Tuesday, January 29th, 2019

Headie One ft. Dave – 18HUNNA

Drill goes to London…


Micha Cavaseno: While his 2017 duet mixtape with fellow member of Tottenham’s #OFB crew RV Drillers & Trappers first sought to put Headie One in the upper tier of the UK drill movement, it was his respective 2018 mixtapes The One and The One Two that ultimately catapulted him far past even the pre-established names of the field and above a greater majority of UK rap during one of the genre’s most prosperous years. Singles such as “Golden Boot,” “Know Better,” and “Tracksuit Love” were monstrous hits that crossed beyond drill, beyond road rap, beyond the ever increasingly segregated and frighteningly policed (both in a figurative inter-genre way and a literal government ordinance way) urban music scene to turn Headie into a man who might be one of the best rappers in the world today and feels hotly poised to be the crossover rap star that the likes of Sway, Giggs, Fekky and others have never managed to become. “18HUNNA,” featuring the ever trend-conscious Dave, is subtly drill-influenced but leaves behind the skeletal hi-hats and bell-like bass glides for g-funk synth whines and a much more standard trappy approach. Dave is certainly apt and nimble, shining with witty bars and dazzling technique. Yet it’s clearly the hypnotic, endlessly unwinding flows of Headie, casually offering groggy wordplays in his dry snake-charmer magic, that should remain the name on everyone’s lips in the future. 

Joshua Minsoo Kim: A song like “18HUNNA” is so hypnotic that it’s easy to overlook how everyone is working at the top of their game. Headie One is the true star, his flows masterful and understated, simultaneously allowing his technical ability and storytelling to shine without drawing attention away from 169’s lush production. Dave’s verse is more flashy, so the beat subtly becomes more active in order to accommodate. In their smooth talks of drugs and money, the two effortlessly complete the noir-like atmosphere that the piano keys and synth pads conjure up. “18HUNNA” is the first top-10 rap hit of the year that absolutely deserves the achievement.

Nicholas Donohoue: A good road to travel in rap is that of blending real vile, gross, immature subjects with great lyrical twists and delivery to make one’s self sound both ascended and grounded. Headie One makes an aside about flushing drugs down the toilet and dodging taxi fare sound like he is discussing a gallery work. A bit of art house in the hood can work some magic.

Josh Love: To me, an idiot, UK drill doesn’t sound a whole lot different than grime — maybe a bit more dead-eyed determined and less dynamic. Here, Headie One doesn’t exactly exude a surfeit of charisma or even menace, but his measured flow is hypnotic enough to achieve earworm status anyway, even if I have basically no idea what in the hell he’s on about (“still waking up to nudes in country”???).

Ashley John: “18HUNNA” rattles along well enough, Headie One handling a slick drill beat with the care it needs in order to bend but not break. Then Dave comes in and jolts the track with effortless energy, making the Headie One’s flow sound lethargic upon return, and the song just never recovers. 

Thomas Inskeep: Headie One has a seductive, almost velvet flow here — I love the way he says the word “comfy” — and producer 169 has given him a sinister-sounding track on which to flip rhymes. Dave drops in to say hello, but this is Headie One’s show through and through. This drill track reminds me of early ’90s L.A. gangsta rap, in the best of ways. 169:Headie::Dre:Snoop? Possibly.

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