Today we're reviewing the debut album of UK drill artist and rapper, Headie One titled 'EDNA'. Headie One has been on the come up lately and reached heights not many rappers in the UK have reached - even hitting a global audience as some songs on here boasts features of huge overseas rappers such as Drake and Future. With some good singles and a lot of hype - could Headie deliver?
The production on here is what you expect - cold, dark drill beats with aggressive and deep 808s, such as on 'Triple Science' which has this booming drill beat as Headie talks on his life trapping in the bando. The beat is amazing, and Headie's delivery makes the bars hit harder and it's a great start at the beginning of this album. There's the slight issue especially in the first half that the beats lack variety and makes some songs sound the same, such as on 'The Light', as Headie reflects on making it from his drug dealing days to where he is now. The lyrics are pretty descriptive, and it's a decent song but compared to the past tracks it doesn't have the hardest bars, best production or even the best flow - I like it, it just doesn't stand out amongst previous songs. Some beats on here are even bland, such as on 'Five Figures' which has these light bells but overall it's pretty generic as he talks on his lifestyle in the trap and how far he's made it to get where he's at now. It's a pretty mediocre track, and my least enjoyable so far - the beat doesn't do much and the melody of the hook was bland - the only part of the track which is redeemable is the flow and delivery which go hard from Headie. The majority of beats here are good however, they either bang or work well with Headie's style - it's just there's some duds as well.
Headie's lyrics are decent throughout this, nothing crazy but there's some hard bars and punchlines in there, such as on the opener 'Teach Me', "I rub the clitoris, she lick my finger, she don't know she suckin' on my trigger finger (Turn, turn, turn, turn, turn)", as he talks on how his life revolving around the trap but he asks his late mother to teach him to forgive his enemies. The banging trap beat, aggressive bass and soppy piano sounds great and the melody on the hook is nice - he glides effortlessly on the booming beat with some solid bars and a nice flow - it's a great introduction. 'Breathing' has some hard hitting, and honest bars, "Them sentences for rapists and them dealers should be different (Turn) // I guess that depends on what the colour of your skin is (Real talk)", over this deep, heavy drill beat which bangs as we get a real insight into his life as a drug dealer and his thoughts - also he talks on his gang mates that have gone down and the faults with the justice system. It's a hard hitting track, the first verse especially and he makes some great points on here to give us a great track. 'Try Me' see's some great punchlines and a solid verse from Headie, "Headie One got a big head already // Why girls still wanna give Headie One headie? (Turn, turn, turn) // 'Course I can't wife this jezzy // Run through her then forget it like the year 2020 (S-S-S-Suh)", as the track compares their current life to pre-fame life to their life now and warns people not to run up on them or they'll retaliate over this banging drill beat with really cool, distorted vocal effects. Skepta on here goes hard of course with great confidence in his delivery and hard hitting bars as well, "Remember I weren't eatin' for days // Now money comin' in like your girl backstage (Yo, One)". The beat bangs, Skepta and Headie rap very well and it's another track which goes hard. There's not much out else to say, decent lyrics which hit harder with his cold delivery. His delivery can also get melodic on here and that sounds good, while he has a solid flow throughout this but without much variety to it - making some verses sound too similar to others.
There's loads of features on here including some big name ones such as: Drake, Future, Stormzy, AJ Tracey, Aitch etc. They pretty much all turn up - even the artists I'm not a big fan of, such as Future on 'Hear No Evil' as he goes hard over these booming 808s and quick, tempo'd bass as the track talks on the crime life, gang life and rich life. Headie has a few funny lines, "Arse up, face down, she in love with the flick // Chandelier is wet, lookin' like I let her come on my wrist", and overall is alright and it's a banger to put it simply - both rappers just spit for their life and the hook is great with a nice melody to it - the album is back on track with this one. Headie uses the fierce competition to better himself as some of his strongest verses and songs come from songs with features, such as the hit single 'Ain't It Different', which see's AJ Tracey provide some great punchlines as he flexes his wealth, talks on his shooters and reflects on his come up as he comes in hard and raps his ass off. Stormzy has some hard braggadocios bars on here, "I don't really take no checks, I'll warn you // And I don't do threats, I'm cordial // I don't even Snap on the jet, it's normal", with his usual confident and cocky delivery as he glides the beat brilliantly. The sample on this track makes a great beat with banging trap elements as it also gives us a really nice hook. Everyone jumps in and goes hard on this song - it was big in the UK for a reason and has a shout of being the best song on here. Mahalia features on 'You/Me' with great vocals over these very subtle drum kicks, but there's nothing too special to the beat. It's about wanting a girl to be loyal and down for him in good times and bad - it's a bit disappointing after the amazing run we had but it's still a good song, with a nice hook and some solid verses.
