The London rapper’s updated portfolio wrestles with pain and stories of racial difficulty.
With appearances from Ghetts, DarkoVibes and his cousin Michaela Cole, Guvna B’s latest release is a rhyme fest of the highest regard, full of spirited flows and expertly crafted storytelling.
Guvna B, real name Isaac Borquaye, releases his latest album following an unprovoked attack in August of 2021. As he returned from buying his morning coffee, the rapper was confronted by three white males standing at his car. The two-time MOBO award winner was punched in the face leaving him with an eye injury and was scolded with hot coffee. He reported the incident to police, though the case was closed down shortly after. The Metropolitan Police told him that a lack of leads forced them to do so, but a violent assault of this nature requires greater investigation, with the assailant’s actions a potential risk to the public.
In England, racially motivated hate crime jumped by 19% between 2021 to 2022 from 92,063 to 109,843 as revealad by the Office of National Statistics’ report on Hate crime, England and Wales, 2021 to 2022.
This leads us to Borquaye’s latest offering in the shape of The Village Is On Fire, a recollection of the pain and angst such trauma leaves behind. With unanswered questions about not only his experience but others, it is no wonder mistrust towards police amongst people of colour is at an all-time high.
U Get Me, is one of my favourite listings from the album, but there is more to unpack here as Guvna ploughs into all manner of subjects. On Traffic, he delivers a testimony to the worries he has for his son and daughter, and how the community plays a part in raising them, a big influence perhaps on the title of his album inspired by the proverb ‘it takes a village’. Traffic is a song we can all relate to, not only as parents but having lived through a system where we, as people of colour, find it difficult to progress. Guvna B explains: “I wrote ‘Traffic’ after thinking about the kind of world my three-year-old son and newborn daughter are going to grow up in. As a young father, you want to set your kids up to win and education is a big part of that.”
Borquaye not only displays his sense of penmanship, but his skill in dispatching every element of what he verbalises word for word, hypnotically charging the listener to hold on until he is done. Unlike other rappers, who perhaps think of either the content or how it is transmitted, Guvna B slams home both to a high degree of quality. This is not someone who wants to create for the sake of identity and social clout, The Village Is On Fire is a creation by someone who has produced from experience, harvesting every influence he can find with master strokes we will all be discovering later on down the line.
Ultimately, Guvna slaps home a variety of musical tastes, and this Friday gone has been a win for music lovers, especially Hip-Hop heads who are looking for quality over theatrical gimmicks. But I implore you to look beyond this album and seek the main influence for what this album is about and the conversations it seeks to inspire.