- The Liverpudlian lyricist delivers raw street commentary.
- One of Liverpool's foremost rappers, Aystar epitomizes the value of the UK's diverse regional rap scenes. Delivered in scouse dialect and focused on day-to-day urban narratives, his third Scousematic tape is characteristically dynamic. Features from UK rap heavyweights like Giggs, Digga D and Youngs Teflon show how far Aystar has come. A collection of casual and authentic stories, the mixtape blends various styles, using beats from producers like Nastylgia, Diztortion and Flyo. Aystar flickers seamlessly between hard-hitting narratives and light-hearted humour, incorporating elements of hip-hop, drill and rap. This lyrical and stylistic versatility is what makes Scousematic 3 so engaging.
Named "Sinbad" after a character in the Liverpool-based '80s soap opera Brookside, the tape's opening track underlines Aystar's commitment to local ties. Lines like, "It's like 9:15 and I'm up smoking green / How the hell am I expecting this day to go well?" show his easygoing approach. On "Wats Apenin'," he effortlessly delivers streams of casual chatter, as if he's simply nattering with the listener. Chunky, stabbed piano notes provide the backdrop for vivid images of inner-city life. Echoing TLC, he raps: "I'm banned now so I'm back taxi surfing or hanging out the passenger side of one of my best friends' rides, tryna holla at your girlfriend / But I ain't a scrub."
The mixtape's most notable collaborations include "Stepped In," a link-up with pioneering Peckham rapper Giggs, and "Get In That Jeep," which features eminent young drill rapper Digga D. The latter sees Digga offer sharp wordplay: "They move like Tony, see man's Hawk start skate on the pavement / They say D too evil, spell it / You might as well call man Satan." On "Stepped In," a stomping, strings-led hip-hop instrumental is intersected by Giggs' baritone and Aystar's cheeky flows.
For all this album's strengths, "Disrespectful" is a dispiriting demonstration of some of UK rap's worst sexist tropes. Crammed with lazy misogynistic attitudes that reflect the track's title, the collab with Aydoe Soul is driven by the hook "You ever had them tings that are just disrespectful? / One of them that can give good brains, but she's not intellectual... She should be in the kitchen cooking up the beans and the eggs, still". Such medieval gender attitudes let down the lyrical content of this mixtape. Increasing numbers of rappers are rejecting this type of casual sexism. Hopefully Aystar's ongoing progression will prompt a similar development.
Thankfully, "Let's Go Trap" gets Scousematic 3 back on track. A captivating chiming melody is accompanied by a sparse, tight beat that allows South London rapper Youngs Teflon to leave his mark. "Let's Go Trap" is stylish and punchy, luring you in with incisive rhythmic soundscapes. It's one of those tracks you'll find yourself nodding along to before its three minutes are up, at which point a replay is inevitable.
Aystar begins "Straight In" by stating: "There's no hook for this one, I'm going straight in / And all these other rappers' mixtapes can get thrown in the bin". Driven by a dark plucked string refrain, this track's directness and slick lyricism encapsulates the mixtape's no-nonsense, hard-hitting tone. Witty, engaging and tightly polished, Scousematic 3 highlights the Liverpudlian rapper's progress.
02. In and Out feat. Ay Em & Diztortion
03. Stepped In feat. Giggs
05. Trap Mode
06. Disrespectful feat. Aydoe Soul
07. Let's Go Trap feat. Flyo & Youngs Teflon
08. Gully With It
09. Get In That Jeep feat. Digga D
10. Wats Apenin'
12. Straight In
13. The Drop feat. Kyze