Wednesday, December 09, 2020

Pa Salieu- Send Them To Coventry Review

Salieu’s debut mix tape is a smash hit that puts Coventry back on the music map and captures the current climate.

Its been a long time coming since we have had an act come out of Coventry and dominate the music scene. The last group was The Enemy during the peak of the golden era of indie rock. Coventry has been a city where the bands that break out always capture the mood of the times. From The Specials’ depiction of ghost town Britain, inner city violence and political stability, to Pa Salieu’ contemporary vision of the concrete jungle. COV- City of Violence, as he defines it in ‘Informa’, is the same turbulent jungle with a modern backdrop of urban nihilism.   

Send Them To Coventry is Salieu’s debut mixtape and really captures his range and talent. The 38 minutes of listening includes an eclectic mix of Afro-Swing, Drill, Trap, R&B with occasional synth and guitar sounds for good measure. Salieu’s distinct and flow flourishes alongside each unique sound. Comparisons to J Hus have been there since he came onto people’s radar, possibly due to having Gambian backgrounds. But Salieu’s delivery is far more severe; It complements the mixture of dark ambiance and dance beats that produces a menacing groove.

Salieu has become an overnight hit over the past year with his singles, ‘Frontline’, ‘Family’, ‘Betty’ and ‘Block Boy’. Four successful singles often forecast a great album or mixtape.  Never more will you want to bop and dance to lyrics about flinging packs and violating ops. Unlike other rappers, the ‘flex’ is side-lined by a self-awareness to push a claim to authenticity when discussing subjects of materialism, violence, friendship, and inner-city struggles. ‘Block boy’ and ‘Betty’ creates a moody party atmosphere, whilst ‘Frontline’ and ‘Family’ harness the grit of Hillfield estate.

Send them to Coventry features a nice variety of collaborations. ‘Informa’ features Birmingham rapper, Millionz. The West Midlands collaboration is a slightly more conventional UK rap tune with melancholy pianos, rumbling bass lines and snares. But the song has fast paced punchy back to back delivery and Millionz’s flow creates a nice balance with softer delivery. ‘Active’ provides a platform for homegrown Coventry talent with bars from Ni Santora, Lz Dinero, Stizee and Shakaveille. The production of Felix Joseph, AoD & Sillkey showcases an experimentation in sounds with Guitars and synths alongside a trap beat. ‘Over There’ is another one that stands out by mixing in fast hi hats that adds to dance vibe to a Grime/Trap sound.

The production on the mixtape in all areas is one of the highlights. It is not afraid to go somewhere different and revitalise established sounds in the UK rap scene. ‘More Paper’ samples 80s synth pop group, Japan. It adds a warmth, alongside Eight9fly’s melodies, to the rumbling 808s and marks a more aspirational and introspective shift in the mixtape. ‘B***k’ shows Salieu is vision is beyond street politics with a celebration of roots and identity.

‘Energy’ is an excellent climax to a dark, energetic, and tightly organised mix tape. It provides a different more upbeat and positive vibe: “Why you keep wastin' your energy?
Nеver let them draw out the energy.” The bass guitars alongside an afrobeat and synths is a sound I want to see more of. Honestly, I think the experimentation of these sounds is one that is genre defining. I have been waiting a long time for band sounds and rap beats to crossover and this album delivered. These last two tracks ‘B***k’ and ‘Energy’ show that Salieu is not only providing us insights into the Coventry streets, but providing a positive message.


After listening to album all the way through, I am eager to see where Salieu and the producers behind him go next. Send Them To Coventry is a refreshing and innovative debut mixtape that I’m sure will become a classic in years to come. 

Calum Okeefe

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