Review: Potent Whisper (@PotentOfficial) ‘New Radical’

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To be a con­scious rap­per is a chal­len­ging task. It has to do with bal­an­cing music­al­ity with present­ing inter­est­ing ideas. Many rap­pers have failed in this pur­suit.
There­fore, when I was asked to review Potent Whisper’s new ep, New Rad­ic­al, I feared that it might fall short. That it might be noth­ing more than recycled Lowkey or Akala. How­ever I was presently sur­prised to find that Potent Whis­per does indeed bring some­thing new and unique to the table.

Firstly on a music­al level, he does not lim­it him­self to a 90bpm old school hip-hop vibe that makes the listen­er say ‘not again…’. Instead he embraces a range of elec­tron­ic land­scapes that are a reflec­tion of the con­tem­por­ary age. On the four-track EP, we hear tracks that are influ­enced by Grime, Trip-Hop and chilled-trap. Although the tracks range in gen­re, they fit neatly togeth­er and flow eas­ily into one another.

Secondly, although we’ve heard sim­il­ar mes­sages in con­scious rap, Potent Whis­per has his own brand of send­ing them home to the listen­er. Rather than pla­cing him­self on a mor­al high ground where he preaches truth to the audi­ence, he places him­self in the middle of the con­fu­sion. He brings our atten­tion to what he believes to be the impend­ing doom all around us. But at times he gives his opin­ions on how to deal with these issues and how to be a bet­ter per­son.

The Ep opens with a grime track called ‘Deep Cuts’. It comes as a heavy intro­duc­tion to the sorts of themes and sounds that we will hear in the fol­low­ing tracks.  At the start, we hear Potent Whis­per mut­ter ‘they nev­er loved you, they only fucked you’ as the track builds over a cres­cendo of horn and brass samples. The drums drop sud­denly and he raps rap­idly about build­ing an army and ‘bad­din’ the one per­cent’. Here we start to real­ise who he is refer­ring to when he says ‘they’. The lyr­ics explain how oppressed we are and how the sys­tem is con­tinu­ally abus­ing us. To great effect, a dis­tor­ted church choir sample enters the mix, adding to the already intense sound of the track. Whisper’s inten­tion seems to be to shock the listen­er and remind them of the harsh real­ity.

The next tracks, ‘Us, the Work­ers’ and ‘Like Dav­id, like May’ fol­low on from these themes and bring them closer to home by present­ing us with more emo­tion­al imagery. ‘I wake up and make love to hard­ship’, Whis­per says on ‘Us, the work­ers’. He talks about depres­sion, under­pay­ment and his frus­tra­tions with the gov­ern­ment.

The pro­duc­tion on this song reminds me of Trip-Hop. It is slow, spaced out and haunt­ing. ‘The polit­ic­al doom is loom­ing above all of our heads’, it seems to say. On ‘Like Dav­id, like May’, how­ever, it feels like the track is con­tinu­ally rising to a drop that nev­er comes. You expect the bass­line and drums to get more com­plex, but it nev­er hap­pens.

‘Remem­ber Love’, the last song, stands out on the EP and presents the listen­er with ideas of hope and peace. After Potent Whis­per has adequately shocked you with the hard truths of the world, he reminds you that love is key in deal­ing with life.

As he raps in a more con­sol­ing tone, string instru­ments play under­neath. Church choir samples make another appear­ance but this time they hit high notes and present a feel­ing of tran­scend­ence. A female vocal­ist comes in on the hook, telling us to let love hold us. Her voice is so full and heav­enly that we will­ingly accept her words and indeed remem­ber that feel­ing of love. It is then that we real­ise that Potent Whis­per is deep­er than what we may have pre­vi­ously thought. He is not here only to remind us of the polit­ic­al situ­ation but also to remind us of what we should be fight­ing for.

New Rad­ic­al is avail­able to stream on all major plat­forms and avail­able to down­load exclus­ively from band­camp: www.potent-whisper.bandcamp.com 

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Nicholas Milverton
A writer with an interest in Philo­sophy, Soci­ology, Anthro­po­logy and all things intro­spect­ive. Someone who is equally at home in under­ground house raves as he is in café’s. He is con­tinu­ally ques­tion­ing the sys­tem and his own lines of reas­on­ing. There­fore, he is always rein­vent­ing him­self.

About Nicholas Milverton

Nicholas Milverton
A writer with an interest in Philosophy, Sociology, Anthropology and all things introspective. Someone who is equally at home in underground house raves as he is in cafe's. He is continually questioning the system and his own lines of reasoning. Therefore, he is always reinventing himself.