NSG – ‘Roots’ mixtape review: A would-be summer classic packs chart-baiting hits and vulnerability

Spritely and vulnerable, the London collective's new mixtape lives up to their chart-topping reputation

After taking 2019 by storm, NSG‘s new mixtape ‘Roots’ had all the makings to be the soundtrack to this year’s summer before, er, all of this happened. With their biggest song ‘Options’ reaching Number Seven on the UK charts and over 28 million views on YouTube following suit, the star power emanating from these platinum-selling, shoulder-flinging east Londoners is almost overwhelming.

Opening with the smoothest interpolation of TV’s iconic Arthur theme tune, these west Africans nod to West Indian culture with the Jamaican-born, reggae star Randy Valentine on ‘Political Badness’. The rebellious stance on the track shows us where NSG’s roots start; as members of black diaspora: “Man ah mash P’s / Can’t be seen nah at the crime scene”.

By opening ‘Roots’ with uplifting reggae, the following tracks are dared to follow suit. ‘Why Stress’, drills away your harrowing problems, as the group ponder: “Why would I stress?” Although a generic Afroswing track on the surface, the minimalist, guitar-fronted instrumental has all the rush of digging your feet in the sand on a calm beach. But since we can’t do that right now, NSG have wrapped up sunshine, a piña colada, and roaring waves in three spritely minutes.

Of all the eighteen tracks on ‘Roots’, NSG put aside two to talk about their love of influential women. First the sunny ‘Lupita’, which matches current social climate as many take the time to appreciate black women. Sampling the raunchy New Yorker’s Foxy Brown’s ‘Get Me Home’, the group croon over this nostalgic slow-jam, telling us declaring a soft spot for UK model Eva Apio: “She black like Evvs, sexy like Eva / Counting on new rules, just like Dua Lipa”.

Then the tantalising ‘Jorja’ is another slow-jam for the ladies, named after – you guessed it – Jorja Smith. Drawing again on their Jamaican influences, the group interpolate two classic reggae hits (Junior Kelly’s ‘Love So Nice’ and Shabba Ranks’ ‘Ting A Ling’) for this romantic moment. NSG are inspired by this when singing about their crushes, and by doing so, show the world a vulnerable side to themselves: “Table for two, we can fly anywhere / When you want me, I will be right here”. Willing to put their hearts on the line, they show us that they’re more than just churning out club tracks and accompanying dances.

Of course near the end of the record, the viral hits, ‘OT Bop’ and ‘Options’ are there so you can shimmy your way out of this lovingly versatile mixtape. With 18-tracks, ‘Roots’ runs the risk of becoming monotonous, however these east Londoners smartly stay clear of boredom. Instead, whilst you’re missing your routine Friday night or time with your partner, NSG have created a playlist for your every emotion, and confirm their position in the UK scene as the hitmakers to beat.


Release date: June 19th

Record label: NSG Entertainment

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