On his emphatic High Focus full length debut, Datkid pools from the corrosive Fire in his Belly to spit relentlessly with a range of magma flows across the expansive sixteen track project. Matching the impressive form Teeth Ledger brings to the table is the ever-consistent High Focus stalwart Leaf Dog who lays down an array of inviting beats that perfectly set the mood and tone of the record.
The strong chemistry between Datavelli and Leaf Dog is evident from the off, and the duo really get into a groove on Confessions of a Crud Lord, which finds its biggest strength in its raw, unapologetic nature and charismatic genuity: It is a gritty parable straight from the streets of Bristol propped up by the dark and thumping soundscape courtesy of none other than Leaf.
The self proclaimed Chosen One, Teeth Ledger makes a good job of blending in a pleasing proportion of comical lines and incorporating a humorous twang to his characteristic and often rough delivery. Lead single Crud Addict is a wealthy example of this, where Datkid gets passionate about a bit of cheeky thuggery, as he states “can’t nothing match what jacking you feels like”, but he delivers it so panachely you can’t help but smirk at the audacity. Just for good measure, he continues painting this vividly wicked image of the modern day urban nuisance-to-society with lines like “slap you in the mouth then again just for bleeding” that insinuate a decrepit savagery engrossed in a real tongue-in-cheek British humour.
The various Confessions revealed across the album entwine to form a grimy and poignant narrative about just what it is to be a Crud Lord, as only Datkid could reveal. You really feel you are ‘with him’ as the tenacious storyteller leads you down narrow back alleys and places best to avoid in the dark, as the project gathers momentum while Datkid retains an optimal pace meaning it’s not a struggle to hear each syllable – something rappers often overlook, ironically. This feat renders an audience gripping onto the harsh and determined delivery, for full effect – in fact such is the draw of Datkid’s illustrious narration, you often feel you can’t afford to NOT listen.
The only feature spots are reserved for truly special appointments that really mark the ambition of Datkid, and the increasingly impressive reach of High Focus – the menacing Scheme On lays out Datkid’s candid attitude towards getting that paper, no matter what and the feature of Roc Marciano is a tailor made appointment. He comes through with a velvet smooth verse that really elevates the track.
There is a similar story on the rough, bass-driven track Briefcase, where Westside Gunn steps up to spray a highly animated and topically ruthless set of bars, who’s higher pitched voice inserts a sense of urgency and plays off the contrasting lows of Datkid’s rich, low snarl. Westside Gunn’s Shady Records labelmate Conway The Machine kicks into gear smoothly on the watch your back warning track Eyes that acknowledges the dog-eat-dog state of modern life. While the features present do the project great justice and are all positive additions, they also serve to prove how well Datkid can hold his own across a full length project without relying on multiple features, but also with some high stature US rappers.
At no point does Confessions of a Crud Lord masquerade as or even try to be anything it’s not – this is an album championing an organic, ‘old school’ hip-hop approach – knocking beats and a raw, hungry, talented MC; no gimmicks or autotune, just beats and bars – and it’s all the more hard-hitting for this: right from the opening bars you know you’re in for a ride, and Datkid doesn’t let off the gas. The project portrays an artist who knows his sound and is technically impressive – furthermore this experience culminates in how the project avoids a lot of the pitfalls often fallen into on a first full length.
Confessions of a Crud Lord is out everywhere now – order it from High Focus here.