Review: Clavish, ‘2022’ EP

Assured but evidently raw, Clavish teases what’s to come with a preliminary EP as he gears up for his full-length debut.

North London’s Clavish has been a name to keep a tab on for the last few years. With minimal releases and without any full-length efforts, Clavish has been championed as the next UK rapper to break through the ceiling. His ‘consistency’ has always come into question, but his debut EP has arrived and indicates he is ready to make noise.

Aptly titled 2022, the EP is a declaration for a creeping takeover, showcasing potential that needs to put more money on the table to justify the confidence.

Photography: DFR

From this five-track appetiser, Clavish is toying with his direction. He is figuring out how to grab the listener’s attention in the sea of up-and-coming rappers. Trap bars and production make up the eighteen minutes, wisely skirting from today’s saturated drill sound. While it has its popularity, UK trap could benefit from a new spearhead, and Clavish could be the one to take the seat.

The intro track “Blue Plates” sets the stage with a minimal piano beat that is confident in its choice to never drop. A near five-minute track, Clavish succeeds in creating an intimate setting, rapping about his freedom and street paranoia through reflective lens.

“Bad Influence” possesses single quality and the EP’s most engaging production, alongside Clavish’s signature stone flow. Like across the rest of the tracks, Clavish goes for a nonchalant approach to his rapping, which creates room for his words to strike harder in the few moments he drops a memorable one-liner.

The track “Like This” brings a thicker package with a hook that compensates for the blasé raps. Melody isn’t what Clavish is aiming for, so his ability to provide a memorable hook is an aspect to unlock.

Closing track “Ain’t Gonna Lie” brings back the reflective tone of the intro, which is when 2022 is at its best. Here, Clavish continues to make those street sermons centred around a ring of minimalism. His words feel credible, even through Clavish treads lightly with how much he chooses to share.

In terms of identity, Clavish still has a way to go. His flows and beats are heavily in line with fellow rapper Fredo, a resemblance he should shed to win over listeners looking for something different. If low energy is the choice for performances, Clavish should intensify his production rather than matching low energy with minimal production. It is an EP that has its moments, though beats around what the rapper’s X factor is.

On 2022, Clavish still sounds raw. But it’s fair to assume his best tracks are being saved for his imminent mixtape. With added attention to his craft, 2022 could well enough be his year.

2022 is out on December 10 via Polydor Records.