The Gipsy Hill rapper enters his second prime on The Last Whip II, a tenacious sequel cut from the same cloth as the classic predecessor.
K-Trap has weathered the storm. He’s seen the fruits of his labour as a drill pioneer, embraced into the modern era with open arms. Though it took a bump in the road to get to this stage. His ambitions were set on new territories, pursuing personal content on trap templates for his debut studio album, Street Side Effects, released in 2020. However, fan reception was mixed, resulting in K-Trap parting ways with his label and taking it back to basics. The fans wanted pure drill, so K-Trap obliged, returning with the much-celebrated Trapo mixtape the following year. Six months later, K-Trap continued to follow demands, releasing the requested collaborative mixtape with Blade Brown, Joints, back in March. It became K-Trap’s highest-charting project of his career. Now back with his second offering of the year, K-Trap has his eyes set on validating a second prime.
The Last Whip II positions K-Trap back on the throne of drill, continuing the streak ignited by Trapo while being his most assured work since 2019’s No Magic.
It’s like K-Trap has taken a time machine back to 2017. The production in drill may have evolved since then, but the performer is able to channel the same spirit he first broke onto the scene with. That spirit includes a handful of components. K-Trap’s writing is right in line with the expectations of ‘authentic’ drill, recounting a life of crime that collides with his fame as an artist (“I signed to the label and left the label / Threw that all, I had yola selling”). This comes with a slew of one-liners across the mixtape, delivered through K-Trap’s signature flow that doesn’t manage to get stale (“Fill that tank up, lean out the window / Scratch man’s head back like we tryna get out dandruff”). Together, the South London rapper delivers a project that carries the essence of a mixtape, but has the components of memorable drill songs.
This is the secret to the quality of The Last Whip II. K-Trap knows how to make a drill song without all the excess. You’d expect this from a father of UK drill, but it’s easy to lose that touch five years into a career. What also helps is the project’s production, essential in making K-Trap’s words impact like a car to a brick wall. He enlists household names M1OnTheBeat, Chris Rich, Soundboi100, H1K, and others, channelling those warping 808s that continue to dominate the airwaves of mainstream music. Tracks like “G19” and “Rolling” have that foreboding quality that only exist in the best of drill beats, obnoxious in their muddy basslines and attitude.
When The Last Whip II isn’t delivering solo standouts, it’s indulging in suitable collaborations. Homage is paid to the 2017 tape with renewed appearances from Headie One, Youngs Teflon and S Loud. K-Trap and Headie One showcase their usual chemistry on “Extra Sleeve”, which matches the quality of their track on The Last Whip. Youngs Teflon trades bars on the entertaining “Molly Mae”, a trap cut that provides a necessary break from the tape’s drill production. But the best partnership is demonstrated with LD on “Golden Goal”, proving that the duo only create classics when they’re on the same track.
For listeners looking for artistic evolution, there will be question marks around K-Trap’s choice to abate his music. But the will to take risks was tried and tested with the rapper’s debut album. It showed drill fans reject the desire for a drill artist to evolve. It was a similar case for Headie One, coincidentally in the same year when his Fred Again collaboration GANG brought avant-drill to the forefront, though is unfairly treated as the ugly ducking of his discography. In K-Trap’s case, the push-and-pull of the UK audience continue, however there is care put into the appeasement of those day-one fans, rather than conjuring a project that’s by the numbers.
With The Last Whip II, K-Trap hones drill like it’s second nature, delivering one of his best projects to date that carries all the vim required from the genre. It’s back to basics for K-Trap, and for the best.
8 / 10
Best tracks: “Spoilt”, “G19”, “Golden Goal”, “Molly Mae”, “Charts”, “Feel It”, “Manners”