The majority of us have been in a position where we’ve been compared to an older relative because “they did it first!” they came 1st in the egg and spoon race in school and when it came time to flex your athletic abilities on the field you came…5th ; or that elder sibling who managed to blag themselves a job at Harvey Nics’ with 30 % discount on Balenciaga creps, whilst you just about made it through the interview without projectile vomiting on the assembled panel to bag a brand new, top boy, big man job at…Home bargain!. Even if we’ve not experienced it ourselves, we are fully aware of the increased pressure put upon younger siblings to walk the same path to success as their genetically linked predecessor or in this case, there’s an expectation to tread tentatively across the thin ice to make it to the other side triumphantly to become the success story your big bro is.
The constant comparisons from family members and peers must be stressful enough without the prying eyes of the public looking in, add to that choosing to enter the same or similar line of work as your sibling and it creates a very unique set of circumstances not many of us have experienced. There are relations in the grime and UK rap world – Krept and Cadet are cousins, P.Money and blacks are brothers, Sharky major and Armour are cousins as are Stormzy and Nadia Rose; but none of these relations have threatened to cast an (unintentional) giant shadow over the others’ achievements due to their iconic and almost mythical status. Such a unique set of conditions could put a younger artist like Cadell in direct competition with his elder sibling (Wiley), or alternatively it could signal the formation of a camaraderie where two forces join together as a fierce fraternal unit blazing through a slew of multi million pound endorsements and business ventures like the UK version of Rev Run and Russel Simmons in the U.S.
The above does not appear to ring true for Cadell and Wiley, infact Cadell has been (for the most part) a constant supporter of his brothers’ work and vice versa; despite sibling support there must be an immense pressure to avoid being overshadowed by the success of your big bro before you have fully forged your own identity. Cadell’s 2016 debut album ‘3 is the new 6’ attempts to introduce us to Cadell as an artist in his own right, he tells us he has a screw loose and is a psycho and in more touching moments he keeps his family close throughout the album with a phone call between himself and his dad included and a feature from Wiley on the skippy ‘Fair and Square,’ The album was a wide lens view into Cadell’s life and thoughts regarding trapping, money, feds and he displayed a rebel without a cause disposition. Cadell sounded like a man who had lived 3 life times already rather than a 17 year old teen at the beginning of his musical journey. The album did a good job of introducing Cadell the artist and showcased his fire flow and flashes of introspection, but it felt as though he had not realised his full potential as yet.
In the same year, Cadell also released the ‘Hotline’ EP which played like Cadell had walked into his own personal fight club to slew his detractors. It’s clear he was taking no prisoners on the EP, instead of the low key exploration and reflection found on ‘3 is the new 6’; here we have complete and utter belligerence and recklessness. The EP made a lot of noise at the time due to the fact he was sending for what seemed like the whole grime scene, fuelled by the conviction he was better than most of his peers. Whether you agree or not with Cadell’s choice to send for hugely popular artists, you can’t deny that the whole project was bold, brilliant and provocative. Cadell flexes his grime flow and attacks with jabs and power packed punches. The ‘Hotline’ EP (which was actually released 6 months before his debut album) sounds like it came from an ‘I don’t give AF’ 17 year old on the cusp of greatness, you can hear in Cadell’s delivery, that he does not care about the consequences of his disses, he even gives out his phone number, daring the subjects of his scathing pars to confront him. He mentions again on the track ‘Hotline 3’ he’s got a screw loose and maybe it’s the threat of the wayward loose cannon Cadell appears to be, which makes this EP satisfying for adrenaline junkies!
Which brings us to 2018’s brilliant ‘L.O.N.D.O.N’ (Lots of nig*as don’t observe nature) album, where Cadell completely and undoubtedly comes into his own on his second full length project. There are no production elements or conversational soundbites on this album which link him to his elder brother. Listening to L.O.N.D.O.N an image formed of Cadell walking a tightrope rope between blocks of flats in tower hamlet without the support of ropes or a harness; he’s out there, alone, walking bravely against the elements, and should he fall then that’s a risk he’s prepared to take. The album opens with a roadman Bond instrumental, Cadell summarises his journey so far on the intro ‘Boy Wonder.’ Cadell; now 20 divulges he has been concentrating on his personal growth and now chooses to lead with love in his heart; but before we get too comfortable he reminds us he still possesses the persona of a bad man just beneath the surface – “Never knew growing up I could be so savage but I’m older and trying to get rebalaned, end fools careers and make dreams happen.” Titular track ‘L.O.N.D.O.N’ is a stark look at the harsh realities faced living in the UK’s capital. Cadell is now socially and economically aware as he shares his opinions on congestion charges, the authorities discrediting the youth and the disheartening poverty surrounding him. Cadell is proud to be from London, but he also has the insight to recognise the contradiction of loving London but having to constantly look over his shoulder to survive the gritty city.
