ABRA CADABRA - PRODUCT OF MY ENVIRONMENT (MIXTAPE REVIEW)
I still remember that BlackBox freestyle back in 2016 like yesterday. The first instrumental, what we now know as ‘Robbery’, had almost everyone around me thinking that Abra Cadabra was a yardman from Jamaica.
This gained massive traction and gained attention from Krept & Konan, in which a remix was made and changed the trajectory of Abra Cadabra’s music career. The second part of the freestyle resonated with me the most as he used various flows and touched on various topics, from his hometown (Tottenham), his personal life and relationships with friends. From 2016 to 2017, he was continuously putting out music and done many features, with my favourite being the one his collaboration with Sneakbo entitled ‘My Hood’.
Although Abra Cadabra was releasing tunes in 2018 and 2019, they were seldom dropped. His first project, the ‘Feature Boy’ EP, had some good tracks (in my opinion) but did not attract the masses as greatly as he did with ‘Robbery’. This made many think that Abra was fading as quickly as he came. He shut those thoughts down with a strong Daily Duppy freestyle towards the end of 2018. However it seemed people forgot about this going into 2019 making that year also generally quiet for him. Going into 2020, it seemed Abra had something strategically planned as he released an EP (Love Or Lust), collaborated with associates OFB and released a series of hard-hitting singles including ‘Baby’, ‘Cadabra Freestyle’, ‘On Deck’, all which by now you should know as they’ve been making serious waves. It’s all led up to this point: the ‘Product Of My Environment’ mixtape.
‘Product Of My Environment’ opens up with ‘Trenches’. Abra Cadabra talks about coming from the bottom whilst living the street life in Tottenham. Despite all the madness he’s witnessed, he’s convinced he and his friends will see better days (“I tell my bruddas don’t worry / I got a strong feeling we gon’ make it). The call at the end of the song tells us what to expect throughout the mixtape as his friend says “he’s singing, he’s rapping, he’s drilling”.
Anytime Kush (OFB) and Abra Cadabra link up, you know the track is going to be hard. From ‘War’, ‘The Roads’ and their Valentine’s Day tracks, they always deliver. Kush features on ‘How We Living’ and the pair go back to back on the instrumental, which seems to take on oriental inspiration from Eastern Asia. Abra admits that sometimes he doesn’t know why he lives the way he does, but sometimes he can find himself in a vulnerable position as he sings “to be safe, I got to pick my gun up”. The succeeding song, ‘Usual’, also tells the harsh realities of growing up where he’s from like in ‘Trenches’ (“Stabbings and shootings that’s just the usual”). At the same time, he sends out a message to the younger ones who are at a crossroads in life about the truth of the road life (“Don’t look for trouble, keep your mind right, don’t get brought up in a cubicle”). You’d think your friends will be there for you whenever you need them, but the streets don’t discriminate and owes nothing to no-one (“Bro this game ain’t got rules your best friend will watch you drop”). A light reminder to make the best decision for you.
‘On Deck’ is easily one of the best tracks to come out of the UK in 2020. Abra unlocks a different kind of energy as he aggressively flows over a fierce drill instrumental, but he does this tactically as he left his listeners with a unique chorus to remember ( “I got bare girl round, jiggy jiggy on deck/ In North London, jiggy jiggy on deck/ In