Lowkey – Soundtrack To The Struggle [Review]
After the runaway success of Lowkey‘s debut album, Dear Listener, in 2009, Lowkey’s status has risen and his support base has grown along with it. So much so, upon the release of his sophomore album, Soundtrack To The Struggle this week, the album appeared in the top ten of the iTunes album chart and clocked up a position in the official midweek charts; pretty impressive for an independent artist, eh?
The 26-track album features 20 tracks, along with 6 insightful skits which help to drive home the themes and messages behind the songs themselves.
The first quarter of the album has a triumphant, inspirational vibe with anthems such as Too Much, the Lauryn Hill-sampled beat features the divine voice of Palestinian songstress, Shadia Mansour singing the chorus, whilst Lowkey comments on money and how it incites greed. He spits “Money can buy power, but it can’t buy respect. Money can’t buy sleep, but it can buy a bed. Money can’t buy you love, but it can buy sex. Do you possess money? Or by money are you possessed?”
Voices of the Voiceless, features well-known political activist and American artist, Immortal Technique. The track sees the two emcees go hard over the despondent beat whilst sharing their strong opinions on war and political issues.
By this point, you’re probably thinking this is just another “conscious rap” album, right? Well, actually, you couldn’t be more wrong. The album features many layers, this is proven in my highlight track, Dreamers. The track features moving vocals from Mai Khalil and documents Lowkey’s experience of loss and death. He rhymes about a friend who committed suicide and speaks on his regret of not offering help before her death. “I wish I fixed her pain, I should’a, could’a, would’a tried, but I took it personally and turned to leave, and to this day I’m still haunted by the words she screamed..”
SBTV Dreamers Acoustic session:
Next up, we’re treated to the return of UK hip hop royalty and East London native, Klashnekoff. The track, Blood, Sweat and Tears sees Lowkey and Klashnekoff go back to back over the triumphant beat, whilst they chant the chorus “I’m still here! Pushing after several years, I’m still here! Standing strong, never in fear! I’ll be still here! After the dust settles and clears, I’ll be still here! After the blood, sweat and the tears.”
As we move towards the end of the album, Lowkey takes a more reflective approach in tracks such as, Dear England. In this track, Lowkey gives his opinion on recent controversial events, such as; the UK riots, the death of Smiley Culture and Rupert Murdoch’s political influence. The track acts as an accurate reflection of the current frustrations felt by many people in our country’s most troubled areas.
Continuing the reflective theme, we’re greeted with Haunted. This emotional track sees Lowkey sharing his feelings towards the suicide of his brother at the tender age of 18. He reflects on the current situations and challenges he finds himself facing, with criminal and legal issues relating to his public image. The track opens with “My brother died when I was 18, Now I’m 24, and I keep having the same dream..” and goes on to express, “I was born to fight oppression, but I’m traumatised and stressin’, with this borderline depression, swear I’m haunted by your presence.”
The album comes to a close with Million March, another heartfelt track which aids the listener to sink deeper in to the mind of the rapper. It sees Lowkey recite the infectious chorus of My Soul whilst Mai Khalil features to deliver yet another passionate vocal.
To conclude, Soundtrack To The Struggle solidifies Lowkey’s position at the forefront of UK hip hop, with intelligent lyricism, pertinent subject matter and on-point production; the album is already being hailed a modern classic, a title the album more than deserves. It serves as an example of the endless possibilities of achievement for independent success with hard work, passion, commitment, and a love for the music.
Purchase Soundtrack To The Struggle on iTunes HERE.
Grab the physical edition of the album HERE.
Review by Ash Houghton