In January 2021, the UK rap scene welcomed Brighton rapper ArrDee into the fold thanks to the massive viral success of his Mixtape Madness freestyle ‘Cheeky Bars’ (which now boasts 6.5million views). ArrDee – real name Riley Davies – was quickly marked out as one of the UK’s most promising talents thanks to his larger-than-life, bravado-streaked rap style, which fused the machoism of Ludacris, Big L and Benny Banks with an internet-age musical motherboard.
The Drake-inspired ‘6AM In Brighton’ and a spot on the remix of Tion Wayne and Russ Millions’ huge single ‘Body’ (the first drill track to top the UK charts) further heightened the hype surrounding ArrDee, and that’s without mentioning the three other top 10 singles (‘Oliver Twist’, Digga D collaboration ‘Wasted’ and ‘Flowers (Say My Name)’) in his arsenal.
Now it’s time for his aptly-named debut mixtape ‘Pier Pressure’, which, as the Lola Young-featuring track ‘Who Woulda Thought’ explores, largely serves to chronicle the coming-of-age tale of its dispensable delinquent-turned-rap superstar creator.
On ‘Late Night Driving’, ArrDee reflects on the personal consequences of his strong work ethic. “It’s 5AM on the m’way / I been all booth all night, giving my all,” he raps with contemplative conviction over a guitar-laden, hi-hat-heavy instrumental. “Ain’t seen mum in a month, and I miss her.” He switches tack with the throwback UK garage single ‘Flowers (Say My Name)’, which sees ArrDee interpolate Destiny’s Child’s ‘Say My Name’ and Sweet Female Attitude’s ‘Flowers’ to deliver some cheeky and confident bars. “There’s no way I’mma stand in the rain,” he tells one love interest in the hook. “I can still make you say my name, say my name, say my name / Life without me might drive you insane.”
‘No Biggie’, meanwhile, sees ArrDee deploy a 2000s-like flow that’s reminiscent of the party rap earworms of yesterday, while ‘War’ sees him go back and forth with Manchester rapper Aitch over a cinematic yet somewhat over-produced track.
Although some of the tracks on this mixtape lack the rapper’s usual lyrical dexterity (‘Fruitella’, ‘Come & Go’), this concise 11-track project thankfully isn’t overloaded with guest features that come across like contractual obligations. Instead, ArrDee plasters the record with radio-friendly drill beats, quality rhymes and nightclub belters befitting of his character, ensuring that ‘Pier Pressure’ provides a clear snapshot of a rapper very much on the rise.
Record label: Island Records
Release date: March 18