Deema – ‘Chew Your Food’ EP review: rising star of UK rap displays an appetite for success on debut EP

Versatile production and quick-witted narratives are the order of the day from the rapper who once rolled with Novelist and The Square collective

Keep an eye out for Deema. The 20 year-old MC first showcased his talent for wisecracking lyrical blows while rising through the ranks of south London collective The Square (alongside its break-out star Novelist), known for such viral hits as ‘Pengaleng’ and ‘Lewisham McDeez’. ‘Chew Your Food’, Deema’s debut solo EP, builds on his early promise while stretching beyond the boundaries of grime and exploring the wider possibilities of the rap genre, armed with his signature wit and willingness to indulge in experimental styles of production.

Teaming up with fellow Square comrade Dom Valentino, who handles the production side of things on the EP, ‘Chew Your Food’ boasts a sense of fearlessness that’s blossomed from the duo’s years of doing freestyles and radio sets together as part of the collective. ‘SE4’ pays tribute to their roots, combining glitching video game samples with intergalactic synths and what sounds like ‘Fix Up, Look Sharp’’s unmistakable “woo!” vocal sample. On the mic, Deema delivers punch-after-punch of satirical bars: “Order order, don’t open the border / If you saw them swimming would you leave them in the water? / Sterling sterling I need all my earnings, I need all my taxes send me to The Gherkin!

Humour is laced throughout this seven-track collection, such as on the recent bouncing single ‘Hash Brown’. Part-homage to everyone’s favourite breakfast food (its accompanying music video sees the rapper and collaborator David Armada messing around in a greasy spoon), it’s been described by Deema himself as “the real banger on ‘Chew Your Food’” and sees him despair at the braggadocio of some of his peers. “Every boy wanna be a baller or rap star / just so they can grab a girl and go and get some Gauchos,” he sighs. “Artful dodger pick the pockets, pockets on my clout flows”.

The gaming vibe in the instrumentals returns with Need For Speed-style samples on ‘Dead Weight’ as Deema, his voice pitch-shifted by Valentino to create a trembling sensation as if he’s riding a fantasy motorbike while recording, declares: “Head down thumbs up, get my funds up / Down on my luck, oh well no Ls / Showtime tell a buff girl slow wine.” The track, however, gets cut short, instantly throwing the listener back into the studio as the pair jokingly sing: “You better chew your food!

There’s something effortlessly brilliant about Deema’s presence on the ‘Chew Your Food’ EP; his delivery of compelling and rhythmic lyrical blows throughout making him seem wise beyond his years. While ‘Hash Brown’ impressively stands out as the clear banger of the collection, you would hope, however, that’ll he be firing out a few more big-hitters like it by the time he gets into album territory. The ‘Chew Your Food’ EP is still definitely a meaningful move away from his grime beginnings, though, and it’ll be exciting to watch Deema continue to carve out his own niche of wry, experimental rap.


Deema - Chew Your Food

Release date: July 3

Record label: Different Recordings

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