The London rapper’s melancholy third studio album may not be a genre game-changer, but his renewed focus results in sharp street portraiture
The second Fredo album in the space of six months begins in portentous style. There’s a reading of an extract from an 1852 speech given by the former slave and abolitionist Frederick Douglass – a speech that contrasted the celebration of “freedom” on 4 July with the lot of the slave – followed by a churchy sounding organ playing a figure that distinctly recalls Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor. “I know labels don’t want it to end this way,” offers the rapper on the chorus, “but I had to tell them it’s independence day.”
It’s the kind of bullish declaration of freedom an artist might make had they recently quit, or been dropped by, a major label: a new beginning, free from the interference of A&R men and bean-counters suggesting you round your edges and demanding to know where the next hit is. But the advance stream of Independence Day arrives from Sony, bearing the logo of RCA, which has released every preceding Fredo album.Continue reading...