From the East Coast of America to the streets of East London, the history of rap has always been a game of survival. This holds particularly true on ‘The Resurrection’, the latest album from the Mancunian MC Bugzy Malone.
Written after a near-fatal motorbike accident last year, the self-proclaimed ‘King of the North’s record is a tale of defying the odds and never giving into defeat. Whether it’s overcoming a troubled youth, creating a legacy for northern rap or moving into Guy Ritchie gangster films, Bugzy already has a pretty G-status life-story – all of which he diarises on ‘The Resurrection’ in rags-to-riches style. But most of all, there’s a newfound perspective on this album that can only come from, as he boasts on ‘Skeletons’, lying comatose on a hospital bed and grinning in the face of the Grim Reaper.
In-keeping with its title, second album ‘The Resurrection’ aims for a Biblical musical palette. Frequently you hear operatic wails and titanic drum thuds among the standard rap beats that are worthy of a feature on The Gladiator soundtrack. The album closes with a slightly weird interlude ‘The Immortals’, narrated by an American voice-over, pre-cursing a trio of songs that constantly reference archangels, gods and evil spirits. Despite its classical ambition, though, ‘The Resurrection’ isn’t exactly an opus.
Surprisingly for an MC who made his name with the fiery, blistering word-play of grime, Bugzy’s flow sometimes feels laboured; ‘Men III’ and ‘Angels’ clumsily blur the lines between a freestyle and an Instagram story, mentioning shout-outs and tour dates. ‘Bounce’ and ‘Notorious’, on the other hand, are radio-friendly but disappointing – the latter especially, given Bugzy’s historic beef with Chip, doesn’t match up to its Biggie–2Pac flaunts.
That isn’t to say that there aren’t bursts of brilliance on ‘The Resurrection’. Bugzy’s delivery may have changed with the times, but he still has an undeniable gravitas as an MC. The emotion is palpable on ‘Welcome to the Hood’ featuring Emeli Sandé, and ‘Van Gogh Effect’ is a deceptively powerful account of a childhood marred by violence: “can you get traumatized at five?” he asks rhetorically.
Imperfect but trying, the album’s title track showcases ‘The King of the North’ at his best: “Mama, do you love me?” goes the gospel chorus, as the MC attempts reconciliation in a swirl of cinematic orchestration. If Bugzy Malone could channel more of this on his next record, perhaps then he could ascend to rap legend heights.
Release date: May 28
Record label: B-Somebody