What Do You Mean You Don’t Listen to Scorcher?
This week we saw North London’s own Scorcher join Kenny Allstar over at Mixtape Madness for his first Mad About Bars freestyle; and it was a serious performance to say the least. it's a platform that has seen crossovers like Digdat and Loski as well as underground talents like M Huncho, but Scorcher shows us that when it comes to a quick freestyle, you're catching him in his territory.
For a genre that is constantly criticsed for being lacking lyrcically, Scorcher pushes the levels while making his entry into the genre feel natural, and not forced. But is he getting the shine he deserves, not only for this freestyle, but for the quiet run he’s been on since his release last year?
For this edition of What Do You Mean You Don’t Listen To, I’m breaking down Scorcher and reminding you why it’s a problem if he dabbles in drill.
You haven’t heard of Scorcher?
Scorcher first came to my attention on early features and remixes; classics like Private Caller and not-so-classics like She Likes To. But Scorcher, aka Skywalker, or even Top Boy S1’s Kamale, has proven that in verse after verse, he’s not your average rapper. He's definitely cut from the same cloth as the elites; the Skeptas and the Ghetts' of Grime and UK Rap.
Scorcher for me has always been an underrated, but an overachieving MC. He was never as popular or as highly regarded as his fellow Movement members, Ghetts and Wretch 32, but he’s just as capable when it comes to bars. And not just bars - he’s a project artist with a number of albums and tapes under his belt, dabbling in rap, grime, trap, pop, and now drill.
He’s said it best in one of his infamous freestyle bars - ‘Hip hop or garage, you choose but you lose’.
Scorcher’s talent is that he can enter any arena and outdo anyone. He’s a rappers’ rapper and an MC’s MC. So naturally, he’s never been a stranger to a good diss track. Way before Wiley and Stormzy, Scorcher added Dappy to a list of opponents that includes Jammer, Frisco, Wiley and Roachee. This was a time when Dappy was separating himself from N Dubz and reestablishing a rap career with his Tarzan freestyles - but Scorcher ruthlessly dismantles him over a surprisingly poppy beat and put a firm footprint on his whole career. If you need to know about Scorcher, this isn’t his first diss, or his last, (as a controversial and censored daily duppy freestyle proved) but it’s definitely one of the most memorable.
'work get it' comes from Scorcher’s last full length project, 1 of 1. It saw Scorcher and two more Movement members Wretch and Mercston go back to back over a smooth, but uplifting electronic beat. The song is about being on the grind and enjoying the fruits of your labour but it's so well executed it deserves a mention. The beat is constantly evolving and the video features a panoramic view that separates itself from your average rap video.
The whole project is just as well done, with bangers like 'Lord', and slower, more melodic songs like ‘No One Else’, showing that Scorcher can put together an album that feels like it should be on a physical copy.
The last standout song is Could Be Worse, Scorcher’s first song back after being released. he came back and he did it properly. The beat is cold, with a rising and falling bass and some haunting vocal melodies that Scorcher just goes blind over. His flow is ridiculous, and for his comeback song, he sets the bar and expectations very high.
I was never going to do this article and not mention this song. Scorcher takes the JME classic (which has been freestyled to death at this point) and makes every other version sound like an impression. Coming from the equally hard Audio Wave mixtape (with other bangers like 'That’s Right' with Sincere and 'League of Our Own'), Scorcher opens the tape up with 96 bars laced with punchlines and flow changes that reminds you what elite rapping sounds like. it would be tough to dissect this song lyrically but if you listen to any song, listen to this one, and listen very closely.
the skinny sort remix comes from The Movement’s classic 'Tempo Specialists' mixtape. It’s a tape that puts the grime scene’s most lyrical rappers on the same tune as they push each other to compete for the best verse. The crazy thing about the mixtape is that you can feel the competitive energy on it, with steel sharpening steel for the length of each song. I picked this song though because it sounds like a drill song nearly 10 years before it ever even existed.
The dark, lurking piano melody, the grimey drums and Scorcher’s promise that ‘you’ll need more than an ice pack when you get touched with an ice pick’ all gave me the same feeling an old 67 or 150 song would. It may not be the familiar hi hat patterns and 808 glides we’re used to, but it shows that Scorcher knows about how to do drill and he didn’t need to hear Headie first.
I mentioned that Scorcher’s an overachiever didn’t I? Well as well as being a rapper in a classic crew and an actor in a classic show, he’s been a producer on a classic mixtape too. Bashy may be the one rapping here but Scorcher laces him with a banger of a rap beat for the Chupa Chups mixtape.
If those songs haven’t convinced you not to sleep on Scorcher nothing will. I didn’t get a chance to really go into his freestyles or his more recent output like gargoyle or 9, but these few tracks show Scorcher at his best and his wide range when it comes to music.
The Movement may be done but I still feel that all drama aside, we have definitely not seen the best of Scorcher - but when he drops his next project we may be in for a real reminder.