“Perception rules a lot of people’s lives in a negative and positive way, something I thought perfectly summed up where my thought process is, at the moment“
British Hip-Hop is delivering some of its best material since the likes of critically acclaimed rapper Roots Manuva, in the form of 2019 Mercury Music Prize winner Dave and the underground sounds of Avelino.
Joining these multi-talented artists is East London’s Ayar, bringing us his fifth project to date…his brand new EP ‘Keeping Up With The Neighbours’.
The title is from a lyric taken from opening track ‘Chases,’ which within seconds reveals that what we have here is an experimental musician, unafraid to fuse genres to form something unusual and very much his own.
The Bossa Nova-style rhythm guitar over a slow jam beat on ‘Chases’ is enough to put Ayar in the same category as worshipped music artists who also fused Jazz with Hip-Hop effortlessly and to perfection, such as the late, loved, missed and legendary Amy Winehouse. However, it is Ayar’s deep and distinctive vocal tone which ensures him a place alongside iconic British rappers such as Giggs. Ayar is, for sure, aspiring to go back to Hip-Hop’s roots with the use of repetitive samples, which alone deliver a catchy, meditative hook…in other words, he has been taking some very detailed notes from his peers. It is arguably a superb intro to a superb EP.
It is on the track ‘Dwelling’ that we soon enough realise that Ayar is not from this era, and we love him all the more for it. With an old school drum loop reminiscent of early Nas, and glockenspiels fused with a Wurlitzer-style keyboard sound performing an R&B-style chord structure, it is evident that Ayar wants to throw us back to the ’90s. And let’s not forget the saxophone section, performed using enough Reverb to get you completely lost in Ayar’s retro sound and deep lyrics. ‘Puddles,’ despite its memorable chord structure, which is not too dissimilar to Ariana Grande’s notable hook on the hit single ‘Thank You, Next’ and the Nelly-esque drum programming, which remind us of the 2000 single ‘Country Grammar,’ on the other hand delves more into Trip-Hop music production. It is as though Ayar intentionally aspires to bring back many Urban genres, which have been long forgotten by many, to the forefront of mainstream radio. Or is it that Ayar rebelling against what Pop music listeners tend to hear on the daily?
Once ‘Soverign’ drops we are taken back to that “jazzy” Electric guitar, performed over an edgy, Rock-influenced music production, whilst ‘Textures’ deals with more sensual sounds, which brings out the “D’Angelo” side of Ayar, especially when he delivers poetic lyrics such as “swift sailing through the textures, inhaling through the rush, flowing through the waves.”
‘Textures’ is our favourite track by Ayar which will, for sure, be loved by all listeners who are also fans of US rapper Camron. The ‘Keeping Up With The Neighbours’ EP ends with one of the most beautiful melodies we have listened to in a very long time, performed in Latin-style on the acoustic guitar, on the track ‘Travelling’……Ayar’s best Rap performance to date.
We applaud Ayar’s EP for its authenticity amongst a lot of music which simply follows trends for the sake of being famous. Ayar, along with other political and socially-conscious rappers and MCs such as Stormzy, has something important to say, and we strongly recommend that you take the time to listen to Ayar’s music which, lyrically, discusses issues not too dissimilar to the ones raised on Dave’s brilliant debut album ‘Psychodrama.’
Speaking about the inspiration for his Keeping Up With The Neighbours EP, Ayar says, “The inspiration for this project came from me really pondering on how, because I’m trying to keep up with my surroundings, I’m ultimately being dictated to by whatever situation is in front of me. In the 1936 book,
‘The Next 100 Years’, Clifford C. Furnas writes that the phenomenon of ‘Keeping up with the Joneses’ is descended from the spreading of the peacock’s tail. Perception rules a lot of people’s lives in a negative and positive way, something I thought perfectly summed up where my thought process is, at the moment”.
Talent like Ayars’ is rare, and it is also unusual to discover an artist who wants to make music which he, alone, wants to make, regardless of what is “trendy.”
Hip-Hop music should sound just like this. ‘Keeping Up With The Neighbours,’ is out now.