In 2018, I’ve discovered many of those who I’ve known for battle rap are actually some of the better musicians. The From The North Wor Kid playlist has been plastered with the likes of Shotty Horroh, Heretic and Briggzy. Add in the likes of Gemin1 and Cee Major making major moves down south, and there’s a serious argument for ending the entire UKBR scene just so these artists can focus on music.
P Solja is the latest in a long line of his peers to pull away from clashing, shortly after releasing his first EP to digital streaming platforms. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the Leeds MC in terms of quality of music. I’m told he’s released several mixtapes in the past, but I hadn’t heard a single sample of Solja’s songs and so admittedly I went into Nah Watch Face EP with low expectations.
Those expectations were quickly raised from the ‘Welcome’ intro. A simple but effective hook laid over Filthy Gears’ soundscape with a start-as-you-mean-to-go-on approach hitting the ground running with the first verse. If you didn’t know anything about P before pressing play, you were given a rough idea with this first track.
There are constant themes throughout the Nah Watch Face EP and one of them is the everyday lifestyle lyrics. Similar to the likes of Jay Z and Stormzy, P Solja drops names of those around him. Matter and Bowski reflecting Hov’s Guru and Tata, and Stormzy’s Flipz.
There’s more weed references to re
efer to and plenty of mention of P’s gangster credentials, and those two particular aspects of hip-hop culture have been done to death. Yet, the Leeds MC manages to maintain a refreshing vibe. Maybe its the different dialect, he doesn’t shy away from using slang that outsiders might not catch. Maybe its the accent. But something about P makes his not completely unique overall subject matter feel more personable.
This isn’t pure hype grime with no substance. While there’s certainly lots of energy and if you’re just listening in the background, you’d be forgiven for misinterpreting the EP as just another generic grime release. Instead its very much tailored to P Solja’s point of view. If the EP were a video game, it’d be a first-person-shooter with the vivid descriptions of unplayable PlayStations easy to visualise with P painting the picture.
The EP’s sole feature comes in the form of S Dog on Levelz. As a follower of battle rap, I can’t escape the feeling that J Short must be pissed that his slogan has been re-appropriated into an absolute banger of a chorus. That’s just the precursor to one of the biggest grime records of 2018.
If you only listen to one track from P Solja and this particular EP, make it Hardest Spitter. The whole EP sits at a strong 7/10 and well worth an ear, but Hardest Spitter surpasses the top of the scale. From the wavey production to the smooth hook every single second is captivating as P bobs and weaves within the beat on the verse with braggadocios brilliance.
Throughout Nah Watch Face, we’re told P has been ‘Cold Since Back In The Day’ and without knowing the exact origin of the reference, its made to feel significant throughout. Any time P raps the bar it elicits a
wheel-up scroll-back on my phone.
That’s not to say the EP is without its faults. Grime MCs get away with empty lyricism way more than their hip-hop counterparts purely because of the hype curated is prioritised over what is actually said. Even if its all about the delivery though, I still cringe at the pronunciation of pirate on Fly On Road. I just don’t understand why ‘pie-rate’ is used, there’s no obvious rhyme scheme its being forced into…just a stylistic choice that doesn’t sit well in my eardrums.
If Nah Watch Face is P Solja’s first official offering to the world, its a good first impression and I definitely want to hear more – and soon. Like with most grime releases, it feels imperative to experience the EP performed live. Its just a shame that tour he’s on with Lunar C isn’t coming to the North East.