EDNA (Headie One)

Released 9th October 2020

Favourite track: Everything Nice

A varied, magnificent album that showcases the best of UK rap (with some additions) looking at money, crime and love with great musical production.

I know I haven’t reviewed in a while but when I saw that Tottenham artist, Headie One, had released a new 20-track album EDNA (named after his mother), I knew I had to review this one. I reviewed his other album Music x Road which I liked so I was keen to see what this one was like, especially because names like M Huncho, Future, Drake and AJ Tracey were featured on it. The cover art is a side profile body shot of Headie One in a dramatic black and white holding something in his hands with ‘Edna’ written in the air.

Image credit: Twitter

The first track ‘Teach Me’ opens with light synths in the background that, haunting the track whilst a combination of soft Dubstep bassline and fast-paced Drill beats come through to give the track attack. This one looks at his own struggle and mind in chaos as he asks to be taught forgiveness. ‘Psalm 35’ opens with magical guitar style strings (usually found in RnB I would say) and then adds a UK rap beat with strong, consistent bassline on top whilst he raps over about coming from a “broken home” and how his mum watches over him as his “mind is a warzone”. The production here is gooood. M Huncho features on ‘Bumpy Ride’ which is such a UK rap song. The flow is typical of that style and delivery is razor sharp. M Huncho’s rap compliments Headie One’s well and gives the tune a different angle. Distorted strings/synths open ‘Triple Science’ which then meet a heavy warped bass as he raps about his enemies and taking an oath. ‘The Light’ opens…very light. It has delicate sounds and then we have that chaotic warped bassline (Dubstep or House style) and then a Drill beat cutting through accompanied by vocal FX in the background to vary the sound. It ends in such a cinematic way too which calms it right down and adds a melancholic tone to it.  

‘Ain’t It Different’ featuring Stormzy and AJ Tracey opens with feminine vocal FX and then a Drill beat and bassline comes through. The rap is hard and met with pause for emphasis to allow for the vocal FX to be heard. I loved AJ Tracey’s bit which also has a light melody in the background going off. Stormzy was also a great addition to this one. Having the variety of rap style and voice really made this track exciting and one of my favourites. I have to say I LOVE ‘Mainstream’ too which has a tropical vibe in the background, chaotic drums, solid bassline that lifts the track and makes you move. I love the kind of Arab strings sound in the background too that comes in with the chorus. Young T & Bugsey feature on ‘Princess Cuts’ which will have you moving. I have already heard this one somewhere – maybe in an ad promoting the album or on someone’s Instagram story – but it’s a vibe and a song for the girls.

’21 Gun Salute’ (ft. Young Adz) has a similar guitar and beat to ‘Psalm 35’ but this one has a dark tone to it as he tells a story about crime and trust being tested and ends with a burst of vocal FX and then piano and strings. ‘Five Figures’ opens with piano in the background that becomes more tense until a beat and bass drops, again accompanied with guitar. ‘Hear No Evil’ features Future is fire-y, intense, fast-paced and has Future rapping in UK flow! (didn’t see that coming) – also love the reference to Al Pacino movies. The backing instrumental is also sooo good with kind of an electric dream guitar on repeat as they rap about their lifestyle “money and power, cocaine, gun-powder”…big Scarface vibes. ‘Breathing’ opens with an audio almost like a skit but then it transforms into rap as the music slowly comes in to fill the silence. I love the bassline and beat in this one. It’s HARD and the vocal FX build up this tense, crazy atmosphere that works so well.

The highly anticipated Drake collab – ‘Only You Freestyle’. It opens with choral vocals, a hi-hat and then Drake referencing “Maya Jama” and rapping Arabic (which drove everyone crazy when it came out and had many Arab dad’s laughing at his pronunciation but hey, it was a great addition to the track). His flow isn’t too bad. It definitely doesn’t feel natural since Drake has his own style that works more with an RnB style but it’s interesting to experiment with genre and see how a Canadian rapper fares when on UK beats. ‘Try Me’ (ft. Skepta) had me like wow another collab? It’s actually crazy how many massive names are on this album. This one had a HARD bassline, Drill beat and tense/distorted) vocal FX synth and the contrast in vocal rap from them worked well.

‘F U Pay Me’ (ft. Ivorian Doll and Kenny Beats) features female rap (wooo!). It’s fierce and I love the almost rap battle going on between them with a childish taunting vocal in the background as they go on about money. Aitch also makes an appearance on ‘Parlez-Vous Anglais’ which has his playful vibe to it which I have to confess is his trademark thing and it works in every song. He definitely has pressure coming onto this album as a relatively new artist compared to UK rap veterans like Skepta and Stormzy but I think he pulls his weight. This one has them speaking French as they talk about money and their change in lifestyle. Haile features on ‘Everything Nice’ which opens with a kind of skit of a guy talking about how the view, dinner and girl is “nice”. It then bursts into a romantic track which I looooove! Another one for the girls and Haile’s vocals are perfect on this and you’ve got to play this one nice and loud. Another female artist, Mahalia, features on the next track ‘You/Me’ opens softly with a muted synth and then soft beat with heavy dropping bassline. This one is another one for the girls which features a magic RnB backing with UK rap flow on top. Mahalia’s feature is something else – just listen. It’s a beautiful track and now I’m soooo torn about which one is my favourite.

‘Therapy’ opens with dream guitar, slower beat and then rap about being “antisocial” and “coming up”. It definitely pays homage to how life used to be for him and then how far he has come. He tells Edna, his mother, how she is his motivation to keep going. Kaash Paige features on the final track ‘Cold’ which opens with a solid bassline, atmospheric instrumental and soft vocal FX. This one is about growing up, survival and the people around him. It’s a really raw song about how testing life is. Kaash Paige’s vocals add another layer to this track, breaking up song nicely.  

This album has so many amazing collaborations mixing genres, great production and looks at so many things from crime to money to love. Good for just listening, a car ride or gym session.