67 – The 6

Few UK rap groups can currently claim to have the level of influence of Brixton’s 67. Arguably the architects of the UK Drill phenomenon that has held sway over the current rap scene, the team that was once comprised of fringe outcasts have managed to eclipse a majority of their former superiors. Thanks to a deeper catalog and consistent grind, they’ve certainly reaped the rewards of their efforts. But UK Drill has managed to become a scene that has fallen into cheaper cliches from many an unimaginative opportunist and has been plagued not only by the violence associated (both fairly and unfairly) with the genre. Their newest release, The Six, has the strange obligation of taking advantage of a scene they’ve undoubtedly fathered, but to also be strong enough to ensure they’re still the kings of Drill and deserve to transcend the label as well.

In the years since core member SJ’s imprisonment, 67 have roughly coalesced into a main crew of the most commonly recognized members (LD, Dimzy, Monkey, Liquez, ASAP). More recently they’ve begun to draft additional members whom have weaved in and out from under the 67 label including R6 & ST (who also dropped their own duo tape earlier in the year), Itch, and various others. One could arguably call 67 the ‘Wu-Tang of the UK’, in that the crew is recognized for a dark signature sound and equally gritty lyrics, and seems to be continuously expanding and reaching out to more and more potential affiliates. This time around, The Six features none of their more traditional associates such as Youngs Teflon, The 86 or the Harlem Spartans but instead cameos from rising star Headie One, newcomer Do Road and their unintentional rivals, the Section Boyz. Of the old guard, Dimzy appears to be particularly invigorated for a majority of The Six, handling hook duty on many a track as well as providing some of his best performances in years. Meanwhile, both the older and newer MCs are all present and turning in verses of equal quality, suggesting that the infusion of newer blood has proven effective in revitalizing the group after the disappointingly tame outings on last year’s The Glorious Twelfth. Whether it’s LD’s piercing baritone, ST’s audible hunger or Liquez absolutely absurd boasting, everyone brings something to the table.

Yet besides the infusion of new talent on the microphone side, 67 have also learned to improve on the production side by picking a slew of productions that bang but manage to hint that they’re much more than the Drill sound that they’ve birthed. Beatsmith Carns Hill, responsible for a majority of both their debut mixtapes, has been less consistently behind the boards in recent years. That his contribution is a hard-left like the murky and warped “WAPS Came 1st” demonstrates how both he and his former collaborators are eager to show how far they’ve come since that early material. Meanwhile, the likes of Mazzabeats, Slay Productions, M1OnTheBeat and more help to diversify production for 67 like never before, providing intriguing results for the team. When wavy, trance-like dirges such as on “Bros” or the old-school meets new-school approach of “67” kick off, one can hear the group finally starting to leave the comfort zones of drill and redefine themselves without abandoning their wickedness for more friendly and commercial aspirations. Not to say that more familiar tracks such as “Serious Nights” or “Blood Pit” aren’t strong reminders that the team are inherent masters of the style, but instead we’ve got a more confident 67 tackling anything they so please.

For all the talk of returning to form here, let it be understood; this isn’t a ‘comeback’ tape for 67, but perhaps their strongest outing yet. The Six‘s only arguable flaw is that for it’s few obvious hits such as recent singles like the gothic “She Wants” or the muted “Pink Notes” are not anthems of the level of “Let’s Lurk”, “Today” or “Take It There” that have provided the group their most massive breakthroughs. Yet few if any records on the tape ever manage to feel like missteps or play by the numbers to their detriment. 67’s arguable biggest weakness is being consistently focused on their mixtapes, to the point that even their most efficient and well-recognized tapes get bogged down by rather uninteresting filler. Despite clocking in at 16 tracks, the now fully-restored and newly-improved crew are at peak performances from start to finish, providing some of their strongest material to date. It may not be the record that manages to convert any of the skeptics or haters, nor is it any indicator for some kind of industry breakthrough for the team. Yet it’s a well-crafted and developed project that has serves as a vindication of their talents and that in spite of their successes, their ambitions have hardly been satiated. If anything, this may yet set the stage for the next evolutionary step as 67 transition from rising act to veterans of both drill and the UK Rap scene at large, as the team works to establish even more talent and continue to prosper well beyond their minimum expectations.

With up to 5 mixtapes under their collective belts, not to mention various solo-singles, guest appearances and future projects soon to arrive, 67 have already manage to achieve more than most of the scene have dared to dream. Here on The Six, they have the rare ability to boast that they’ve managed to become stronger with time, and despite changing the landscape of UK music and daresay the whole of rap in some ways for the past 3 years, they show little signs of halting progress to relax. Off the strength of such a solid project, one can only hope that not only do they continue to deliver such quality work, but that they even manage to exceed their previous heights and deliver on an unforseen level. Time will tell if this is an achievable goal, but The Six is certainly evidence that 67 have what it takes to continue to remain standout talents like few could predict.

Written by /
Published /
July 11
Category /
Album Review