AJ Tracey’s surprise mixtape, ‘Secure The Bag! 2’, serves as a timely reminder of his immense presence. The first EP in the series was a serious statement; three years on, his follow-up doubles as a hint for something bigger while displaying that Tracey can still hold a project entirely on his own on a project with few features.
In the nearly two years since AJ Tracey appeared with a full-length project, his self-titled debut album, released in early 2019, he has seen his name grow exponentially bigger across both sides of the Atlantic while watching from afar as a wave of UK artists emerged from the shadows to dominate the industry. On ‘Secure The Bag! 2’, Tracey has dusted off his mic with the swagger of an MC who knows he still has to stake his claim in the burgeoning UK rap scene as he reminds us on the opening track, ‘Yumeko’, with the line, “I’m the prince of this new-school era”.
‘Secure The Bag! 2’ swings between the grime of Tracey’s come-up and the hybrid, transatlantic rap sounds he’s developed in recent years. From the first moments of the nine-track EP, it’s evident Tracey is having fun while reflecting on his successes. “Would you believe / I killed the shows overseas / Spread the sound like a disease / brought the world to its knees,” he raps on ‘Yumeko’.
Where most artists require features and guest appearances to help smooth out bumps and creases, Tracey owns his spotlight. When collaborators do appear, he doesn’t rely on them to boost a song: rather, Slowthai, New Jersey’s A$AP Mob affiliate Swoosh God and Toronto’s Sloan Evans play supporting characters in the AJ Tracey Show.
Swoosh God and Sloan Evans reprise their roles on On ‘LA4AWEEK2’, a song reworked from the original EP. ‘Graveyard Shift’, featuring Slowthai, is a certified banger, the Northampton rapper at his strongest; he has the visceral intensity of someone wanting to prove a point over ice-cold hi-hats and floor-shaking bass. Across the EP, there are moments for every type of AJ Tracey fan. Lean, skittish drum rolls on ‘Hikkimori’ are underpinned with road rap, which slots alongside the taut trap braggadocio trills of ‘Blow My Phone’. ‘No Chucks’ and ‘Triggered’, meanwhile, epitomise Tracey’s quintessential energetic, boastful rap sound.
STB!2 on the way. this ones for my day 1s. text me if you want it +447984358028 😈 ! pic.twitter.com/7z6VAHOnwV
— aj (@ajtracey) October 6, 2020
There’s even time on the closing track, ‘Colombiana’, for Tracey to flex his ability to get any kind of woman he pleases. It’s not the strongest track here, and perhaps an odd choice to close – but that’s kind of the point. For all its author’s finesse, the features and production, ‘Secure The Bag! 2’ is raw, a collection of loosies thrown together with insouciance and confidence.
Release date: November 27
Record label: AJ Tracey