ROOTS (NSG)

RELEASED 19TH JUNE 2020

Favourite track: Expensive

You will definitely move to this album and find yourself picking up the catchy lyrics

I knew of East London group NSG from their hit single ‘Options’ which took the UK by storm. I didn’t know much else of their music but I knew they had a reputation for commenting on UK meme pages (I would always see their names pop up in the comment section so…). I was keen to give this second album of theirs a listen to get an overall opinion on their music. The cover art  is something I really like – it shows an animated globe in outer space with a tree and roots covering the top part and the continent of Africa. Interestingly, the flag hanging from the tree is the Union Jack so this album could well be referencing colonial history as well as the reality that whilst their origins may have been abroad, the UK is now part of their identity – something that many of their listeners can probably relate to.

Image credit: Twitter

‘Political Badness’ (ft. Randy Valentine) opens the album with an island feel with steel drums, synths and a reggae rhythm. It’s got this summer feel for sure and feels lightweight apart from the heavier bass. It’s one you can move to and the chorus is definitely catchy. ‘MCM’ opens with a deep bass and atmospheric instrumentals and a strong beat. It’s dancy and I like the haunting vocal FX and synths in the background as they sing about their lifestyle and girls. ‘Lupita’ opens with Jazz-style brass instruments, a hard beat, warped bass hits and atmospheric instrumentals. I like this one for sure – it’s got these chill, night-time vibes. Chip features on ‘Nonsense’, a song that looks at stunting and reputation. It’s got a very heavy bass, muted keys to provide the staccato melody and then a very NSG dancehall beat. The delivery is decent on this one and you will move to it. A lot of UK songs about ‘making it’ and coming from nothing are usually more aggressive and full of attack whereas this one is more chill and matter-of-fact about things.

‘Tinder’, a song inspired by the famous app, has some nice strings, piano synths and a bassline that carries the song. I like the beat with this one – recognisably NSG and dancy. It’s got these little nuances going on in the background which adds dimension to the track – I like the variety in delivery in this one too and the chorus is great. ‘Why Stress’ opens with dream guitar and then a gradual beat typical of the style of UK rap. It’s another very chill one which I guess reflects the title of the song. ‘Zanotti’ has those piano chords played in a way to provide the rhythm combined with the beat and tambourines at the chorus. Definitely listenable. ‘Porsche’ catchy and repetitive – will have you moving as usual with that NSG flow. ‘Expensive’ starts off a little different with light synth keys, a chill beat and FX in the background. I like the chorus because it sounds different to the last few songs and would be perfect for a summer nights with drinks. And on that note, ‘dRuNk gUiTaR’ opens with a hard beat and some dreamy guitar melody that’s also quite sad in tone and key.

‘Jorja’ opens with them talking about a girl (unsurprisingly) called “Jorja” and how they wanna smoke with her. The muted piano works nicely and drum roll sounds in the background. The delivery is chill and romantic, especially with the vocal FX and slower beat. There’s more of a sci-fi, synth effect opening ‘Samba’ when the NSG beat comes in but I wasn’t super interested in this one. The backing music and addition of more Jazz brass instruments in ‘Grandad’ is a vibe. I like the fast-paced delivery, the beat and the xylophone effect to add that lighter touch. Again, a decent opening with dream guitar in ‘Ourself’ which talks about how they got “rich” themselves and didn’t need any “help”. ‘Roots’ opens with more guitar, a lighter beat that then becomes heavy on the entrance of lyrics. They’re definitely critical as they claim “if you don’t know your roots, then you’re worthless” – but they do have a point – it’s important to know your heritage and the struggle of your ancestors.

‘Trust Issues’ was a single released ahead of this and I definitely remember liking this one. It’s dreamy, catchy and again I was moving to it easily. The guitar definitely softens the song and adds that magic to it. I didn’t really like ‘OT Bop’ (another single) that much when it came out. I thought after ‘Options’ it didn’t hit the mark – although it was hard to do that so I guess I appreciate that. The final and most famous song saved until last, ‘Options’ (ft. Tion Wayne) is a vibe. You will definitely dance to this and probably recognise it as it was everywhere when it came out with everyone doing dances to it. But it’s a great song.

A good album for a house party or just to have on when you’re getting ready/chilling.