Tion Wayne: Green With Envy review – a bid for rap’s top table

·2 min read

Girls, gangs, guns, Edmonton Green: Tion Wayne (Dennis to his mum) is the ladies’ hard man who boasts about boning as much as he does defending the block. Previously best known for making Afrobeats and hip-hop, alongside Russ Millions the 28-year-old went to number one in the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand this summer with his lascivious drill track Body, the first of that hotly debated rap genre to do so. Then he jumped on a remix of labelmate Ed Sheeran’s current chart-topper, Bad Habits. Now Wayne’s new album attempts to marry all those styles with pop ambitions: “Try’na get my life straight from the jail … Try’na have the same cake as Adele,” as he puts it here.

Related: Rapper Tion Wayne: ‘Police don’t want us to win, they want us in jail’

Often it’s a jarring pick’n’mix. The smooth, sax-driven Afropop of Loyal, with NSG, and 4 Life, with Afro B, sit next to Wow, a punchy drill whopper. But Wayne is on to something with his blend of the bleak and the bouncy, as on Wid It, with Brightonion teen ArrDee, which rivals Cardi B’s WAP for lewdness, or standout Make It Out – like a UK answer to late-90s west coast G-funk, where guests Joe Black, Scorcher, Rimzee and Potter Payper trade reflective lines about music and street life.

There isn’t much space for introspection until the penultimate Homecoming, on which Wayne details life after prison (he doesn’t mention that he went to jail in 2017 for his involvement in a mass brawl) and his mother’s battles with cancer. Despite being his fourth sizable release, this feels like the album that, if it doesn’t turn his peers green with envy, could at least take Wayne to UK rap’s top table.

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