K-Trap, Blade Brown & Road Rap’s Evolving Elders

Words: Yemi Abide

On paper, the partnership of K-Trap and Blade Brown may have caused one’s head to turn. One of those link-ups so far from leftfield you have to double back to confirm its authenticity, a union of one of drill’s premier acts in K-Trap and a road rap veteran in Blade, two artists on arguably opposite sides of the musical tracks. But really, it makes complete sense. Collaborating from way back in 2019 on the “Going Back To Cali” freestyle and later on “Joints” on Blade’s Bags & Boxes 4 from the same year and Trapo’s “Probably” from his Street Side Effects project a year later, a true bond and friendship has formed from these efforts, reaching a fever pitch in 2022 in the shape of an entirely new project, Joints, marking them out as a formidable tag team.

Showcasing some serious adaptability, K-Trap, who’s had a phenomenal couple of years by even the highest of standards, steps into Blade’s world sonically, as both dish out bars over that trademark road rap sound (“6 Figures”, “Free Game”, “Each One, Teach One”) with some trap (“La Cosa Nostra”, “Re-Seller”) and drill (“Bigger Me”, “1M”) added for good measure. Chemistry is key when two forces join and this duo have it in abundance, with Blade’s bars akin to an older who’s seen it all on the roads, while K-Trap has the youthful energy to dish out lyrical drillings.

Over production by the likes of Skepta, Nyge, Ghosty, Splurgeboys, M1OnTheBeat, GX, Aaron Or Age, Cage Got That Cold, Nathaniel London, 5ive and R14, the duo maintain their street essence by spitting game on the trap, relationships, trust, and getting this money. At just over 30 minutes in length, Joints never runs out of steam, instead expanding the duo’s worldview and relentlessness when it comes to the bars. While it never feels like competition between Blade and Trapo, it’s loud and clear how much they complement and feed off each other’s energy. With massive replay value, Joints leaves plenty on the table for future bangers between the two and gems in their respective catalogues.

While K-Trap continues his impressive run of consistency stretching over three years, flowers must go the way of Blade, whose artistry is aging like unopened wine as the UK music scene embraces new faces and fans—a trend being seen among his generation of MCs who rose during road rap’s height in the early 2010s. Whereas many of that first and second generation have faded into the ether in terms of relevancy, either by being away from music or life taking over, the likes of Blade, Youngs Teflon, Tion Wayne, Potter Payper, Rimzee, Tiny Boost and more have remained steadfast and adaptable to the changing waters of UK rap.

Where drill has taken over as the sound of the streets in style and attitude, these artists haven’t lost course, with their vivid lyrics touching a chord with drill and rap fans alike, proving that although the music’s different these days, the desire for real rap has never faded. Meanwhile, their willingness to embrace the times and collaborating with younger artists has kept their names in the mix in a way that may not have happened had they refused to adapt. From Blade, Youngs Teflon and Potter rapping over drill beats and working with titans like K-Trap, RV and Unknown T, to Tiny Boost and Rimzee bringing South London drillers Kwengface and M24 into their own established worlds of road rap, these vets have understood that as the times have changed, so must they, ingratiating themselves to a new generation of rap fans who may have missed their prime.

Their stories have proven transcendent of whatever sonic trend envelopes this country, speaking to their powers as artists putting together timeless music. Putting on for the scene when it was considered in flux in the early to mid 2010s, they have become cult heroes whose fans, invested in their journey, have grown with them and for that, they hold a special place at the very heart of UK rap. So much so that they are reaching new levels of acclaim as they continue to perfect the art of rapping, never losing the edge that made them stars in the first place. While we may never see the era of gritty bars over glossy production at the top again, the game’s OGs will no doubt evolve and embrace the today and tomorrow.

Posted on March 30, 2022