Review: 4i – Soul Rich
North London rapper 4i is back with the release of his latest EP ‘Soul Rich’. In 2013 he released his debut mixtape ‘Concrete Jungle Headhunters’ and has been building an underground buzz from performing across London. With help from producers DA and Karl Jackson and featuring artist Emily Terrel Frieburg, Latir Thakur and Xon, ‘Soul Rich’ is a message of enrichment, empowerment and love.
The first song ‘I Do’ features a smooth and relaxing beat; the guitar riff accentuated with the use of chimes gives an angelic vibe. The content is thoughtful as 4i touches on the purpose of humanity, creating a legacy, self-assurance and belief in God. His style is a cross between Bob Marley and Mos Def, but original and inventive. In an over saturated scene where money, exaggerated hardship and the degradation of women are common topics, 4i’s style is a breath of fresh air.
‘Midnight Moon’ is one of the best songs on the EP. The production handled by DA creates an atmosphere of the night; dreamy, mystical and enchanting like walking on sunset shores. The chemistry between DA and 4i is perfect, creating a natural and fresh sound. 4i raps “Free yourself or wait a long time because above them clouds there’s always sunshine” touching on unity, ethnic diversity and beauty. The chorus is infectious and unlike most rap songs that inspires the usual head bop; this will have the whole family dancing.
‘Soul Rich’ is the message of the EP and the lyrics that best is are “the true definition of wealth aint about how many cars you own, it’s all about your spirit, your soul, your health. In that case I’m a billionaire”. Most MCs labelled conscious or positive are stigmatised as boring and preachy but 4i is able to be positive and appealing.
My personal favourite is ‘Crowns’, the message and delivery of flow is perfect. The chorus “We are the Lord of Lords, Kings of Kings I was taught my imperfections was a sin/ Grew up thinking only royals where crowns til one day I looked in the mirror and guess just what I found” is a call for empowerment and self-love that can only be compared to reggae music and Bob Marley in his prime. When performed live the song is so moving that when the beat drops the crowd literally goes crazy. The lyrics touch on the educational system, his upbringing and the power of self-actualization. Towards the end, the sound transforms into drum and bass and 4i raps “We all want to be somebody even though we are somebody”.
On the Alicia Keys sampled ‘Butterflies’ 4i changes the tone of the EP and speaks on overcoming the fear of love. Latir Thakur adds an extra element to the song by singing slick background vocals. For the female audience, the song shows 4i is not a one dimensional artist. ‘Deep Space’ featuring Xon has a similar energy with 4i, rapping over a fast paste and energetic instrumental, exploring deep space and relationship problems.
On ‘Diamonds’ 4i raps a rhythmic flow over a light hearted beat, with hard hitting lyrics like “Diamonds always have it rough, that’s why you find them beneath the mud.” ‘Diamonds’ acts as an interlude and transition from the heartfelt and melodic ‘Butterflies’ in to the more rap and MC style heard on ‘4th Eye (Freestyle)’.
In a time of religious conflict, police brutality and meaningless music the message within ‘Soul Rich’ is what Hip Hop and the world needs. The musicality throughout is original, fresh, empowering and inspires happiness. As US rappers such as J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar release songs like ‘i’ and ‘Love Yourz’, ‘Soul Rich’ is ahead of its contemporaries. The production is of high quality, consistent and compliments 4i’s rapping and singing abilities. If 4i continues he will definitely be a force to be reckoned with. Download ‘Soul Rich’ at https://4iofficial.bandcamp.com/