Review: Mowgs, ‘The Bare Necessities’ – First Listen

The Birmingham rapper’s second mixtape feeds the nation’s hunger for street sermons, offering a candid look into his life.

Mowgs has been the underdog for a while. But that works in his favour. The UK loves an underdog rapper, especially one who wears their heart on their sleeve. His sophomore project arrives after a year’s rollout, feeling louder and larger in its reach and ambitions.

Titled The Bare Necessities, Mowgs’ mixtape follows a practical narrative while bringing his city together across the tracklist.

Photography: Danny Views

In line with his peers’ approaches, Mowgs is nothing but pensive over the 50 minutes. “Speak” touches on hard work, betrayal in his circle and the effects of the trap life. On “A Girl from ERDZ”, Mowgs narrates the doom of a woman in his hometown of Erdington, a highlight of the tape that showcases the rapper’s knack for gripping the listener with storytelling. Elsewhere, Mowgs turns nostalgic as he recalls his teenage years (“Halifax”, “Back to Them Days”). What you can take instantly from The Bare Necessities is there’s a lot of Mowgs’ mind, and that his writing is clearly therapeutic.

The production on show is signature Brum. Credits come courtesy of JB, Swifta Beater, Fumes Beats and more, bringing the bouncy synths and pitched samples that turn up in Birmingham’s rap scene. The guest appearances are equally residential, connecting with MIST for “Swerve Off” before taking it to Hampshire for “Trap Boys” with Country Dons. These two tracks bring the energy the mixtape needs, as well as finding the best flows of the project.

Mowgs is willing to get out of his comfort zone as well, sharing vocal duties on the hook to “Slow Jam”. It’s a worthy tune as a penultimate moment before Mowgs goes all out on a moving “Outro”, subtitled “Five Minutes of Pain”. By the end of the tape, it’s realised that this lane is where Mowgs feels at home.

Among its standout moments, Mowgs can take his talents to the next level by exploring different flows; ones that don’t pack in extra syllables within the bars. Once this theme is dropped, Mowgs will be able to grant catchier songs and be further respected as a competent rapper.

With his pain on full show, The Bare Necessities creates plenty promise for Mowgs’ ascent.

Best tracks: “A Girl from ERDZ”, “Trap Boys”, “Swerve Off”