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Published on March 8th, 2019 | by voxx

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AJ Tracey – AJ Tracey

If any UK rapper seems preordained to make a formidable mainstream breakthrough in 2019, it is AJ Tracey. Since first emerging in 2015 he’s won praise from Drake, appeared in a Labour election campaign video and helped launch his beloved Tottenham’s FC’s kit – all without a debut album to his name. If Tracey was contending with the burden of expectation when it came to a full-length outing there’s scant sign of it here.

His self-titled debut is overflowing with bravado and braggadocio. Occasionally the latter can wear a bit thin when he engages his eligible bachelor autopilot mode on ‘Wifey Riddim 3’, but far more often than not his dexterous wordplay eclipses any slips. Be it sparring aggressively with Giggs on the ominous ‘Nothing But Net’ or boasting smart one-liners such as “I’ll run man’s city like Kompany” on ‘Doing It’, his talent justifies his ego.

If lyrical exuberance was all Tracey offered it would be impressive enough, but he should be applauded for serving up curveballs, too. The summery groove of ‘Butterflies’ showcases his own spin on dancehall, but the sound of him exporting his swagger to a Nashville postcode on the skittering drums of ‘Country Star’ is even better. Here he proves every bit as comfortable singing over acoustic guitars as he is quick-fire rapping. As such, AJ Tracey not only lives up to his hype, he transcends it.

- By Jake White


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