Glaswegian rapper MOG returns with a new album and like a fine wine (or Buckfast), it seems he is maturing into something quite remarkable.
Scottish hip-hop has seen very little of the UK spotlight, usually falling into two groups; either an artist with catchy melodies but mundane lyrics or one with brilliant lines and a promising flow but only the most rudimentary of beats.
For those not familiar with MOG, the 30-year-old is an Edinburgh-based emcee with a roster of rhymes so extensive you could listen for hours and never hear the same line twice. Finally gaining some widespread national recognition, his sixth album Chapter 8: The Conclusion finds the balance between catchy tunes and insightful lyrics that has evaded other artists and is his most measured effort to date.
Retaining his real accent, MOG brings a touching sentimentality to this record, with ‘Moovin On’ an all-too-real reflection on the perils of growing up and staking your place in the world. Chapter 8 doesn’t just tackle the issues of society; it wrestles them to the floor with powerful precision, shunning the usual ‘gangster’ approach of rappers such as Tinchy Strider and Taio Cruz.
The production values of the whole album are top quality, but it is on ‘Searchin’ where they really stand out, allowing the simplistic brilliance of the melody to shine through whilst MOG weaves linguistic circles around it. A fantastic sample, combined with the catchiest whistled tune since ‘Always Look on the Bright Side of Life’ provides the Glasgow-born artist with the perfect stage for his exceptional skills, combining cynicism with genuine hope.
MOG stands out for his adherence to the ethic of baring your soul through the microphone, a truly Scottish artist that has adopted and developed the traditional approach to hip-hop into his own inimitable style. The album also features several guests from the world of Scottish rhyme and spoken word, including Wardie Burns, an Edinburgh rapper with a similar love for earnest lyrics and alluring beats.
‘Nuthin’ Changes’ brings back memories of days in the park with nothing but a bottle of cheap cider to your name; a pitch-perfect diatribe to capture the frustrations of modern youth. Lines like “I think I’ll venture out this weekend on a hopeless rager, drink too much and tell my darkest secrets to a total stranger” may sound like a nihilistic affliction for self-sabotage in anyone else’s hands, but in MOG’s steady grasp they reflect the anger of an entire generation, refused the privileges of adulthood but simultaneously denied the joys of childhood.
Chapter 8: The Conclusion is so much more than just another hip-hop album; this could be a turning point not just for MOG himself but Scottish hip-hop as a whole. Despite the Glagsow-based Mobo awards, UK rap music is still London-centric in terms of exposure, with few people north of England’s capital finding the airtime they deserve.
Chapter 8 could be the drop that breaks the dam and finally sends Scottish hip-hop flooding into the mainstream. The album’s first track ‘Yes Yes Y’all’, is outstanding, especially in comparison to the likes of Professor Green and Maverick Sabre. The album is a response to the many flaws of this society, a visceral comment on modern ‘thug fashion’.
“It was just an attempt to chronicle some of the things I’ve seen, like all my writing” says MOG. “The album before Chapter 8 featured fourteen tracks, each two tracks making a chapter. I recorded that in the summer of 2010 and spent the rest of the year doing shows in Edinburgh.” He adds: “My life changed a lot that year so I wanted to start a new chapter, to mark that change”.
• MOG will be playing shows throughout this year’s Edinburgh Festival. For more information, visit glasgowmog.com
RADAR: SHOWCASING THE BEST NEW MUSIC IN SCOTLAND
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