Blanco – ‘City of God’ review: Harlem Spartan gets funky for his solo debut

A key member of the legendary drill group, the Kennington star is coming into his own with a bold, idiosyncratic mixtape inspired by Brazilian funk

Hailing from one of the most notorious drill groups in the UK, Kennington’s Harlem Spartan Blanco has finally release his first mixtape, ‘City of God’, without his boys behind him. Breathing life into quite a repetitive drill scene, the 22-year-old’s worldly sound and versatility is all over his debut mixtape, ‘City of God’. With his solo popularity rising out of the south side of the River Thames, Blanco’s ‘Pull Up’ was a soundtrack to pre-pandemic parties and raves. But with his debut solo mixtape, he shows that he doesn’t need to rely on his signature funk to make a good song.

One of the standout features of Blanco’s music is the ricocheting bassline of Brazilian funk – aka baile funk – found in ‘Pull Up’. Well, you can hear this all over ‘City of God’. On ‘Surveillance’. featuring the Afrobeat superstar group NSG, he slows down the usual uptempo music to blend their respected genres for a delightful track to two-step to. Proclaiming that it “costs to be a boss”, the track is a sunny, boastful addition to the mixtape.

However, it’s the single ‘Asura & Indra’ that sees the evolution of Blanco’s signature sound. With his uniquely idiosyncratic flow atop the ticking bassline, there’s a soulful undertone to the production, thanks to Sango, which really elevates Blanco’s sound and separates him from his fellow drill peers. Named after Naruto manga characters, ‘Asura & Indra’ isn’t the only time his TV and pop culture references are on point

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‘Dennis Rodman’ is one of those songs you’d recommend to your buddy who’s never heard of Blanco. Perfectly balancing all the qualities that his fans love about him, the track has the commercial appeal of modern UK drill and US trap sounds but keeps all those pop culture punchlines that make Blanco Blanco. Great quips such as “Vampires in the night, Buffy / Slay that opp or I splash that dummy” paint a picture of the sometimes violent life of south-east London in a way that’s blunt enough to understand. However, with his metaphors, his stories seem anecdotal, and almost humorous. What’s not to love?

On his debut mixtape, Blanco is a promising addition to the UK’s roster of up-and-coming rap stars, who are changing the sound of UK rap with either different flows or production – for Blanco, it’s both. At the start of his career, he could have slipped into the drill scene and produced more of its typical rampant sounds and skippy flows. He’s an exciting one to watch; let’s see how far Blanco can take his love for baile funk.

Details

Release date: August 20

Record label: Universal Music Group

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