Newly-crowned Jumpoff champion Innuendo is one of the seminal figures in an ever-growing Liverpool rap scene. An emcee, a community worker and an activist, he’s also something of a reformed character – having overcome a life of crime to build a career and be a positive role model to youngsters.
That said, the 24-year-old still freely admits to being a long way from perfect – occasionally (or rather frequently) succumbing to booze, drugs and promiscuous sex.
Soz Abar Me, Innuendo’s second album, is largely rooted in his personal life – a life which is awash in self-contradictions and frequent “apologies regarding [his] being“. It’s less your requisite bombast-rap fare and plays more like an autobiography with frequent moments of sincerity in which he grasps and tackles personal concerns that rarely go beyond the prosaic and ordinary. Self-aware, but not overly “conscious”, Innuendo taps into various emotions and proves himself a decent storyteller in this his follow-up to Deep Breaths, his 2008 debut album.
The stocky Scouser generally forgoes machismo in favour of sentimental raps about ex-lovers, his frequent bouts of self-deprication and some harrowing tales of his misspent youth, explicitly referencing events like his 12-month court case “all for selling green” and surviving a near-fatal car crash. Indeed, his rhymes are set in the everyday, as opposed to the vague and existential, which is utterly refreshing, carrying these through with a structured, almost conversational style of rapping and a crisp delivery.
The raps themselves are set to various high-quality beats procured from various producers like Liverpool’s Ro Jista and Lancashire’s Saint Bastard, which provide an eclectic backdrop to his tales of street life, boozing, nightclubs and promiscuity. In addition to the more narrative-based are also concept tracks like ‘Nicolatine’, a brilliant double-time number produced by featuring Tri-Cypher’s Evila from Warrington which uses a very similar parallel as Rizzle Kicks’ Miss Cigarette between nicotine addiction and lust for a particular girl. These are cleverly interspersed with recordings of well-rehearsed acoustic performances like ‘One Night Stand’ and ‘Old Flame’, stories of sexual exploits and quasi-romance featuring guitarist and singer Dave Wilson.
The album does ccasionally falter in the beat department, but overall it’s pleasantly diverse, with more haunting, melancholy loops crafted by the likes of Brainchild contrasting particularly well to downtempo and synthy joints courtesy of grime producers ChartStalker and Blizzard. Newcastle and Don’t Flop battle sensation Suus brings layered instrumentals to the fore in ‘Bandwagon’ and ‘Growing Colder’, two of the most rounded tracks on the album, while Innuendo also solidifies his own reputation as a producer with ‘Hang in There’, though the long meditative sustains dilute his compelling diary-like vocals at times.
Some of the albums tracks are not as well-crafted as others, and his admissions of vulnerability and self-deprication are sometimes a tad overwrought, but the album itself generally plays well as a deep and intense personal account of a paradoxical character wracked with guilt, but at the same time unable to resist the vices contributing to his ruin. He’s basically a lesson in self-contradiction, and that’s not a bad thing: in fact it’s what makes him infinitely more personable to listeners than your average vanilla-plain hip-hop posturer.
Soz Abar Me oozes with unabashed tales of real life. Though his language is often crude, Innuendo packs in poetic storytelling and though his album hardly forges a radically new sound, it provides a stirring listen from start to finish. Now he’s part of High Rise Entertainment, a countrywide network of established urban artists, I predict a bright future for the Liverpool rhymer, who I hope will one day go from local hero to a household name. Only time will tell, but I think it’s about time the whole UK got to hear a Scouse voice in rap for a change.
Purchase Soz Abar Me from Innuendo’s Bandcamp page.