“Will these lyrics just fall on deaf ears? I’ve been waiting to spit this for years”, Wrighty muses over a spine-tingling orchestral arrangement on “Battle Scars”, the cinematic opener on his long-awaited debut album of the same name.
Following a shock cancer diagnosis last year and the news that surgeons would be operating on his throat, the South London native stirred himself into a self-described “frenzy” of recording and releasing new music on a weekly basis. Two successful operations later, Wrighty’s scars serve both as a permanent reminder of his struggle and as a source of musical inspiration. Maintaining his prolific work rate, he carefully assembled a ten-track collection of “deep cuts”, spanning weighty issues including war and conflict, grievance, and institutional racism.
The introspective rapper first rose to prominence in his teens as a feel-good UK garage MC, frequenting London’s Club’s, but his lyrical substance has matured in tandem with a rollercoaster of life experiences. This is evident throughout the album: for example, the first verse of “Road to a Million” explores a myriad of overtly political themes including police brutality and Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, while the second offers an honest insight into the rarely-depicted struggles of an aspiring musician.
Flipping classic lyrics from The Notorious B.I.G and A Tribe Called Quest on “What’s Stress?”, Wrighty offers an evocative and polemic political commentary on subjects such as climate change and corporate social responsibility (“The media fabricating, police telling us lies / The food is killing us, corporations pollute the skies”). Meanwhile, on “Letter to the Youth”, he reprimands irresponsible parents, imploring fellow dads: “I know we’re trying, but we need to try a little harder / Charity begins at home with you fathers.”
There are several flourishes of light-heartedness on Battle Scars, too. “Fake Facts” is a tongue-in-cheek play on today’s ‘fake news’ epidemic, re-framed to diss the disingenuous and set against the backdrop of a shuffling, saxophone-led instrumental from German production powerhouse Bake That. On braggadocious closing track “Doing Too Much”, Wrighty forays into grime, lacing a huge Deyarko instrumental decorated with resonant basslines and punctuative brass instruments. Soulful vocal contributions from singers R.A.I and Julie Iwheta offer messages of hope and reassurance; after all, the healing process is just as important as the diagnosis.