In the history of London MC culture, certain names have been known to survive long past the genres they initially make their name in, and endure through the rapidly changing contiuum that is UK urban music. Whether its dancehall & bashment, hip-hop or dance music they might first appear in, it could be anywhere else where they truly feel their presence felt. R.A AKA Real Artillery, best known for his work in the infamous South London crew of Roadside Gs, might be the best known modern example of a rapper or MC whose reputation isn’t necessarily upheld by current successes, but an enduring legacy of respect amongst listeners in the know. In many ways the progenitors of Road Rap, Roadside G’s existed alongside many grime crews in the early part of the new millennium, as one of many trailblazers who couldn’t imagine the rewards, money and interest that would gravitated the genres way. This year, R.A. was finally freed from Her Majesty’s after a long term sentence, and while the occasional leaked freestyle has kept appetites waiting, it’s a full-fledged comeback – in all its CDQ glory that the people have been waiting for.
While the rest of Roadside Gs have been working since the beginning of 2017 to put themselves on the map, the freshly debuted “Felony” is noteworthy because as stark as a departure it is from the styles that R.A. was working in before his incarceration at the beginning of the decade, it’s not exactly unpredictable. R.A. might be much older than the majority of the drill rappers his music will be placed beside, but his trademark run of lyrics steeped in gritty violence and roadlife have certainly not been hampered by his time away, infact as far as skills on the mic go he doesn’t appear to have lost much of a step at all. Rather the flashiness and early ’00s sort of skip to his delivery make his raps ten times as potent as some of his younger, more laconic competition. “Felony” isn’t perhaps the anthem of 2017, but it’s a warning that R.A. is definitely coming for the scene he was ghosted from, and is in no way ready to retire gracefully.
Words: Maxwell Cavaseno