In a scene dominated by rappers, Naughty40 is one of the better known producers in the North East of England. Although he does rap occasionally too, he’s more comfortable sculpting soundscapes for others. His recent mixtape release ‘Chicken Shops & Tequila Shots’ acts could be looked back on as a musical time capsule. The featured artists are by and large the most prominent names currently popping in North East hip-hop – and their individual skill is evident on Naughty40’s production.
I’m willing to hold my hands up. When it comes to rap music, and music generally, I’m much more concerned by lyrics than beats. I listen to music to connect with a message, rather than vibe to the sound. That doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate a good beat, but in terms of this mixtape, it’d be unfair of me to try and critique Naughty40 based on my limited knowledge of the intricacies of producing instrumentals – particularly as it isn’t a beat-tape. Instead, what interests me is the finished product. How come Naughty40 has basically produced most of the biggest tracks the North East scene has had in recent memory?
I don’t think its a coincidence that the same producer created Jister’s ‘Shoot Em Down’ and Reali-T’s ‘Don’t Chat.’ Two stellar songs, respectively up their with the best of either artists’ career’s. I have been told in the past that Naughty40 does not just create beats, and sends them to a load of artists. Instead each beat is produced specifically for a certain MC. It makes sense, considering how each artist sounds at home spitting over the North East producers backdrops.
Whether its 90BRO’s imploration of “NNE forgot what we started” on ‘Deep Shadows’ also featuring Sutherland or Leddie MC spitting venomously on ‘Overrated.’ Not forgetting Just B being Just B and duppying the two tracks he features on in ‘Way To Gan’ and ‘Limitless.’ Whilst it might be an older track released years ago as a single, I do love ‘The Conversation”s placement on this mixtape, if only because Raza is one of the most underrated MCs from the North East and I desperately need to hear new music from the New North East rapper. Whilst Gang:Greenz seems to be finished, two-thirds of the artists, Naughty & Fungi should definitely still make music. ‘Super Sonic’ is the stand-out track on ‘Chicken Shops & Tequila Shots.’
‘Chicken Shops & Tequila Shots’ isn’t without its Naughty40 bars though. The producer-rapper bookends the mixtape with ’40 Bars’ and his pre-empted ‘King Of The North’ response ‘Treason.’ My personal highlight from Naughty40 however his verse on the Just B assisted ‘Limitless.’ Naughty’s unique style of delivery with his gruff accent rapping “North East accent not a Geordie one’ is a bar that reverberates in my head for hours whenever I think of it.
In 2017, producers and beat-makers are becoming more and more indistinguishable. In this case, its clear that as good as Naughty40 is as a beat-make, he’s so much more than that too. The individual tracks on ‘Chicken Shops & Tequila Shots’ have been some of the biggest releases in the North East in recent months. Naughty40 might be the North East’s answer to DJ Khaled. He’s bringing the best out the individuals he works with. With the producer already stating on social media that he was looking for new artists to work with on the next release, it’ll be interesting to see if he could achieve similar results with other acts.
If ‘Chicken Shops & Tequila Shots’ is a sign of the biggest artists in the North East right now, maybe the follow up will signify who’s going to be leading the next generation.