‘2001’ has a sparse oriental feel production with a moody drawn out bass as Cadell observes some men will openly admit they miss their boy who is on lockdown, long before they admit to missing their girl; he comes with grade A double entendre and play on words with – “My hoods tight but they snake each other, call it Bow constriction” (boa constrictor which is of course one of the most painful snake bites you can be subjected to.) Cadell then switches it up and hits us with a big ass BASS of a club banger with ‘Create a career’ which will have you off your sofa and skankin about, its infectious hook is sing-a-long worthy and Cadell’s flow only adds to the high energy of the track. Reoccurring themes on this album which were not explored in depth on his previous 2 projects, is Cadell’s enhanced ability to now look beyond his own thoughts and immediate circle to focus on living standards surrounding him which is a testament to his maturity.
‘Tower Hamlets’ is like opening your google maps up in L.O.N.D.O.N and then doing a pinch and zoom to pin point his home, ‘Tower Hamlets’ for a closer look. Cadell takes us on a tour of savagery, betrayals jealousy and mistrust in his ends. Cadell shows his genius with the multi-faceted lyric “Your own family will hate on you like Claudius and Hamlet” Claudius and Hamlet are the two lead characters in the Shakespearean play ‘Hamlet’ which coincidently shares its name with Cadell’s ends. Even more interestingly Claudius and Hamlet happen to be brothers. Conflicting feelings prevail as he states he loves getting out of Tower Hamlets but openly admits he will never leave Tower Hamlets. As bleak as the picture is that Cadell paints with his words, he poignantly holds out hope things will get better one day. ‘Put the knife down’ is in a similar vein to ‘Tower Hamlets’ but serves as a warning to the mandem to resolve their issues with their fists before the outcome is irrevocable. It’s a warning which hits harder in the wake of the recent stabbing of model Harry Uzoka, for which George Koh has been charged.
Cadell explores the balance between life on road with his boys and having focus on his career on the downcast ‘No Chill.’ His maturity is most evident here as he accepts he’s in the next phase of his career / life and can’t have any distractions, but pledges to remain loyal to his crew. A killer double entendre is unleashed with the lyrics ‘When I was releasing ‘Fair and Square’ was the last time I used a press release, cos she loved me then she stopped texting me.” Introspection remains omnipresent on the track ‘Voices’, as Cadell wrestles with his inner demons, the production is what an echo would sound like if it could reverse itself and feels claustrophobic; which would ring true if your inner demons were trying to draw you out! The doubts Cadell shares on ‘Voices’ fade to a whisper as self-assuredness takes over on the track ‘My circle’; Cadell speaks with conviction regarding his progression, the track is almost like a lone coaching session, as Cadell trains himself to “stay focused” to a double time bass. The production on penultimate track ‘Exclusive’ Has a menacing bass under a pensive ‘horror core’ piano riff as Cadell sifts through various thoughts including having no retributions, he compares himself to Mowgli because he grew up with animals (on road) and he again reiterates he is against knives being used as a resolution for petty beefs. By the time we arrive at the public service announcement feel outro ‘No Hooks’ (Cadell spits his bars via what sounds like a CB radio) we can be certain that Cadell has not only certified his place as a talented force within UK rap (who sometimes does “A little Grime”); he also fully realises his responsibility to any yutes who are watching him on his journey in admiration; and must therefore make the right choices.
Although not the last track on the album I had to save the best until last and give special shout outs to ‘No link ups’ which sees Cadell reunited with producer Splurt Diablo AKA Merky Ace. This track has single handily dragged me out of my January blues cocoon as the vibes on the production are uplifting and energising with a ‘feeling sky high’ freshness about it, with the driving bass adding texture and substance. ‘No link ups’ is a whole mood and one we can all identify with as Cadell breaks down the fact he’s moving through life on his own because every time he thinks people are real and begins to trust them, he finds out they are fake and bogus, something I completely relate to, especially during the tail end of 2017! The growth, depth and maturity on this third offering from Cadell displays he has developed an acute social awareness and an identity so full of certainty he’s eliminated the threat of being overshadowed by a sibling…or anyone for that matter.