Babyfather - BBF Hosted By DJ Escrow

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  • "I remember my man said, 'Don't waste time doing a crime if it's already been done.' Do you know how real that is?" muses DJ Escrow partway through Babyfather's debut album. "That's why I'm here, you know? Not just to play tunes but to show man certain things." He seems to be warming to his instructive theme, but then he loses interest. "Ah, I'm chatting too much shit, just play that fucking tune." It's not clear who DJ Escrow is—a friend of Dean Blunt's or a persona, an unknown London musician or a parody of one—but his plucky presence is at the centre of Babyfather. BBF, which follows a string of online mixtapes from the project, is presented like a pirate radio show (complete with grotty distortion, as if it's been recorded to tape), and Escrow is the host. He shouts out listeners, gives the studio's phone number, asks for requests and occasionally raps. It sounds like his voice has been pitched up, and his boyish bluster is often entertaining. (After a disastrous attempt at a freestyle on "Platinum Cookies," he reminds us: "Wiley used to be a fucking shit MC, yeah, and then he got sick.") As the album progress, his asides get increasingly theoretical, touching on London's postcode politics ("Escrow 2," "Message") and immigrant identity ("Stealth"). Escrow is the embodiment of Blunt's new project, which ditches the confessional indie of The Redeemer and Black Metal in search of a crime that hasn't been done. Yes, there are hints of the Hype Williams prankster: the Union Jack-adorned hoverboard on the cover, the obnoxious patriotic soundbite slapped on the three versions of "Stealth," the grizzled blasts of noise in "PROLIFIC DAEMONS" and "Flames." "God Hour," featuring Mica Levi, might be an offcut from Black Metal. But the album as a whole is a step forward for Blunt. Though the music isn't his most gripping, he's never achieved such a powerful synthesis of sound, concept and character. Many tracks are trudging hip-hop or digi-dub loops, cut with deafening police sirens or audio clips hinting at conflict and petty crime. The depiction of innercity life is vivid. Over the sour strings in "Esco Freestyle," Blunt plays the amateur coke dealer who got cold feet. "Every nigga want a good time," he mutters. "I'm trying to find mine." Then there's the weight of family responsibility: a baby cries in Arca collab "Meditation," Escrow seeks refuge from his "babymother" in the studio on "Escrow." On "HELLS ANGLES," just after Escrow has considered ringing an ex to apologise, a woman shouts, "You're always getting sucked into shit… Take your shit and stay at your mum's house." A queasy beat fades in, and Blunt, in his most ominous voice, raps, "You know him, the nigga with the gat / Wanna see you at the back of the flats over there, by the corner." The outlook is bleak. On the moody "N.A.Z.," Blunt asks, "What you gonna do when you're done getting high?" But the chirpy Escrow tries not to let it get him down. You grow to like him, which is a strange thing to say about such a cryptic character on such a knotty album. It helps that he shows a vulnerable side. The album's emotional peak is another Arca collaboration, the heavy-hearted "Deep." Escrow attempts a few bars halfway through, but he sounds like a boy out of his depth, drowning in weepy string chords. "I feel it in my chest now / All the pain…," he says, and so do we.
  • Tracklist
      01. Stealth Intro 02. Greezebloc 03. Meditation feat. Arca 04. Escrow 05. Shook 06. Motivation 07. PROLIFIC DAEMONS 08. Platinum Cookies 09. Esco Freestyle 10. Stealth 11. God Hour feat. Mica Levi 12. N.A.Z 13. Juice 14. HELLS ANGLES 15. Killuminatti 16. Escrow 2 17. Deep feat. Arca 18. Escrow 3 19. The Realness 20. Flames 21. Snm feat. Arca 22. Stealth Outro 23. Message