20 Songs, 1 Hour 18 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

The UK hip-hop pioneer presents his powerful state of the nation address. Where once his arresting, twisting rhymes would focus on personal hardships, now tracks like “Hard Bastards” and “One Thing” present class polemics dressed up as bangers. His sixth album is unrelenting stuff—the disturbing “Crying” literally cuts up the wails of women and children for its chorus—and it’s thrilling to hear the 42-year-old so turbo-charged with purpose. There are more easygoing moments (“Don’t Breathe Out” combines a Barry White sample with a mindful flow) but this is his darkest, most vital work to date.

EDITORS’ NOTES

The UK hip-hop pioneer presents his powerful state of the nation address. Where once his arresting, twisting rhymes would focus on personal hardships, now tracks like “Hard Bastards” and “One Thing” present class polemics dressed up as bangers. His sixth album is unrelenting stuff—the disturbing “Crying” literally cuts up the wails of women and children for its chorus—and it’s thrilling to hear the 42-year-old so turbo-charged with purpose. There are more easygoing moments (“Don’t Breathe Out” combines a Barry White sample with a mindful flow) but this is his darkest, most vital work to date.

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