Everything is being tested in these trying times, and as well as Netflix and iPlayer, a lot of us are turning inward, and still others are using this opportunity for introspection to skewer the times we find ourselves in.
Charlie Steel, already well known to us at Stereo Stickman as a fearless voice in UK hip hop, has come up with PANIC, a rap performed over a well-chosen sample of Dr Dre’s Deep Cover.
As social commentary, rap can get a tough rap (!) if the subject of the song doesn’t resonate with you personally. Well, this release will resonate with every person with a heart and a brain and ears. It’s about everyone, and it’s for everyone.
Neither preaching nor complaining, it’s visceral observation: ‘Staying indoors trying to do my bit / You’re running round London ‘cos you’re thick as shit’ and further, in a modern twist on The Smiths’ song with the same name, ‘There’s panic on the streets of London’.
In fact, Charlie Steel has constructed so many tasty soundbites in this acerbic tune, it’s hard to pick a favourite. But while a lot of the rhymes scan beautifully, my favourite moment comes with this deliberately uncomfortable couplet: ‘You have worth and I have morals / I have a heart and you have fuck all’. It’s gallows humour, sure, but I still spat my drink out in mirth at this moment.
There are some smart production moments here, with intelligent use of double-tracked and backing vocals, and a moment that sounds like a children’s choir – with multiple effected voices coming together in a way reminiscent of Pink Floyd’s Another Brick in the Wall.
Right now, however, some people DO need some education, and here’s another smart release from Steel, from right at the cutting edge.