Review: ‘Street Side Effects’

The drill rapper’s debut album maintains his integrity, eliminating the risks to unmistakably satisfy his fanbase.

It took a while to get here, but there is finally money to be made from UK rap. And despite the efforts of authorities, UK drill has continued its mainstream ascension. Regardless of the anonymity, K-Trap was the face of drill, achieved through mixtapes such as The Last Whip and The Re-Up. K-Trap shed the semblance in 2019 and embarked on a new chapter of his career. Street Side Effects is looking to make a statement in the sea of albums released by UK rappers in 2020, particularly for those who have questioned K-Trap’s trajectory post-mask.

On Street Side Effects, K-Trap thwarts the critics by sticking to his style and sound, even if it is to the detriment of risk opportunity.

The trapper with a silent ‘t’ freshens up his catalogue by taking a self-examining avenue. From the album title down to the prescription cover art, K-Trap makes it a mission to confess the pills that are hard to swallow. It is all achieved while maintaining his integrity, whether that be through his signature annunciated flow or the production that never succumbs to commercial demands.

Do not be mistaken, the odes to the traphouse are here in abundance. Single “Whip that Work” charges through a powerful hook and the usual warping 808s. “The Re-Up 2” flips the beat of the original to hit home the fact Trapo’s never changed. The chemistry of K-Trap and Blade Brown returns on “Probably” that is evidently a homegrown hit. D-Block Europe, M1llionz, Abra Cadabra and Wretch 32 also contribute standout appearances. Tracks like these still play to the theme of the album without breaking the fourth wall.

But K-Trap ensures he gets reflective. The title track calmly sets the scene, with lines like “Half a brick to the left but what’s right for me?” striking the listener, simply spoken but bold in its statements. It is incredibly pensive for K-Trap’s standards, a trait which carries onto plenty other tracks (“Fearless”, “Lessons”, “Story of My Life”). Moments like these truly individualises Street Side Effects from K-Trap’s previous releases.

The lines between trap beats and drill beats do get blurred, with the former tending to dominate the track listing. But when K-Trap is in drill mode it is prototypically explosive (“Just Cool”). Whichever style of production K-Trap opts for still results in a moment to remember.

Though not a total detriment to the album, Street Side Effects misses the opportunity to take risks. The anxiety to experiment neutralises any hints towards K-Trap evolving as an artist, something that must be considered for future albums before the signature flow and trap production get stale.

It may play it safe, but K-Trap’s debut album polishes the style of music that is a product of his environment. At long last, Street Side Effects sheds light on K-Trap the human being.

Rating: 8 / 10

Favourite tracks: “Street Side Effects”, “Lessons”, “Probably”, “Story of My Life”, “Just Cool”, “By the Rules”, “Promised”, “Whip that Work”

📸  Follow Mic Cheque on Instagram for extra content (@miccheque.ig)

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