Review: ‘Plug Talk’

The British–American compilation is a mix of average trap collaborations and lucrative gems that bridge the gap between the two scenes.

There was a time when the UK rap scene strived to gain acknowledgement from its American equivalent. An English rapper has never truly broken into the US market, yet acts like Calvin Harris, Ellie Goulding and Ella Mai have established themselves as international artists. But then streaming came and the UK scene sprouted legs and formed a life of its own. It no longer needed the support of an American when there was a sea of markets all across Europe waiting to be conquered. However, when one of the biggest artist of the world is calling upon UK rappers to feature on his mixtape, surely the UK is doing something right?

These moments have led to Plug Talk, a collection of songs featuring British and American rappers of the modern era, compiled by The Plug Records. With that in mind, there’s not much to dive into about Plug Talk. Its quality lies purely in replay value, beat selection and great hooks.

True to the nature of a compilation, Plug Talk is an assorted mix of hits and tracks that simply lack chemistry.

It takes careful executive direction to create a memorable, timeless song with artists who do not know each other. A handful of Plug Talk works, using beats that compliment the styles of the artists on the songs. “Broken Homes” with Nafe Smallz, M Huncho and Gunna executives this perfectly through its guitar-led production. All three artists compliment the song equally, each providing a memorable performance. M Huncho’s raspy voice provides a contrast to the Auto-Tune of Smallz and Gunna. There’s chemistry thanks to the shared Rolex line, indirectly communicating with each other through their verses.

Often, the British performers outperform their American counterparts. D-Block Europe shine on “Tell the Truth” to the point where Rich The Kid’s verse is a mere afterthought. The pitched-up vocal sample in the beat is a breath of fresh air from the heavy trap percussion of the album, making for an enjoyable D-Block Europe song rather than a enjoyable collaborative song.

The pairings make sense on every track but don’t always result in the best of songs. Trappers (“Ain’t Like That”), drillers (“Tommy & Ghost”) and melodic crooners (“How It Is”) all join forces for collaborations that fit well on paper, however the artists feel distant from one another on the same track. It’s moments like these where one can quite literally picture the North Atlantic Ocean that separates the States from the United Kingdom. Little details such as having the US artists adlib over the English verses would easily increase chemistry for moments that feel like the US artist is phoning in their verse to secure the bag.

Easily the biggest surprise of the compilation is closing track “Telescope”. The hypnotic trap cut features up-and-coming artist Anine, alongside Polo G and Swarmz. Anine easily steals the show, pulling off the hook and verse like a true mumble crooner would. This song can easily be overshadowed as it doesn’t have the sort of big names like the rest of the album but deserves to be applauded.

Plug Talk could easily have fallen to the trap of a typical DJ Khaled album with unbearable messes cluttered front to back. There’s care for the artists put together, even if it doesn’t amount to the most memorable song.

Rating: 7 / 10

Favourite tracks: “Broken Homes”, “Telescope”, “Tell the Truth”

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