Tuesday, March 16th, 2021

A1 x J1 – Latest Trends

Meeting on House Party, blowing up on Tik Tok…


Hazel Southwell: The TikTok element of this is the least interesting thing about it compared to the fact it ought to be straight on the Radio 1 A-List; all the clever, playful flow of grime and the conversational, interrupting rhythm of London. It’s catchy, funny, and hits something incredibly emotive every time the “a year when we could’ve been homeless” tenderly filters through. Should be that song that unites every smart speaker in the park on the first sunny day when we’re allowed out again.

Katherine St Asaph: Can’t decide whether it’s the late ’90s (Kandi, She’kspere) or the mid-’00s (Craig David, Timbaland) the guitar lick is trying to be; pleasant and functional, either way. Same for the verses, perhaps in different proportions.

Oliver Maier: I like the sly gag that none of J1’s pop culture touchstones are recent trends (Whitney Houston, Dexter’s Lab, Britney… well jury’s out on that one I guess). Still, this is not exciting stuff. The sooner we move away from James-Taylor-does-Latin-music guitar noodling in hip-hop beats on both sides of the Atlantic, the better.

Thomas Inskeep: The beat is simple, both A1 and J1 sound fairly dextrous as rappers — nothing to write home about, but decent enough.

Samson Savill de Jong: Baby’s first rap song (almost literally: A1’s 15 and J1 17). There’s potential here though; I like the beat, and the rapping, although pretty standard rap shit, fits well. I prefer J1’s verses, but both of these guys could get better or disappear off the face of the earth, and you’d look back on this song and it’d make sense either way.

Scott Mildenhall: Being so young, it seems fair to focus on A1 and J1’s proficiencies (fluid, complementary deliveries) more than their deficiencies (rubbish received rhetoric about women). While the multi-dimensionally apolitical NHS line feels like a grim indicator of just how successful HM Opposition’s Project Lower Your Expectations has been, the “Bellerin”/”right back” one reaches heights that Digga D and AJ Tracey did not. Above all, watching them together is endearing: two ultimately quite awkward boys who’ve truly found something through each other in a bad time.

Vikram Joseph: A1 and J1 are confident, energetic rappers with a youthful vibrancy that’s infectious. They’re also gauche as hell, and women are presented as objects at best in “Latest Trends”, which feels increasingly hard to let pass purely on the basis that 16-year-old boys will be boys. Even wrapped in clever wordplay about an Arsenal defender, J1’s “I might bell her in, and put her right-back like Hector,” is still uncomfortable. A1 doesn’t waste time on puns, simply declaring that “I dick that ting then I’m on to the next.” It’s unsettling, because, if you ignore those lines, this is a charming, likeable track, and god knows there are a whole lot of men who are charming and likeable if you ignore the way they talk about and treat women. Is misogyny more palatable coupled with a wistful guitar hook and a decent flow? Or does the fact that these guys are young and talented mean that, if anything, we should hold them to a higher standard?

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