Arguably one of UK hip-hop’s most slept-on artists, Baron Samedi is a diverse and thought-provoking MC who’s ability to shape a song musically and to take an original thought in a whole new direction distinguishes him from many of the current crop of solo artists in the underground scene. His creativity, musical nouse and intelligent bars all interlock in his new release titled ‘Ghost Network Vol. 1’, a 7-track EP which runs the gamut from gritty third-person narratives, including one about an abused prostitute in ‘Leap of Faith‘, to a charming and slightly sardonic take on the ‘Great British Summer’. All of the tracks on this EP bar one are produced by Baron himself and all display very sturdy underground hip-hop production values, giving real pathos to his down-to-earth ruminations and narratives that are largely centered on real-life subjects. His solid instrumentals, allied with his creative but unpretentious lyricism, create a worthwhile package sure to satisfy the cravings of a UK hip-hop head.
There are some thoughtful concepts in this EP, and, even with the addition of an obligatory, if gratuitous track about weed, it’s a relatively original offering from the talented London-based MC/producer, even though it could be argued that it lacks an overall contextual thread to make it a more complete package. Still, contrary the current trend of calling your EP an album — a phenomenon I’ve still yet to get to grips with — Ghost Network Vol.1 is, thankfully, an EP in the old-fashioned sense, providing the listener with a tantalizing glimpse of what’s to come. Indeed, with several top-notch albums under his belt including the critically-acclaimed ‘Life Music’ which he produced for fellow UK MC Grit Grammar, Baron is establishing himself as a UK hip-hop mainstay and even something of a cult hero; definitely lacking the recognition he truly deserves, but soldiering on regardless.
Another thing you can’t help but be fond of is his clarity of expression and refreshing honesty, as affirmed in the track ‘Kerouac’, an old-school joint which really hits the spot: “This ain’t arthouse, this is IMAX – in your face.” Rappers and rap fans alike will no doubt appreciate the vexed honesty and slightly disgruntled humour of Hater Now, a track in which he lambasts, among other things, “gigs with no fans and mics with shitty sound” and pours scorn on “bad grammar; especially when rappers use it as a cheap trick.”
The EP’s two stand-out tracks for me have to be the aforementioned ‘Leap of Faith’ and ‘Great British Summer’, both in terms of theme and execution. The latter portrays the bliss and the idiosyncrasies of a muggy Great British summer, detailing among other things himself, an archetypal “Englishman” whose “skin turns the colour of a tin of spam“, and swimming where “the seas ain’t as clean as St. Lucia’s” and “ain’t even as clean as a teenager’s room is.” Added to that, he also does a superb job of singing the choruses, both on this and on ‘Leap of Faith’, a well-conceived tale of a sado-masochistic sex predator and the prostitute he becomes obsessed by.
Choosing to remain in the gritty and the realistic, this is the sort of straight, no-frills hip-hop many fans of underground rap will adore — so if you’ve yet to do so, you need to go check it out. Don’t sleep on this guy any longer!
Stream or download Ghost Network Vol. 1 for free on Baron Samedi’s Bandcamp page: