D-Block Europe – ‘PTSD’ review: overlong and overblown UK rap, with flashes of brilliance

This 28-track opus, which features Dave, proves that the south London duo aren't in danger of running out of ideas – but they could do with a little quality control

Hailing from south London, Dirtbike LB and Young Adz, aka D-Block Europe, use their new mixtape PTSD to take us on a journey into life as they see it. It’s a life filled with sex, violence and drugs, but there’s emotional depth here, too. From the tape’s introducing skit, we learn that many signs of PTSD includes paranoia, coping mechanisms (see those aforementioned vices) and personality changes. This whopping 28-track tape leaves none unexplored.

The Lewisham duo released their ‘Home Alone’ mixtape at the start of this year; it catapulted them into the mainstream. In particular, ‘Kitchen Kings’, a hazy trap song that peaked Number 16 on the UK Top 40, proved to be their calling card. They sold out two nights at London’s 10,000-capacity Alexandra Palace in just four hours, but this new mixtape is by no means a classic.

Delivering a tape that was, according to their Capital Xtra interview, created in six weeks, D-Block present their interpretations of love songs. The catchy single ‘Home’ was a summer anthem for many and was spun at countless parties and club nights, and it’s definitely one of the standouts on this record. The similar sounding ‘Heart Safe’ is another highlight. Featuring West London’s finest, AJ Tracey, D-Block show love from a thug’s point of view. Talking about the same sexual endeavours across the album, Young Adz fronts this song with a line you can’t get out your head: “I said, ‘Can we talk star signs?’”, which soars amid sparkling trap beats and gravely, auto-tuned vocals.

This thug love theme runs throughout the album; the rappers pour their hearts out as they explain the lives they used to live. Tracks such as ‘808’ (which features assistance from by East Londoner Yxng Bane) and ‘Thug’ slow down the album further with muted beats and soft crooning. ‘Love’ also captures D-Block Europe’s light and shade. Over the guitar strums and floating xylophones, Adz and LB discuss how love can confuse you, asking over and over again, “Is this really l.o.v.e?”.

‘PTSD’ is, in many ways, a great mixtape to finish off the year, filled with catchy tunes to get deep in your feelings to. But 28 tracks is a little excessive – actually, it’s really excessive. Even ‘Playing For Keeps’, which features Mercury winner Dave, gets lost in the mulch. When a track does land, it’s a reminder that they fully deserve their enormous following, and you’d be hard-pressed not to get in your feelings at least once or twice.

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