Working his way to the top, Ashley Izunwa aka Ashleyi, is a talent with a great ear for timing with powerful words over lyrical flowetry (yes I made a new word!). Ashley brings us a good dose of new British urban musical talent with sincerity and honesty, and it’s all from West London, sorry Easties!
We were given his mixtape, New TouchTo An Old School Recipe, to listen to, hot off the logic board (nothing gets burnt to discs these days) and its been refreshingly different to the usual line up that we’ve been bringing to you. In the first week of being avalible for download 5217 people grabbed it and his website got 23,684 hits, he’s got to be doing something right!
Ashley writes with a causality of hip hop that takes me back to a rawer age not so much heard since the time of the early Bashy, Kano, Wiley and Giggs generation, and even earlier, though seemingly coming from a more heartfelt place (though I wonder if anyone would know of/remember any of that particular generation apart from maybe Kano and Dizzy Rascal…)
Being a pretty big mixtape (15 tracks in total….you indie lot are slack with your EP’S) we’re going to focus on four tracks: Will I Make It, Friday, One For The Money and 100 Bars Of Fire.
Will I Make It (feat. Siobhan) features the chorus of OutKasts Ms Jackson providing a fresh sound and level of mixing that works well with the lyrical female vocal. Bringing heartfelt sounds and a British vice to what would usually seem like a typical US style of mixing it is completed smoothly and unhurriedly. the arrangement is varied and strengthened by the fact that Ashley isn’t afraid to stretch his own talents and push the boundaries of the track, even just a touch, Though the track seems short it doesn’t lack for a strong sense of simplicity, in that Ashley is aiming to get his voice heard, and is doing it well and quite powerfully.
Friday opens with a spoken intro and then leads into melodic rhythms that trail along easily without meandering off tangent. The vocals that start the track start of very down to earth and have a somewhat jazzy and soulful sound and backing until it moves off towards Ashley’s varied, non obtrusive phrases, that flow and fit together nicely with the backing beat, leaving you with the feeling of a pretty chilled out and even song. Wouldn’t have minded some more of the vocals, especially towards the end. i felt this track reminded me a little of something by someone like Fem Fel.
One For The Money brings back a strong early nineties clever lyrical rhyme over a strong and well though out mixture of melody and Ashley’s words. It’s a well mixed track and varies between lyrically smooth wording and vocal melody. The pace is evenly carried throughout the track and the arrangement both feels and sounds so good that you end up appreciating the level of talent that Ashley has as well as simply enjoying the musicality of it. This track brought to mind an earlier, rawer fell of someone like Ghostface.
100 Bars Of Fire isn’t any less powerful than the other tracks but has a different tone. there is more thought behind the lyrics although it feels as it there is more punch (probably because of the swears- hence the parental guidance!). the mixes in the background are more varied, taking from what feels like different styles of a general hip hop sound and nineties soul and RnB/jazz melodies and orchestral/cinematic instrumental sounds. The arrangement is a lot more broken here with each melodic change melting into a different phrase and tone, which is enjoyable as the differences can bring some ‘golden moments’ where backing and vocal sit tightly together and feed from each other. Yet at times it can be a little disconcerting as you get into one and it suddenly changes, tending to leave your ears and your brain a little confused for half a second before it just gets on with listening and enjoying the new sound. The background beats and ad libs, even from the first few bars, blend in a lot stronger that before It feels as if it has taken a lot more work to put together. It’s a lot tighter and even though in some areas it feels more like a radio mix, it does sit nicely within the overall feel of the mixtape as a whole.
These are only 4 of a total of 15 tracks on the mixtape, and it is impressive. There are references and quotes from up to date British pop performers such as Adele and Lemar, and artists such as Soulja Boy, Nicki Minaj and Nas as well as references to older artists such as OutKast, Notorious B.I.G. and Donell Jones. Overall it’s a great mixtape that showcases Ashley’s talent well.
Ashley is currently running for MTV’s unsigned artist competition for 2013, if you would like to vote for him click here.
Download New Touch To An Old School Recipe from Do It Ya Self Entertainment.
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