Content wise the majority revolves around his life as a trapper on the streets selling drugs, such as 'Bumpy Ride', which has this mysterious synth line and booming 808 pattern creating a great, dark atmosphere and instrumental. M Huncho was on the track and I'm not usually a fan of him but he glides the beat here with a nice, melodic delivery giving us a nice hook as Headie also provides some great verses. There's not much variation at this point but it's still sounding good so it isn't an issue. He spends a lot of time reflecting on his come up and flaunting his new found wealth, such as on 'F U Pay Me' which is a menacing banger about the rich lifestyle and how money is all that's on their mind. Ivorian Doll features here and is quite the surprise, she goes so hard with a great flow and such energy and presence in her verse over this groovy beat with 808 kicks which absolutely bang. Headie has victorious and great braggadocios bars as this track goes so hard - the hook is amazing as is Ivorian Doll and it also has a shout for the best song and most surprising song on here. 'Cold' is Headie reflecting on his time growing up - the good, the bad and how he just wanted to make in life over this deep, dark synth bass and lighter piano keys to clash with that - it sounds good. Headie provides some introspective, emotional and reflective lyrics, "I used to wanna play footy, I used to pray that I get scouted (Told me turn, ayy) // Daydreamin' in the pub, there’s nothin' else to do out 'ere (Told me turn) // Because the youth clubs' closin' and the youth offender’s crowded (Turn, turn, turn, turn)", as Kaash Paige has great vocals with a psychedelic edge to them. It's a great ending to the album, with a really nice hook and an introspective Headie verse or two to finish it off over this enjoyable beat. It's not exactly too descriptive or personal to Headie, it seems quite surface level when he speaks on his experiences - which is something I hope he betters in the future.
Other tracks to look at include 'Psalm 35' which talks on his rough upbringing and time in prison as he asks for his mum to watch over him. The guitar based drill beat absolutely bangs and it's a good second song, I don't think it's too great but it's smooth sailing enough. 'Mainstream' has this more relaxed, drum pattern and fuzzy, electric synth line which acts like guitar riffs as he reflects on the days living in the street compared to now he's made it. Headie provides some great braggadocios bars and hard hitting ones, "Five top twenties last year, I didn't realise (Teach me) // I told my label "I'm just happy to be still alive" (Teach me, teach me)", and a nice hook as it's another enjoyable flow. The flow at first feels a little bit off but it comes into its own eventually. 'Princess Cuts' features Young T & Bugsey who as usual give us a nice, groovy and smooth hook and great melodic verse over this dance hall beat with cool guitar riffs and a nice bass melody. The track focuses on flexing money and women and is an absolute banger with a really catchy hook and great tracks. '21 Gun Salute' has these nice booming trap elements - not much else to it but it's a decent beat as the track focuses on the time he was selling drugs and was sent to prison compared to now living the rich lifestyle. Young Adz actually does well with his feature, I'm not his biggest fan but he rides the beat well and matches Headie's energy. It's a good song, I like the flow of the hook but again it doesn't stand out much compared to other tracks - mainly being Headie's verse which isn't one of his finest but I enjoyed the song.
'Only You Freestyle' has this really dramatic and cold drill beat which bangs as Headie has some hard bars while Drake's feature really grew on me lately, I think he goes hard but his fake British accent is slightly off putting - there's some good bars though. The whole track comes off as so cold and menacing, it's a proper drill beat and Headie shows us how it's done - Drake isn't bad though and it's a great song that had to grow on me. 'Parlez-Vous Anglais' see's Aitch and Headie go back and forth so well as Aitch has some cool lines and is a guaranteed good feature over this blues/jazz inspired trap beat - it's a weird combination but works. Headie has some mean punchlines and a funny one or two as well, "Yo, shorty said "H" // Me and Aitch both lookin' like H or Aitch? (Who? Uh)", as the chemistry between them is evident to see and it's another banger. 'Everything Nice' has a more seductive, slow, R&B type beat as Haile provides some really nice, smooth sounding vocals to create a relaxing atmosphere on this track about having love for a girl and giving her anything she desires. It creates a great vibe, it's a really good R&B/rap track and both turn up and do they jobs. Finally, 'Therapy' has a pretty bland trap beat as he talks on how past events - prison, beef etc. has taken a toll on his mental health before. Headie has good lyrics, a solid flow and a hard delivery but the beat isn't much special - it's a decent song but still a low point.
To conclude, Headie snaps on this album - he's rapping the best he ever has and despite all these features he doesn't allow himself to get outrapped once. The beats bang most of the time, and Headie's energy makes it pop more and for a debut album - it's a very strong start and it's great to see an artist like Headie improve as much as he has over the years. There's a lot of drill on here, but he also ventures into different avenues and gives us a load of variation in the strong second half. A few tracks could've been cut off but it's still a great album.
FAVOURITE TRACKS: Teach Me, Triple Science, Ain't It Different, Princess Cuts, Hear No Evil, Breathing, Only You Freestyle, Try Me, F U Pay Me, Parlez-Vous Anglais, Everything Nice, Cold LEAST FAVOURITE TRACK: Five Figures
OVERALL RATING: Solid 8/10