It's quite normal——encouraged even——for artists to grow creatively, however few artists on this green earth have progressed as much as Wretch 32, and fewer still have done so as credibly as he has. Even his biggest, most mainstream hit to date——2008's Major Lazer-sampling "Traktor" with L Marshall——is a certified banger that still stands up a decade later.

Beginning with Combination Chain Gang before forming The Movement alongside Ghetts, Scorcher, Devlin and Mercston, Wretch 32——real name Jermaine Scott——was a blinding talent in the mid-2000s grime and UK rap scenes, balancing consistently reload-worthy bars with astonishing lyricism, and it wasn't long before he started to attract audiences from beyond the scene and branching out with his sound. Nowadays, Wretch is much more likely to hop on a rap instrumental than a grime riddim, and his lyrical dexterity has only improved. We don't need to tell you about his legendary Fire In The Booth freestyles, all of which have become the gold standard when it comes to freestyles.

Wretch's most recent output——including a brief but potent "1 Minute Silence" posted to Twitter——has seen him venture into, and master, a more conscious style of rap. That consciousness has always been present in his music, whether he's criticising the UK's increasingly shameful treatment of PoCs and the working classes or heavy-handed policing, but with each new release he's refining that more and more.

There's no denying Wretch 32 was a huge influence on the current wave of UK rap heroes——people like Sneakbo, Avelino and the rest can all trace their lineage back to Wretch. From his early days with CCC and The Movement, through mixtapes like Learn From My Mixtape to a series of critically acclaimed studio albums, we've done our best to get you acquainted with some of his slept-on gems.

This is Wretch 32's Deep Cuts.

Posted on June 01, 2018