As a rule most rap albums tend to feature a whole load of ‘feat’s in their track-listing, with the guest MC/singer slot a long established archetype of the genre. Loyle Carner’s debut album features a few feats as-well (not least soul-man Kwes) but the most telling is final track ‘Sun of Jean – Feat Mum & Dad’, reflective of the close-to-home themes that permeate much of this album.
After a string of EPs and hugely well received videos (often self-directed) Loyle Carner, the alias of 22 year old Croydon MC Benjamin Coyle-Larner (see what he did there) is all set to be the next big name in UK rap. His is an effortless, likeable, laid-back lyrical flow, a million miles from the aggressive world of grime, yet no less powerful. His soul-baring tales of family life paint him as a decent young man with a gift-of-the-gab charm as he rhymes about family life, young love and fear, his biological father who abandoned him, even about making pancakes for an imagined little sister. There’s an intimacy and homeliness that could, in a lesser talents hands come across as mawkish, but Carner is a deft wordsmith and fine MC. The jazzy, East Coast inspired beats are perfect mid-tempo head-nodders that allow Carner’s lyrical prowess to come to the fore, long-time friend and collaborator Rebel Kleff dropping in some classy samples (particularly the gospel choir on ‘Man of Arran’) in his distinctly old skool production.
For all it’s humbleness there’s the sense that the sky is the limit for this talented young man, his debut is a breath of fresh air in the often posturing, violent world of hip hop and simply by being himself Loyle Carner could well become a role-model figure to be applauded.