‘I’ve heard more than a couple riddims all seven Tunnel Visions, and I would just like to say, you can take three of the best from each, put ‘em together and I bet it’s not better than Freedom of Speech…’
If Wiley did this, there probably wouldn’t be a lot between them.
The Tunnel Vision compilation is now available, but that’s what it is - a compilation, a gathering of certain tracks that don’t have the collective unity of a particular mixtape, unlike Ghetto’s third solo release, ‘Freedom of Speech’. Such unity is characterised by a Ghetto that is far cry from the mellower J. Clarke on ‘Ghetto Gospel’, with a gritty content allied with beats only provided by Lewi White and Smasher. In such conditions, as well as Ghetto being in his arguably best persona, Ghetto stays true to his mixtape title and what follows is very much an example of ‘Freedom of Speech’.
The CD gets off to a familiar start in ‘Commandments’, a track that has enjoyed much airplay from Logan Sama’s Kiss show and pirate radio stations. On this tune, ‘Lewi is cold’, a trend that continues as the mixtape progresses, and this relatively laid back track serves as a contrast to a GH that is truly all-out in the dark, gritty, and graphic tracks that shortly follow, such as ‘Darkside Freestyle’, ‘Threats’, and ‘Buss 1’. Ghetto holds it up on the freestyle, even if the bars may be familiar, and he calls upon MCs Griminal and Brutal for ‘Threats’ whose token contributions, while still contributing well enough to the track, don’t quite match Ghetto breathlessly going back to back on microphone with Devlin in what could be seen as the mixtape’s highlight. Even Mercston manages to wriggle his way into proceedings via his Orange connection at the end of one of the most played hits from the mixtape, ‘Mountain’. The excerpts from phone calls emphasise the CD’s stress on freedom of speech, and they can also be heard on one of the most praised songs on the mixtape, ‘Convo with a Cabby’, as well as on ‘Threats’.
The ‘angry’ Ghetto certainly takes centre stage, but it would be wrong to suggest that there is a lack of versatility on this release. The dubstep-like beat of ‘What It Takes’ proves welcome after the intensity of the more hype tracks, and the ‘I’m Ghetts Remix’ (featuring Chipmunk) is a slower track, taking the focus away from the roads. There is hip hop too, but its done well by a more mature Ghetto from ‘2000 and Life’, giving the CD another aspect to it, as well as bringing out a different side to Ghetto’s style of spitting. The contrast is also lyrical; the Ghetto who has something to say also comprises the conscious, with good concepts and, towards the end, tracks such as ‘Brothers with Arms’ and ‘How It Is’ bring into focus wider problems that contribute to Ghetto’s fundamental identity on ‘Freedom of Speech’.
For a release that has been widely pushed in commercial stores, and one that followed ‘Ghetto Gospel’, it is admirable that Ghetto has said everything he wants to say, and more in a true instance of ‘real talk’, creating a grime mixtape that is diverse yet of high quality, and portraying the genre’s energy as well as the undeniable talent that it can call its own.
The ‘skippy-flow man’ has thrown down the gauntlet, and put more than a decent claim to the throne with a release that is one of the best to emerge from the grime scene. Go and support.