Ok, I admit it. I didn’t like Wretch 32. He seemed to come from nowhere, have these huge hits and everything seemed a bit too easy for him, and to me it was a bit, you know, charty. That was until I heard his new track Doing OK featuring Jacob Banks. Now I feel like I’m acting out a scene from Moonlighting (ok, 80’s cultural referencing there) the love/hate thing turning, but they can’t really resist eachother. I know this is more of a one-way thing going on in my mind, but you get the idea.
Turns out Wretch 32 didn’t come from nowhere straight to the top. The Tottenham boy has worked his way there, given some extra impetus when he became a father at the age of 21, and is deserving the massive success he’s getting at the moment. Born the son of a Reggae toaster, he didn’t have much choice as a youngster to get into music, what with that and his mother/sisters r’n’b collections anyway. A misspent youth (I class that as occasionally missing science to go play snooker at the hall next door to the school, but in Wretch 32’s case it was a bit more rebellious) ended with his mother kicking him out of the house at 17, forced him to grow up and take responsibility.
Taking his love of music, and Hip-Hop/Grime in particular, he began making mixtapes and beats and rhyming over everything. It eventually paid off, with him winning 1Xtra’s coveted mixtape award. This in turn brought him to the attention of both the wider world, but more importantly record labels, and he signed for Ministry of Sound recordings. The rest, well that’s history.
New track Doing Ok, featuring Birmingham singer Jacob Banks, opens with this sort of military style drumming patterns, and Banks velvety tones. It’s got this laid back groove to it, punctuated by Wretch 32’s rhyming, typically I suppose waxing lyrical on the subject of how well he’s doing. There’s these Jazz hooks, and African sounding choral interjections that only add to the overall summery and laid back feel, and the track itself feels like the aural equivalent of laying by the beach as the sun goes down. Relaxing and leaving a smile on your face, but without managing to sound smug.
I hate to admit it, but Wretch 32 is doing ok.