On his first solo project in two years, the rapper reinforces why he's at the forefront of the hip-hop revolution in these parts.
On the opening lines of the titular track and lead single from PsychoYP’s latest EP Euphoria, the Abuja-native raps: “I remember back in ‘016 tryna pattern up studio / Didn’t have bricks then, now I’m looking at 02 Brixton.” While many listeners might casually pass it off as regular braggadocio or casual fanfaronade that’s accustomed to YP himself or hip-hop in general, those lines are testament to how far his indisputable talent has brought him: a kid from the heart of the country’s capital to the consciousness of many and an ever-expanding fanbase.
When a then-19-year-old PsychoYP released his debut YPSZN in 2018, he attracted attention almost immediately. His self-assured cadence, boisterous energy, machine-gun flows and larger-than-life persona were rather special, at least in these parts. His ability to meld cut-throat bars with soulful melodies, slicing through thunderous synths, pop production, and soft chimes with relative ease quickly earmarked him as one to watch. On the second installment of YPSZN, which arrived a year after the first, he expanded his sonic palette, incorporating Afropop elements with his usual trap-rap style and accommodating a wider range of guest appearances. However, the result isn’t as smooth as it could have been, with a good number of the songs lacking the vim that massively carried its predecessor.
Euphoria feels like a return to form for the 23-year-old rapper. It’s compelling how authoritative and versatile he sounds, gliding effortlessly over boisterous basslines, syncopated percussions and spine-tingling strings. On “+234 (Daily Paper), he’s slipping in and out of different flows over a menacing grime beat. “I know they hate that I’m famous / I know they hate cus I’m blessed / Starboy I make daily paper,” he raps, acknowledging the haters but paying them no mind. On “Guapane$e”, he raps a mean hook over Remy Baggins’ bubbly drums. He’s joined by South East London rapper Rasstokyo who delivers witty punchlines like, “My side ting go bi now cos my main ting switch lanes / Unlike me but I’m likely to fuck both of them same day”. Trill Tega also plain sails over the beat, delivering clever one-liners of his own to make “Guapne$e” an infectious banger.
“Big Moves”, the opener is buoyed by riotous productions. It’s frantic, featuring a barrage of cascading basslines, vibrant synths and a piercing guitar riff. “6 Feet Deep”, on the other hand, is mellow, incorporating acoustic elements. Here, YP delivers yet another infectious hook – something that he does with so much ease – leaving room for the King of the Wolves Alpha P and South African rapper PatrickxxLee to deliver complementary verses that make the track an enthralling listen. “Smoke 4 Free” sees YP at his most confident. He makes his brags so believable with his glistening, hyper-clear enunciation and assertiveness. “Heard somebody tryna fuck with my slate / And I don’t wanna talk too much right now so bring me his head on a plate / And the mandem know I’m serious serious / Coming like BBK,” he raps, sounding like Wilson Fisk in a recording booth.
“Industry N****S” addresses gatekeepers and music industry politics. In a rare moment of vulnerability YP raps “Ain’t nobody done it how I did it last year / Shoulda been the top scorer overall,” expressing his feelings of underappreciation. Still, picks his head up: “But nigga work hard / My nigga just strive.” YP has an unmatched combination of hard work and talent, and he’s well aware. That’s what has earned him a fast-growing audience and made him one of the most sought-after rappers around. He has definitely made a long journey from the young boy who couldn’t get a recording session – one that involves three solo works and four collaborative tapes – but he’s here now, delivering time and time again. Undoubtedly, the only way for YP is up.