Review: Wildhood – VERT

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Rizzle Kicks' Jordan Stephens a.k.a. Wildhood, has released VERT, which is a fun and interesting debut that is certainly worth a listen.

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Rizzle Kicks’ Jordan Stephens has debuted his latest musical venture, Wildhood, in the form of an 8 song project, VERT.  As one half of the famous hip-hop duo, Stephens has already showcased his rapping ability, and is now braving a record on his own, without his pal Harley Sylvester. He has attributed inspiration for the release to the music that epitomised his childhood, in particular the likes of Stevie Wonder, Portishead, Nenah Cherry, and Gorillaz, which graced his Mother’s car ride cassette tapes. The mini-album is produced by Tommy D who is renowned for his work with the likes of Corinne Bailey Rae, Graffiti6 and KT Tunstall, and features Stephens’ father on bass.

VERT’s opening track,’Baggy’ starts with a driving bassline, and even before entering into Stephens’ vocals surrounding “the search for Mum and Daddy in the bottom of a baggy”, it is clear what the song is about. The echoey ‘Double Dark’ comes next, which slows things down a bit for a reflective moment, and gives you the opportunity to appreciate the vocals. ‘Psycho Jam’, which was previously released on SoundCloud 8 months ago, is a catchy track that brings the tempo back up again to make for a more varied listen. ‘Hate Me’ and ‘Whole’ are among the other standout tracks that follow, before the release concludes with the more angsty ‘Only Wonder’.

In an earnest post on the Rizzle Kicks’ Facebook page Stephens spoke of how he has, until having the encouragement of producer Tommy D, lacked the confidence in taking on the singing on his own. Despite this, VERT is a confident and interesting release that is so much more than just an alternative copy of Rizzle Kicks’ previous work. It instead moves outside of the constraints of the mainstream market that the band’s popularity forced them into.  There is a complexity to VERT, which is at times fun, but at other times has a darker edge to it. Wildhood has left space to move in new directions while giving listeners a chance to know what kind of sound to expect from the project, so the EP is well worth a listen.

VERT is out now via Trippy Day.

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