There have been a whole load of fantastic artists to come out of Yorkshire, from bands like The Beautiful South and the Arctic Monkeys to performers like Tony Christie. Never before however, have I heard a rapper who hails from the great city of York, until now. The latest hip hop experimentalist to emerge from the underground rap scene, Frid released his debut EP, a nine-track effort, upon the public earlier this month. An introspective and passion-fuelled lyrical conquest, Frid has created with 'Serving Time' some incredibly strong foundations, solid in their resolve and yet itching to support what is sure to be a fantastic musical career. We're dealt the perfect amount of experimentation, matched with inspiring production and Frid's mesmerising northern accent. It's the basis for an underground hip hop release set to blow all opposition this year out of the water. Autobiographical in part, it is wondrously easy to fall into Frid's groove, laden with humour, humanity and lyricism that you can truly connect to. Opening with the 'Terms and Conditions' of the EP, a disclaimer of sorts, you get that sense of tingling anticipation run down your spine. A cinematic, anthemic build backs an echoey, nostalgic muse, deep and thoughtful in tone. It highlights Frid's accent, and goes on to deter those easily offended from the content within. By now I was suitably intrigued, and as the next track began, I that knew there was no going back!
Said number, 'Set it Off', is carried by a confident beat, dusted in aged crackle and an ominous, hold-no-prisoners attitude. The vocals explode onto the scene, and just in case you missed that initial warning, Frid's statement that "Playtime's over forever" reinstates it. It's an awesome track, and one that paves the way for the rest of the record. 'Learning the Trade' follows, and focuses on Frid's strong ideas regarding modern, mainstream hip hop. He acknowledges his underground status with lines such as "Why should I be shy of dying / I'm already underground", and as such expresses an annoyance with popular artists who should "start putting a bit of work in". It's an indignation that I share, so it's satisfying to hear someone comment on the issue with such passion and talent for words. Mary Jayne, with her beautiful rendition of 'Feeling Good', features on the next track 'How I Feel', her flawless, flowing vocals contrasting with Frid's sharp and hard-hitting mic work. The fifth number on the EP is definitely one of my favourites, because Frid's no-nonsense lyricism and songwriting skill really come to a peak. Homer Simpson, the Joker and Kurt Cobain are just some of the popular culture references that pop up, introduced by one terrifying sample and gangster-esque melody. Track six follows, with guest vocals from the amazing Afrika Fuentes. At first, the softer, inspirational tone didn't click with me, especially after all the tough aesthetic we were given previously, but after a while it grew on me. A short but somewhat hypnotic interlude leads into 'Dear Daddy', a quietly saddening, yearning five minutes. Backed by the rain shower that hung over Frid's fatherless childhood, a stunning hook and powerful lyrics make it my personal favourite, just as the EP draws to a finish.
'Serving Time' closes with the title track, a song backed by a bewitchingly despondent piano melody and captivating guest vocals from Ellsie. From the hard ethos portrayed at the beginning of the EP, that sharp edge has slowly been worn away. By the end, we are being handed quite touching, heart-rending numbers, and it's this structure which makes the EP feel so superbly refined. This is quite possibly the greatest underground hip hop release I've had the pleasure of reviewing this year, and well worth the download price. I'm running out of words to express my pleasure in this, so I'll repeat myself. 'Serving Time' is 'an introspective and passion-fuelled lyrical conquest'. An essential listen for fans of rap, hip hop and just downright great music, download it from Wenlock Music here and stream the title track below. I'm going to keep a close eye on Frid and I suggest you do the same!