Review: TM – NEGK

Last Monday, with hours to go until the Hip Hop Show I present on Spark Sunderland, TM messaged me. Weeks earlier he had promised at his headlining Young Sceptic Presents that I would get the exclusive premiere of ‘NEGK‘ and it was ready. I quickly rescheduled the show, planning on playing a few select highlights from the mixtape – it’s length being the predominant factor in not playing it in full. After listening through the project however, I rescheduled again dedicating a full hour to what is potentially one of the best Grime tapes of 2016 so far and this week’s Album of the Week.

Armed with an arsenal of massive hooks and a barrage of brilliant production, TM’s mission statement is clear: establishing himself as the alpha male of the North East, and beyond. Whilst I’m not sure ‘NEGK’ is quite enough to dethrone H-Man and Just B – given the hype ‘The Perfect Storm’ evoked – it is definitely a strong effort to throw his name in the hat and cement himself as one of the best the North East has to offer.

There are several stand-out songs from the mixtape that are more than worthy of several rewinds. ‘Brawl‘ remains my favourite, but ‘Don’t Really Wanna Do That‘, ‘Floe‘, ‘Roadman‘ and ‘No Time‘ are all hot on its heels.

The ‘Way Back When‘ collaboration with Gang:GreenzNaughty40 is evidence again of how the rapper-producer is one of the best hook-makers around right now. Following ‘Northern Monkey’, the pair have a flawless record when it comes to collaborations and I’d love to see an EP from the pairing. The collaboration is only over shadowed by the first time we’ve heard a recorded verse from Dano on ‘Boss.’ In truth ‘Way Back When’ is probably the best track on the tape listening to the explicit edition, but doesn’t transcend as well as the other records for radio.  

Prior to the release of ‘NEGK’, TM told social media the follow up will be “a little different and deeper” than usual. I’m not entirely sure how I feel about that. Given this mixtapes strength in evoking hype – which at the end of the day, is what Grime is all about. On the other hand, The Rascals’ ‘Class 90’ EP is one of my favourite 140bpm based projects and that managed to balance emotional resonance with bangers – least of which featuring my favourite ever Big Narstie verse. If TM can take inspiration from that, and merge what he’s proven capable of on ‘NEGK’ with these “deeper than usual” tracks, he could be on the verge of something special. 

Overall, ‘NEGK’ is one of the better Grime tapes 2016 has offered so far. With an abundance of hype hooks really standing out, separating this mixtape from the rest of the weeks releases – making it an easy pick for ‘Album of the Week.’ Given the anthemic nature of ‘NEGK’, I can’t wait til the next opportunity to see TM live. 

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