. It’s full of hip hop quotables laid over a menacing trap beat (courtesy of Sunit); the combination of the final verse with the accompanying visuals is something special to behold (ONE TAKE). It takes practically a minute for Rax to even get going (this may well be the opening salvo of his album) and there are plenty of excellent couplets on this ‘controlled aggression’ brag-fest. The only qualm we have is the occasional example of (minutely) off-beat delivery. It’s interesting, as Eminem was recently talking about how his first two major albums – “The Slim Shady LP” and “The Marshall Mathers LP” no less – still irk him to this day, simply because he now believes that his delivery wasn’t crisp enough: he was too frequently “playing catch up” to the beat. That’s always been a wild variable of Raxstar’s – it’s something that most fans probably wouldn’t even notice, but hip hop heads can identify immediately. Putting that aside, “Ego” is another solid statement of intent from the Luton MC. After all, a bit of ego never hurt anybody. (Reviewed by Jesal)

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Raxstar – “Cold World”

Burban, Hip Hop, Rap, UK, UK Asian

Score: 7.1

(In place of the traditional review, here are alternative lyrics that may or may not have been hacked from Raxstar’s BlackBerry…)

RAXSTAR:

It’s a Cold World like a Twister

Listen up, I’m the sickest barista

Fast-paced or slow, the Scarface of flows

But my chocolate sprinkles are heart-shaped for sho’

My jeans skinny like latte and though

We used to French on park bench til I stole your trench coat

I kept telling myself: “Rax, look slow”

But your eyes transfixed on a MacBook Pro

My service is cardiothorassic

I cut hearts into napkins, and certain other fabrics

Understand though, my story is hard luck

I’mma work night and day in this Starbucks

Until I can own shares and then refuse to pay tax

And then, baby girl, what will you say to Rax?

You dropping your pencil, making me get it

Staring at my arse, honestly it’s pathetic

Baby if you want me, you gotta show me love

Words are so easy to say, you gotta show me love

I’m out the door, you chase me, and I know that look

“When I went to the ladies, did you steal my MacBook?”

 

CHORUS x4

Next time, girl, leave a tip – at least 10% or I’ll have to steal your shit

Next time baby girl please leave a tip – it’s a Cold World, I will steal your shit

 

Raxstar – “The Other Man” (Featuring RKZ)

Hip Hop, Pop, R&B, Rap, UK Asian

Score: 5.3

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.

Kee – “Jaaneman – Part 2” (Featuring Raxstar)

Hindi, Hip Hop, Pop, R&B, Rap, Remix, Soul, UK Asian

Score: 7.2

There are so many interesting openings into “Jaaneman – Part 2” that it seems almost perverse to start with someone who has nothing to do with it at all. Yet aside from the witty freestyles and Twitter rants (although he’s sadly currently in self-imposed “#TwitterJail” right now), it’s easy to forget that Jesal is also a pretty great DJ. His “UK Asian Mixtape Volume I” (http://soundcloud.com/jesaltv/jesal-uk-asian-mixtape-1) was an unselfish attempt to shine a light on his peers, and – tellingly – he opened up with Raxstar’s original version of “Jaaneman” but stopped it after a verse, reloaded, and perfectly mixed it with the instrumental of “My Love” by Justin Timberlake. Suddenly it all made sense: the BPM and sequencing was identical (we obsessively checked ourselves). Clearly, someone else in the Raine Records camp cottoned on to a potential vocal number as well, and persuaded Sunit/Raxstar to rubber-stamp this version, driven by Kee (who subtly transformed the original). Despite sounding essentially the same, it has an almost entirely different feel: for one, it’s longer, allowing more breathing space for Sunit’s instrumental; but it’s also, well, longer, which unfortunately dilutes that excellent chorus a touch too much. The sequel is even more melodramatic, and this time Raxstar returns the favour of balancing out the tone with a well-written verse, sure, but truly totemic delivery (he really is on fire right now, with a quiet authority leaving him peerless). Whilst “Part 2” could have been a touch better/tighter (the pre-chorus in particular weighs the song down at times) this, even more than the original, is a song that demands you listen with feeling, not thought.

Raxstar – “Name On The Poster”

Bashment, Hip Hop, Pop, R&B, Rap, UK Asian

Score: 5.1

It’s alright to try different things. It’s even ok for more thoughtful rappers to use Auto Tune. However, you’ve got to do it well, and it should make sense. Almost nothing here on “Name On The Poster” feels right, and subsequently whilst it attempts to come across as a fun summer ditty, it falls flat. Even Raxstar’s lyrics aren’t on point (which is a genuine rarity) and whilst the video is fun, the music, chorus, rhymes and vocal effects all contribute to make this a forgettable track. Independent observers would look at a track like this and know instantly why there are still so few recommendable Asian MC’s, so Raxstar needs to plot his next move carefully.