Arguably the biggest and best rapper in Scotland, Loki comes at us with a ‘Trigger Warning’, his first album since 2014’s ‘Government Issue Music Protest (G.I.M.P)’. Any fan of Scottish hip-hop will know Loki’s work, but for those who don’t he has rose to prominence through his sharp lyricism, social commentary, and balls-out attitude.
A philosopher, a poet and a working-class hero, Loki has been involved in youth projects, charity work, and community-building missions. On top of all this he is, or has been, a radio broadcaster, a journalist, a rapper-in-residence and a documentary-maker. Prolific, altruistic and pro-active are words that easily describe this Pollock-born rapper, and he is clearly a huge influence on the Scottish music scene.
I have listened to his previous album a great many times, it is a masterpiece, an opus, a dystopian view of a lorn (not the sausage) Glasgow in an alternative future, and as far as concept albums go, it is a stroke of genius in the rap world. Its sinister feel, brutal and visceral philosophy, its well-delivered aggressive verses and intelligent metaphorical wordplay worthy of any sesquipedalian, all serve to make it a well-played selection on my turntable. GIMP was preceded by a b-sides album ‘Kill Your Darlings’ but after over two years the scene is more than ready for another slice of Loki’s felicitous, eccentric genius.
I receive a download version of ‘Trigger Warning’ with the instructions;
“You have received this preview link because you requested an advanced copy. In return, I want you to take an hour out of your day, put your headphones on, and listen to the project in its entirety – as one track. The album is an attempt to tell a story in the same way a book or a play would; characters, plot, narrative. It’s an exploration of the issues of the day, including nationalism, identity politics, masculinity and gender politics, told in two parts – Trigger Warning is part one.”
Fair enough, and that’s where you find me now, sedentary, hunched over the laptop, headphones in ears, Budweiser in hand, joint in the ashtray, ready for Loki to work his magic on my auricles with his “novel trapped in a music album”…
After trippy tribute intro ‘Forsindigo’ the album wastes no time establishing its dark vibe with ‘Escape Artist’ and Loki swaggers in with some heavy-hitting political poetry that weaves a dystopian tapestry for the first chapter, Loki has planted the flag with the opening track, Scotland is his…
The second chapter ‘Triggamortis’ is even more hard-hitting than the first, adopting an almost dubstep charge. Loki’s not ‘coming down off drugs he’s coming up on reality’ and he spits just that, the cold truth of the matter. I love the wheezy, electronic, hybrid of genres that backs Loki’s vitriolic diatribe in this one.
‘The Class Ceiling’ is a glorious gallimaufry of sounds with Loki weaving an entertaining narrative into the beats. ‘A Tale Of Two Cities’ is an observation of the class divide between the West End and the less affluent areas of the city, a melodious track that allows you to relax and fully soak in the gravity of the lyrics which are worthy of a work of literature by the descriptions and raconteurial flow. Loki’s book is in full flow by the fifth chapter, I’m enjoying an audio novel, with the added bonus of musical accompaniment, like if Irvine Welsh made hip-hop records.
The soundbites are well placed and create the environment for the characters at play. ‘Toys In The Hood’ is an intriguing beat, with Loki’s trigger-precision deliverance coruscating throughout it as he vituperates and disabuses his opponents, firing off verbal warnings like they were rounds from a semi-automatic. But unlike a lot of Scottish rappers his spiels are not holocryptic, but actually quite articulate.
With ‘Trigger Warning’, page after page, chapter after chapter, Loki delivers, poetry, comedy, wit, politics, social commentary and wordsmithery over a variety of eclectic tunage. Hitting bullseye after bullseye, the whole time telling a story that acts as a modern Dickens tale, as told in Glaswegian. Well-produced, carefully-constructed, Loki doesn’t do records he does concept albums, like the Pink Floyd of hip-hop, he doesn’t do tracks, he does chapters, this is definitely a contender for hip hop album of 2017, and is most certainly going to be the soundtrack to the summer, a real page-turner.
As I stub the roach and drain my second beer, as a valedictory I can say I’ve enjoyed every single song on this release, with no exception. I highly recommend it, not just to hip hop fans but to fans of good, innovative music anywhere. Loki’s at the top of his game right now, and this project is testament to that. The album launch is 7th April at The Art School, featuring Loki (of course) and superlative acts such as Yoko Pwno, The Twistettes, Wobbley Social and Mark McG&Windebank, flanked by a platoon of DJs in the form of Breezak, Dem Man Productions and The Three A Me Go’s (plus more TBA).
View original publication here: http://www.newhellfireclub.co.uk/news/2017/4/5/trigger-warning-by-loki-album-review-ct-herron