Footsie – ‘No Favours’ review: grime legend returns to revive the genre he helped to define

One half of Newham Generals with D Double E, the rapper has made his solo debut after 16 years in the game. And it was well worth the wait

Proudly repping the skippy flows and braggadocio that’s inherent to grime, pioneer Footsie – after 16 years in the game – has finally released his debut album ‘No Favours’. A trailblazer in the mid-noughties UK scene as part of the Newham Generals with the legend D Double E, Footsie tries to make grime cool again, joining forces with MCs he’s befriended along the way. Proving that grime isn’t dead, ‘No Favours’ is one for the UK purists out there.

The title track is a refreshing, mellow take on the typically buoyant genre. ‘No Favours’ warps chirping sirens to achieve a serene sound, giving the album room to breathe. Then, atop of the breathy instrumental, comes an intellectual rap from Footsie, who reveals the brutal violence he grew up in around Newham, east London. “A little younger lost his life and I’m wondering why / Yeah, that’s where I’m at / Where was his saviour dem?”.

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But when Footsie strays away from the more commercial sounds, he brings out the deafening classic grime production and its synths galore. Taking all the way back to 2006, when grime engineered its classic buzzing, computerised sound, ‘Music Money’ is an exuberant reunion track for the Newham Generals. Showing off their idiosyncratic vocals and frenetic flows, Footsie and D Double E (with BBK’s Jammer tagging along) make a track perfect for grime raves… when they open back up. It’s full of buzzing reverb and feel-good energy; you’ll want to skank it out to jumpy rhymes such as: “Everything sweet, just like honey / I’m not a dummy – I’m not bummy / Pengest food – yeah, it’s yummy”.

The insightful skit ‘FWD Skit’ takes us back to the origins of grime with a classic recording of a Newham Generals show in the iconic FWD club. It’s opened up with one of D Double E’s signature lyrics from 2007’s ‘Birds In The Sky’ – “If you, you, can come against I, I / Them bullets will fly like birds in the sky…” – before Footsie follows with a giddy verse that was deserving of a wheel-up. The track is distorted due to the live feedback, reminding us of the golden times of grime and its raving culture (think Wiley’s Eskimo Dance parties held in and around London). Here Footsie reminds us of the UK’s magical rap history in just 53 seconds.

Footsie has done the UK proud with his debut, which is a nostalgic walk in the park for many grime fans. Although this may not be to the taste of younger UK rap fans, those who give it the time will appreciate the grime MC’s meticulous craftsmanship. He might claim that he doesn’t do favours, but here Footsie has leant a helping hand to revive grime.

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