UK drill rapper Unknown T has dropped his debut mixtape titled 'Rise Above Hate', shortly after being released from prison and cleared for murder. The rapper made huge noise with his hit 'Homerton B' climbing up the charts, and after nearly 2 years since then, and countless charting songs he finally drops his first project to high expectations.
The production on this album as you expect is full of banging drill beats, we get this straight from the get go on 'Steppy', which has this fast paced beat with submerged 808s and a decent drop to it. The track is about the typical - feds, his block and his opps, and he is pretty uninteresting with his words here but his delivery and this banging beat make it an enjoyable few minutes of straight rapping. Also there is some generic ones here and there, an example being 'Fresh Home', which isn't bad it's just safe but the eeriness of it works well. Other than that this song is great though as T tells us about his experience in prison with descriptive and hard bars. It's the most gripping track lyrically, his flow was solid and overall a very good song. 'Mortal Kombat' also has the same kind of style beat, but with a lot of life to it I enjoy it as Unknown T gives a fuck the police anthem. It's just a fast paced, quick, banging song that hits you hard - it comes and goes but isn't forgettable due to its quick tempo. The hook is pretty catchy, despite it being repetitive as well. The main elements of the production on this album includes aggressive, menacing atmospheres with distorted 808s and sliding drums as I call them.
Unknown T himself gives us a mixed performance here, with some tracks providing us hard bars or funny punchlines - while other tracks lyrically are either basic, generic or uninteresting. An example of him being really basic comes on 'Tug Boy', with lines like "My Nine boys too lit like candles", but other than that the great energy of T matches the menacing beat and makes it a great track. 'Prison' has some hard bars to it, "Blacked out cars and we leave no trails // Nine gang lurk in the night, no girl // Knives or bruck back sawn with bells", well it's mainly the energy he says it with that makes these lines hit harder as talks on facing jail time over this pretty generic drill beat, which isn't bad just your typical drill beat, nothing too interesting about it. With a few funny lines and good energy again, it's still an easy listen. We get some attempted wordplay on 'SS Interlude', "Baby I been livin' ocean, frankly I don’t even lotion", as Unknown T switches his style to a more melodic, loved up vibe and it worked and was really good. With slower strings, and a calming vibe the beat works well for T to talk on his mental health and the girl he likes. His aggressive delivery really makes his bars land with more venom on this mixtape.
Feature wise the ones selected were mainly melodic to clash with Unknown T's mean style. For the most part the features either were just average, didn't add much or were quite bland. There was some really good features here and there however. Young T & Bugsey provide vocals on 'Main Squeeze', and they add a new dynamic to the project with their melodic style but other than that it wasn't overly entertaining. The lighter beat, quick drums and kicks were decent, just like everything about this track - it was just all decent but nothing more. AJ Tracey's feature on 'Lave Dat Trap' was good, it was just a standard AJ verse but he sounded good with his fire flow and he had a few good lines, "If you ain't gang, can't dap my man, thirty mill by thirty yeah that's my plan". The track focuses on the trap life and not wanting to leave it over these deep, sliding 808s with a high tempo - and with a catchy hook again it's a song that just absolutely bangs. KO and V9 feature on 'AVEN9ERS', with V9 having this commanding delivery, great energy and a solid verse while KO was decent as well, just not as good as V9. The guitar and flute beat wasn't too interesting, and the lyrics weren't interesting - what makes the track decent is the way they all come together and show nice chemistry, going back and forth with each other.
Content wise it had the usual drill topics of: weapons, running the streets and flexing - demonstrated by the most recent single 'Deh Deh', where he talks on these topics over these sliding 808s and this piano. The hook is fire, the beat is great and again it's an enjoyable track. A few songs touched on other stuff as well, such as 'Addicts' talking on drugs and the effect on the community it has over this catchy drum pattern, and nice melody within the beat. M Huncho features on the track providing a nice melodic flow, but with average lyrics he wasn't overly entertaining. Unknown T was decent, but again all the song was, was decent - it needed just a bit more life. 'Ambition', the final track, focuses on his ambition in rap and his trapping lifestyle over this lighter, piano beat which does it job and captures the attention to make us really focus on the lyrics. It's a great track, it really lets us know his sights for rap - the only issue with this song is the hook just isn't memorable and feels more like part of the verse. The content does get kind of repetitive and stale after a certain point however, but it's not a massive burden on the music.
Other moments on the project include a 'Jail Call Skit' where Unknown T gets a phone call from his girl while in prison saying she'll always be by his side. It's a nice edition and well fitted (even if the acting wasn't great). 'LV' has a standard beat but it bangs, while Young Adz feature wasn't bad, it was easy to sit through but just didn't add a whole lot. The focus is about being the plug and flexing, it's a solid track again that just sounds good with its aggressive delivery and smooth flow. 'Squeeze & Buss' has this lowkey, decent drill beat as he talks on bussing guns and the police, but this track after the previous few is a drop in quality - it's still decent but not as engaging or as entertaining as the last couple or three. Finally to talk on 'One Time', it's another song that's just one verse - talking on the same thing as every other track meaning it isn't gripping enough to stay interested. His flow, the beat (despite the fact the drop is a cock tease), and his delivery all work together to make sure it isn't a massively boring song.
To conclude, this is a great drill album in my opinion. It can get pretty generic or uninspiring at times - but it also has its highs points. Unknown T still has massive potential to unlock - and I'm sure he'll reach it. He could do with work on the hooks because they usually weren't too catchy or maybe similar to the verse - it did have some great hooks though so there's proof he can definitely do it.
FAVOURITE TRACKS: Steppy, Deh Deh, Tug Boy, Prison, Fresh Home, SS Interlude, LV, Mortal Kombat, Leave Dat Trap, Ambition
LEAST FAVOURITE TRACK: One Time
OVERALL RATING: Light 7.5/10