It's a funny UK phenomenon of rap diaspora have to be tenuously tied to (or tie themselves to) established scenes, stormzy, aitch, ambush, grime, Cas, road rap and grime. Pa salieu afroswing, a load of people getting lumped in with drill etc. etc. But it's kind of a dead end either youre in or your out.
Salieu has pulled off his breakthrough largely through carving out a musical space entirely of his own in a crowded market. You can see where the comparisons to J Hus have come from – there’s a distinct note of Afroswing about the beats – but Salieu’s music is largely devoid of Hus’s lush melodicism. The most obviously hooky of his 2020 singles, Bang Out, which sampled Japan’s Ghosts, is absent; the closest he leans to pop comes on More People, with its 80s soft-rock synths, and Energy, decked out with limber bass and vocals from UK soul singer Mahalia. Instead, he taps into the ominous atmospherics of grime and the minimalism of dancehall, the latter particularly noticeable on No Warnin’, featuring a vocal from Trinidad’s Boy Boy. On Frontline and Flip, Repeat, Auto-Tuned vocals are marooned over a bleak landscape of ghostly, high synth lines, minor chords, murky bass tones and dubby echo; Betty has an insidiously catchy chorus, but it’s set against a backdrop that’s creepy and muted, the electronics churning in the distance.