Itch’s debut solo EP leaves one with the notion that he should first learn how to f*cking rule at making music before focusing on life itself.
The first track of Itch’s first EP, ‘Spooky Kids’, starts out promising. Itch’s flow works pretty damn well with the beat provided in a way that gears you up for, what you assume will be, a decent piece of grime-lite/ska. Unfortunately the spell is broken with the introduction of some low effort brostep wub-wub which does little other than clutter up what was a decidedly above average sound. This acts as a precursor to the disappointing hook, filled with underwhelming base drops and the various electronic chirps you would expect from – hate him or rate him – Skrillex. The disappointment you may feel listening to this opening track is pretty indicative of the EP as a whole.
‘London is Burning’ is a mess. Written as an answer to the riots that swept several of England’s major cities in August 2011 it really just ends up being a bit of a boring track. The flow present in ‘Spooky Kids’ is nowhere to be seen, replaced by a harshly yelled rant, about 75% of which is the same lines repeated ad nauseum. Imagine a pissed off mockney Will.I.Am. It’s about half as awful as that, which is still pretty awful. The only thing to say about the beat is that it is dull and after listening to it a good dozen times I’m still pretty clueless as to what exactly the point of this song is. A secondary feature of listening to this track a dozen times is that I really want to break things. CD’s to be specific. I’m going to go ahead and call this mangled attempt at political statement an absolute must-skip.
‘True’ comes in and acts as a much needed breath of fresh air. While much more chilled out it shines out as the finest track so far, coming off as Jamie-T like while still retaining its own individual sound. Unfortunately for some reason angry (read: awful) Itch from ‘London is Burning’ makes a completely unnecessary and confusing return about one minute from the end of the track. This invasion is mercifully short but seriously damages the value of this track, you really do have to hear it to appreciate just how completely out of place and jarring this assault on your ears is.
‘Bruises’ is the final track of EP1. If you’ve made it this far into the EP you are rewarded with its most consistent sound. It’s a decent summery track, all steel drums and reggae flavours, and by far the most coherent sound. Unfortunately I was so deadened emotionally by this point that I found it hard to enjoy ‘Bruises’, I kept waiting to hear a crappy wubstep break or someone screaming about the capital being immolated.
In the end the worst thing about How to F*cking Rule at Life, apart from ‘London is Burning’, is wasted potential. There are good moments in each track (apart from ‘London is Burning’) but good moments simply are not enough to save this EP. Itch has some talent but it isn’t given a chance to shine here. Unless you are a fan of his previous work as a member of The King Blues it is my recommendation that you steer well clear.