Wretch 32 – real name Jermaine Scott – first burst into the charts in January with super-catchy Traktor. His sound is grimy, his lyrics slick (my lifestyle’s terribly wild/but you’ll never catch me on the Jeremy Kyle show – Traktor is a favourite) and his friends the hottest stars (Example, Professor Green, Chipmunk, Ed Sheeran to name a few). So Black and White held a lot of promise.
The 15-track album has a total of 10 collaborations, which some might argue is a lot, but it’s a technique which has worked for the likes of Timbaland, Jay Z and Mark Ronson. And to say the least, it works in the favour of Wretch.
The highest-charting song from the album, Unorthodox, features Example and is the best track on the CD. But not by much. There are plenty of infectious beats, contagious choruses and witty lyrics. Sane Is the New Mad follows in the vein of Traktor, and I’m Not the Man (featuring Chipmunk and Angel) is definite single material. Heartfelt and refreshingly honest, it’s an autobiographical tale, which sounds a bit like Dre’s I Need A Doctor but is contextually entirely different.
Most albums have a narrative sewing each track together – be it heartbreak, struggle, anger or hope, but not Black and White. It covers the aforementioned bases and then some. Forgiveness is a bleakly honest look at Wretch’s self, Traktor (catchy as it is) is actually about a man talking to his father about his wild, misguided youth, and Please Don’t Let Me Go is a song about trying to avoid a break-up.
There’s definitely something for everyone on Black and White, from chilled out happy raps, to angry, noisy bass-led beats, all told through 15 different stories. In all there are about 12 tracks on the album worth another listen or two, which isn’t bad going. A must have for music lovers whose collection includes the likes of Chipmunk, Tinchy Stryder, Example, Tinie Tempah and Professor Green.
With a stellar effort like Black and White, I’d be very surprised if Wretch 32 isn’t in possession of armful of awards this time next year.