AJ Tracey AJ Tracey Self-released
A standout figure among the next-gen grime kids of 2015, AJ Tracey has taken plenty of time to deliver his debut full-length album. While contemporaries rushed and clamoured for time in the spotlight, AJ took a step back, surveyed the landscape and planned ahead. He knew the grime bubble would eventually burst.
That’s not to say his self-titled LP is short on grime flavour – Tracey is still one of the UK’s best young barrers, but it does manoeuvre around notions of genre with calculated fluidity. From summery Top 20 hit Butterflies and the woozy, SoundCloud rap lean of Psych Out, to the oddball acoustic guitar twang of Country Star and the bubbling, throwback UKG of Ladbroke Grove, he ticks boxes that other grime MCs wouldn’t.
But it’s not versatility that makes this record such an emphatic one, it’s AJ’s clinical ear for melodies, samples and hooks, and the components of a song that make you want to return to it. While it’s sure to piss off a few day ones, you can’t help but applaud AJ’s ambition.