The ‘Heavy Trackerz’ did right to call their concept album ‘Odyssey’ as it really does take you on an otherworldly journey of the sonic stratosphere and beyond which would explain the space suits on the album cover. The trackerz with the tekkerz explore many tuneful terrains in their exploration through song and space visiting Grime on ‘Rude boy flex’ ft. Ghetts, reggae on ‘Survivor’ ft. Doctor, Inch of section boyz and Joe Grind, Gospel on the choir assisted ‘Feel the love’, RnB/Dance on ‘Days like This’ complete with the gorgeously feminine allure of Tizzy’s vocals. We even have a foray into the UKG arena with a reworking of the singalong garage classic ‘Sorry’ and fresh vocals from original singer Monsta boy. We are treated to a frustrated but brilliant Manga Saint Hilaire airing his grievances at being overlooked on the track ‘Kore Wa Odessei’, why he’s overlooked I cannot fathom as his album ‘Outbursts from the outskirts’ is the most authentic Grime album of the year along with ‘Godfather.’ For the drillers there’s ‘Way too much’ ft. Big Tobz, Young T and Bugsey to roll around in your (German) whip too. No matter what your musical tastes are I guarantee you there is at least two tracks on ‘Odyssey: A musical journey’ that will appeal to you, which is a testament to Lord Teedot and G.Tank’s eclectic productions and their ability to assemble a varied cast of artists of all calibres.
Interestingly the album is split into chapters not dissimilar to a book or movie, which this album is. Acting as the glue binding each chapter together are skits from a fictional music exec named ‘Paul’ (think Eminem’s Paul skits on Marshal Mather’s LP) Paul clearly doesn’t have a clue about the culture or what is considered current, but as a head honcho at a record label he is intent on making quick money from popular music based on the fact his kids listen to it. As the skits play out it becomes apparent Paul does not have the group’s best interests at heart and he’s in it for selfish reasons, meaning we as the listener simultaneously follow the heavy trackerz heavy footprints as they land on differing genres of music and the fictional character of ‘Paul’ who gasses them throughout the album, offering them everything but delivering nothing.
The intro track ‘Odyssey’ features a rousing monologue from actor Noel Clarke who urges the young inner city brothers and sisters with ambition to “Take the bull by the horns and make your own chances, you’ve got to make your own opportunity. Create your own destiny.” As Noel delivers his powerful speech there is a wailing female operatic voice draping his words in resilience, which reminded me of the female soprano on P.diddy’s ‘Victory.’ P.Money then gives his insight into coming up in the “Belly of the beast” and begs we all go through the hardships he has endured and come out as a survivor. As we head into cruise ‘Control’ featuring JME, P.Money, Kurt and the man who never sleeps as he is the Nate Dogg of the UK scene Donae’o, The operatic theme of the intro remains with a phantom of the opera type chorus singing “We will be victorious” as Donae’o and JME sombrely remind us “We’re in control” which is essentially what this journey is about, having complete control and freedom in your creativity.
Notable quirks on album is the way tracks meld into each other, such as the way the melancholic violin opens up ‘Rude boy flex ft. Face, Lethal Bizzle and Ghetts’ carrying over the strings from the preceding track ‘Control.’ The operatic instrumental of the intro ‘Odyssey’ leaks into the track ‘Control.’ The track ‘Survivor’ which talks about the struggles of the streets is connected to the opening of ‘Feel the love’ as a voice proclaims “…I love it though” referencing the subject matter of the former track, creating a bridge between the two tracks. The heavy trackerz push this merging of sounds one step further by also having the artists cross over from one track to the next, such as P.money’s appearance on the intro ‘Odyssey’ and him sticking around to spit bars on the follow up track ‘Control’; or a number of artists appear twice on the album often with a complete switch up in flow on their second guest appearances; for example Big Narstie has features on the tracks ‘Sorry’ and the frantic ‘Hands up’, Tizzy also gets a double feature on the tracks ‘Days like this’ and ‘When I wake up’, Face also appears on the latter track alongside Tizzy and he also guests on the track ‘Rude boy Flex’ alongside Ghetts’ and similarly Ghetts also pops up again on the track ‘Black Widow.’ This makes for a very clever way to further solidify this project as a concept album with interlinking themes and subject matters, whilst showcasing one artists’ range in style and flow having them appear twice on the same album. One of my favourite songs on the album tying the theme of greedy A&R’s and agents like ‘Paul’ talking crap to profit from an artist, is the very short but simply stunning ‘Lights’ Ft. the legendary Shola Ama, singing from a male perspective; her vocal is so crystal clear it sent shivers down my spine. The track ‘Concrete jungle’ ties up the themes running concurrently throughout the album detailing the journey of triumph over struggle when you have come up through pain and poverty which many of us within the grime and UK rap industries know all too well. The track also explores the battle to remain righteous and protect your clean hearted energy when people around you are willing you to take a fall so they can take delight in your failure. The violins on the track bring the sorrow and the pianos amplify the tragic beauty in the struggle and survival.
The heavy trackerz have excelled themselves by providing a train of heavy tracks for us to board and share in this epic and multilayered journey with them.