Pa puts his ends firmly on the map with debut mixtape Send Them To Coventry.
Thanks to artists like Skepta and J Hus, embodying your African heritage has become a source of pride for U.K. artists who, especially at the turn of the millennium, saw their culture as inferior to their Caribbean counterparts. No artist this year has epitomised such nobility as Pa Salieu. Deriving from Gambia, but moving to Coventry at a young age, the wordsmith’s life has been far from ordinary.
Just a year ago, the Cov-native had to recover from being shot in the head outside a pub in his hometown. Since then, Salieu has become one of the most talked about artists in our country. This is a remarkable accolade considering, 12 months ago, he only had a handful of features and freestyles to his name.
And still, this year has created more obstacles for the rapper. He’s had to repeatedly fend off criticism for his alleged similarity to J Hus, who is also Gambian, to carve a lane of his own in such a saturated and senseless U.K. rap scene. If you watch or read any interview with the lyricist, this comparison is repeatedly drawn: read enough, and you'll cringe at the regularity of such banal journalism.
Just days into 2020, Pa had released the genre-blurring Frontline - a single that vividly depicts Coventry’s hidden gang warfare. We were blessed, a matter of months later, with Betty and Bang Out; two tracks that elevated his genre defying dexterity and solidified himself as a one to watch for the rest of 2020. Then came My Family - a collaboration with the equally exciting Backroad Gee, who is also in touch with his African roots. Their restless deliveries go back-to-back over an industrial afro-swing beat, crooning words of loyalty in a contagious and oddly cathartic manor.
Which then brings us to Send them to Coventry, Pa Salieu’s debut mixtape. 15 songs play out over 38 minutes, epitomising the various aesthetics that have put him on the tip of every critic's tongue. Throughout the project, Salieu switches between snarling vocals, melodic autotune and restless rhymes, which draw parallels between his life on ends and success in the music industry.
From the ghastly off-kiltered percussion on T.T.M to the bleak, crackling melodies of No Warnin’, the soundscape’s explored on S.T.T.C make for an alluring listen. Features from Boy Boy, M1llionz and many more add to the tape’s disparate, boundary-less qualities and justifies the project’s lengthy nature.
Despite such incredulous times, if you are a fan of British music, you can believe in Pa Salieu being one of the most intriguing outfits our country has to offer. S.T.T.C is, at moments, raw and unrefined, but this creates more thrills than it does discourage you from listening.
LISTEN TO SEND THEM TO COVENTRY BELOW
Written by Liam Cattermole