UK rapper Ghetts is a veteran of the scene, and it's about time that he got his flowers. He's been around the UK scene since 2003, but on Conflict Of Interest, it feels like we learn more about both Ghetts the musician and person than ever before.
Conflict Of Interest features a who's who of English music, including Skepta, Emeli Sandé, Ed Sheeran, Stormzy, Pa Salieu and more, but he's never outshined on the album. In many ways, each of these artists serve to further highlight the respect Ghetts' peers have for him. We've taken a track-by-track look at Conflict Of Interest so you can get a deeper understanding of why this is Ghetts' most personal album yet.
Fine Wine, the opening track of Conflict Of Interest, feels like a recognition from Ghetts that he is currently at the peak of his powers. He sounds assured, hungry and ready to finally receive the praise that he's been chasing his whole career.
"Aged like fine wine" is a popular idiom, and here, Ghetts proves that it's an apt description of his career. He describes his modest upbringing, and it serves as a juxtaposition to his current situation. Ghetts has seen and done a lot, and he's opening up about it more than ever before. Ghetts is feeling reflective, and he's here to lay out his past, present and future for listeners.
Mozambique (feat. Jaykae & Moonchild Sanelly)
Ghetts jumps on a track with Jaykae and South African Moonchild Sanelly, with Moonchild providing the hook. The track's most significant moment, and biggest contribution to the album's narrative, comes at the start, where Ghetts asks "what would I have told myself 10 years ago?"
Moonchild's first lyrics on the track are "Umnqundu wamapolisa sana Ndithe umnqundu wamapolisa", which when translated from Xhosa read "Police are arsheholes/I repeat police are arseholes." Mozambique is a track that sees Ghetts talking about the crime he's been around in the past. After all, he's not going to shed his roots - and this is a nod to his origin story.
Fire and Brimstone
Ghetts keeps things low-key on Fire and Brimstone. Ghetts sounds pensive on the track, which is a bit surprising given the track's title. He doesn't need to be blasting enemies or flexing the whole time though, because his reputation and standing precede him. There's something haunting about Fire and Brimstone.
If you're at the end of a big night, you can wind down with Hop Out. Ghetts spits over a rattling beat, and it feels like for a moment he's bottling up the fury. That might be because he's saving it for the next couple of tracks, both of which see him letting fly.
IC3 (feat. Skepta)
Skepta and Ghetts are both UK music legends, but in the eyes of the police, they're targets because of their Black skin. IC3 is police-speak for identifying a Black person, and this track is an anti-police anthem, because they're opening up about the racism they've experienced at the hands of law enforcement.
It's one of the most powerful moments on the record, especially because it's the first time that Ghetts and Skepta have jumped on a track together. It feels like a real moment in UK rap, so take notice.
If you've ever wanted to learn the story of Ghetts, then he's got you covered. As the nearly seven-minute epic Autobiography unfolds, you'll learn about Ghetts' origins in the grime scene, before ending up where he is today.
Ghetts has been around for nearly 20 years, so there's a lot of history in his past. Autobiography is a way for Ghetts to reclaim his narrative, because as he says, "if you don't tell your story, they gonna tell it for you."
Good Hearts (feat. Aida Lae)
One of the more radio-friendly tracks on the album, you'll find yourself bopping along to Good Hearts. It takes influence from UK garage, and featured vocals from Sweden's Aida Lae. If you're on the way to the club, or driving around late at night, this is a track you'll bop along to.
Dead To Me
Dead To Me is about a relationship breaking down, and how sometimes, you can't go back to what was there before. You can hear the pain in Ghetts' voice, but he's also used it as a learning opportunity. His love has moved on, and he's battling with that - but ultimately, he's going to be OK.
10,000 Tears (feat. Ed Sheeran)
Ed Sheeran has always been a supporter of UK grime, so it's not too much of a surprise to hear him working with Ghetts. 10,000 Tears is a good introduction to Ghetts' music for those that might not be huge grime/rap fans, and Ed's vocals sound great.
Ghetts is in his singing lane, and it's a different side to much of the rest of the album - Conflict Of Interest is a great illustration of his versatility, and his ability to stay up-to-date with the trends of today's music, while also staying true to his roots.
Sonya (feat. Emeli Sande)
The saxophone sample on this track hits hard, as Ghetts raps over a piano-based beat. Emeli Sandé's vocals make this one of the smoothest cuts on the album, and it feels like velvet in your ears. Ghetts is able to access the anger and fire that we see at points on this album, but he doesn't need to be that person 24/7. Instead, he's happy to keep things chill.
Family means a lot to Ghetts, and he's not afraid to talk about his beginnings. Raised by his mother, times were tough, but it taught him survival skills. Those are skills that have gotten him to where he is today.
It's a shoutout to his mum for being there for him, and a reminder that he's been able to make it. Ghetts raps, "I've replaced that 'ex' with an 'i'" - he's gone from an ex-con to an icon.
Skengman (feat. Stormzy)
Stormzy and Chip are both UK grime stars, and they're also feuding. Skengman touches on their beef, while both Ghetts and Stormzy talk about life running the streets.
Stormzy (aka Wicked Skengman) and Stormzy both bring their hardest bars for the track, and it's a glimpse of the fire that Ghetts has in his belly. It's a testament to his talent that he can access that ferocity when he needs it.
No Mercy (feat. Pa Salieu and Backroad Gee)
No Mercy feels like a bridging of generations. Pa Salieu is one of the hottest new names in the UK scene, while Ghetts has been around for nearly two decades. One thing is clear - neither of them are going to show any mercy to those who cross their paths.
Crud (feat. Giggs)
Like Ghetts, Giggs has been around for a long, long while. Crud is proof that two veterans of the UK scene can still go bar-for-bar with anyone that's on the rise now, and they have experience that can't be faked. Sit back, and listen to the confidence in both their voices. That only comes with time.
Squeeze (feat. Miraa May)
Squeeze features Algerian-born, Tottenham-based Miraa May, and it's a track that feels like it's perfect for the dead of night. The ominous beat, as well as the haunting backing vocals will set your hair on edge, while Miraa warns listeners to "be careful".
Little Bo Peep (feat. Dave, Hamzaa and Wretch 32)
Little Bo Peep is a six-minute mic drop. Featuring Dave, Hamzaa and Wretch 32, Ghetts gets into the nitty-gritty of life on the track. Maybe in another universe he'd end the album with a bang, rather than with a track that feels more like therapy than a celebration. However, it also is the perfect way to end Conflict Of Interest.
Ghetts has made a statement with Conflict Of Interest. What other artists sound like they're only getting better, almost 20 years in? You'll struggle to find examples. Ghetts has put together an album that represents his past, present and future, and it's set to be a very important album for UK music in 2021.