The Essance

By Masta G

In the shops since last week,Yungun's hotly anticipated new LP combines tracks that have appeared on 12” over the past couple of years with some fresh material. Following acclaimed appearances at Dedbeat and the Jazz Café over the past few months, the collection proves that you should believe the hype on the UK hip hop scene surrounding this North London-based rapper. The Essance admirably pulls together a variety of vocal styles, moods and languages (!) while remaining consistently impressive throughout.

Dancefloor bangers, like the sell-out single Dancing Shoes or his most recent effort Push, never fail to get the heads nodding and the feet tapping in the dancehall. But it's probably the sheer diversity of this LPwhich makes Yungun's work standout from that of his peers on the scene. What I See, for many the standout track on last year's Lowlife compilation, is a conscious anthem which charts humanity's progress from climbing 'out of the womb' to ending up 'under the ground in a tomb'. This version has Dupa Styles compadre Devizes weighing in with a similarly contemplative verse. The melancholic, Mos Def referencing Liquid Love achieves that soulful vibe which seems to come so much more readily to US productions than UK ones, proving that you don't need The Neptunes and millions of dollars of studio equipment to put together a polished and accessible sound. But the real, gritty, UK styles are also in evidence here, on collaborations with stalwarts of the scene like Lewis Parker and Terra Firma's Kyza Smirnoff, who drops some memorable verses on the militant Spit Fire.

Although Yungun is happy to rely on the bombast which is typical of MCs the world over, boasts and put downs are delivered with a winning sense of humour which would even bring a grin to the faces of those who are 'stone faced' because they've got 'no taste'. His positive approach, emphasising 'good times, good rhymes and good vibes' is undeniably appealing, as is his emphasis on a love of food and sex, particularly on Chef YG which pushes the analogy between the two as far as it could go and further. The renaissance man of UK hip hop (can he be the one to drag it into the charts?), Yungun is not only a talented cook but he also speaks fluent Spanish and tears it up with some bilingual rapping on Gringo Lingo, a tune which plays its part in a growing global hip hop culture.

On the evidence of this memorable and truly entertaining collection and sold out live shows, and with a mixtape and a full-length album in the pipeline, it's hard not to see Yungun aka Essa taking over in 2004.
Blackadder posted 2 August 2007 (13:05:44)
I'm loving my UK rap, and Yungun aka Essa aka Big YG is one of the sickest artists around. Biggin up Low Life!
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