The past couple of months have seen Bawo land heavy-hitting verses for everyone from Louis Culture to Ayrtn and MiniKingz to Mally; an array of equally talented wordsmiths who share the artist's undeniable trajectory to the top. Potent and prolific, Bawo’s lyricism has been unavoidable in 2022, and with several self-released singles dropping consistently throughout the year, the rapper is finally getting the recognition he merits.
The West-Londoner is organically rising through the ranks, evading ambiguous algorithms thanks to a cult-like following, who share an appreciation for his laidback lyrical style and flexible flows. Last year, he dropped his debut EP, ‘Live and Let Thrive’, which explores the dichotomy of success and self-doubt with an unrivaled assuredness. Taking inspiration from genres as disparate as afrobeats and garage, and baile funk and drill, the artist’s discography explores London’s musical diaspora and accentuates his ability to tailor his bars to numerous sounds.
In this proliferous musical era for Bawo, here are five of our favourite features from him – ranked in order of greatness.
5. Osquello ft Bawo – No Scene
Back in 2019, when Bawo started to establish himself beyond the realms of Soundcloud, Osquello enlisted his free-flowing, conscious verses for a fiery feature on ‘No Scene’. The bars are at their most metaphoric, as Bawo references Jeff Hardy’s signature WWE moves to describe his inner-feelings and reflect on the streets around him.
4. Louis Culture ft Bawo – 7AM
The first single from Culture’s forthcoming project, ‘7AM’ sees the wordsmiths go back-to-back, relaying tails of early morning graft and hustle in the big smoke. There’s an elegant swagger to Bawo’s delivery that epitomises the nonchalant rap style his fans and fellow collaborators crave on a track. It’s one of his more sincere features, matching the tone LC presents through his own lyrical imagery.
3. Nikhil Beats ft Ayeisha Raquel & Bawo – Honey
Swimming in Nikhil Beats’ latin shuffles, barely rising for air as he switches flows, ‘Honey’ illustrates Bawo’s versatile penmanship. The rapper tells us to ‘wait’ before rendezvousing with a silky delivery, which addresses love and lust in equal measure. The sporadic trap production enforces a crisp rhyme palette from the artist, who also harmonises with fellow feature Ayeisha Raquel.
2. Ayrtn ft Bawo – LI’L ZÉ & BENNY
Direct and dynamic, Bawo’s delivery on ‘LI’L ZÉ & BENNY’ matches Ayrtn’s intergalactic trap production perfectly. The multifaceted artist hands Bawo the first verse, which is a credit to the lyrical impact he naturally has on tracks. Bewildering wordplay and flow switches ride the song’s abrasive production as the artists go back-and-fourth, spitting braggadocios bars to each other.
1. Changing Currents ft Bawo – Advantage Love
'Advantage Love’ encompasses everything we’ve come to admire about Bawo. Unequivocally delivering sentiments of adoration and intimacy, he embellishes Changing Current’s intoxicating afrobeats with an assured and open vulnerability. It also features the artist’s most infectious hook, as he chants ‘game, set, match; game, set, match with a charming slur.
Listen to the list and let us know if you agree or disagree with our order. Check back for more news on Bawo in the new year, who's gearing up to release his second EP 'Legitimate Cause'.
Words Liam Cattermole (@liam_cattermole)
Photo Ned Collyer (@nedcollyer)