If you were to ask me who are some of the best UK-based rappers one of the first names I’d give you is Black Josh. The Manchester-based emcee consistently delivered incredible projects, with his debut full-length 2018 album Yung Sweg Lawd being a clear highlight in his discography. As a member of Cult of The Damned and Levelz, he has established himself as one of the most exciting and consistent artists to come out of the country. Like with Yung Sweg Lawd, his brand new album MANNYFORNIA is produced entirely by fellow MCR resident and LEVELZ affiliate, Metrodome. His eerie, spacious and often atmospheric production complements Black Josh’s dark, visceral and introspective lyricism perfectly, and this new album pushes their creativity to new heights with a dynamic, menacing and infectious new sound. Black Josh’s pen game has definitely improved throughout, while Metrodome’s production sounds as visceral and eclectic as ever before.
“SELF DESTRUCTION” opens the album out with an intense and dynamic beat, perfectly complementing Black Josh’s self destructive and angry lyrics, setting the tone for the rest of the album. “FIFA STREET” featuring Yibby is one of the many highlights on this album. The thumping boom-bap beat features smooth synths and impeccable flows from both emcees, who bring braggadocio raps, flexing their skills throughout, as Black Josh boasts “And I’ve got enough rhymes to fill a million books / I feel alive when I’m killing stuff.” This is the type of energy that can be found all over this cohesive 16-track album. The dynamic, bass-heavy “MANNYFORNIA” is another highlight on this album, with intense energy as well as clever wordplay from the talented emcee – “This is nothing sacred, Mannyfornication / A body was a temple, it’s the home of Satan / Devil in a red dress, dirty talk with death threats / session ’till the morning, we ain’t going bed yet.” The dark and unassuming tone of this track makes it a standout on this album. The production and tone of “2 BAD” featuring Manchester-based singer [ K S R ] reminds me of a smooth Tyler, The Creator track with it’s infectious synth leads throughout, while Black Josh’s flow on “LOCALS” is absolutely incredible, as he raps effortlessly about life in Manchester and being recognised by locals over a lively beat. “SMOKE” featuring Meme Gold is a soulful cut, with gorgeous vocals from the talented singer and a more subdued and relaxed verse from Black Josh. “RAGE” featuring Lunar C and Lord Apex is another highlight, while “ENDZ” is a soulful and personal cut that features beautiful introspective verses from both OT Babyface and Mennis. “THERAPY,” as suggested from the title, is a personal and introspective track that gives us an insight into Black Josh’s state of mind, as he speaks on his mind being fucked also mentioning how his extensive drug use has effected his mental state. “VIMPTO” featuring Abeni and Coops is another smooth and soulful track, while “PRETTY FACES” and “SKRUFF” are sonically colourful tracks with aggressive and dynamic lyricism throughout.
On MANNYFORNIA, Black Josh, with the help of Metrodome, has crafted a cohesive, dynamic and eclectic album with intricate flows and verses highlighting his skills as an emcee. His ability to paint a vivid picture of his own experiences whilst also showing a more soulful and vulnerable side speaks volumes about his talents, and I’m sure he’ll continue creating cohesive and creative albums in years to come.