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“Energy” [ft. Stormzy & Skepta]
XL’s recent New Gen compilation proved there’s a gang of MCs bubbling in the London underground, chomping at the bit for the chance to take the U.K.’s grime and hip-hop scene global. Tottenham’s Avelino is one of that tape’s most promising talents—and on his latest single “Energy,” a posse cut with the grime greats Skepta and Stormzy, he proves he can hang. Producer Raf Riley (who also did Avelino’s debut EP, FYO) borrows a page from the brostep bible: each verse slowly builds up to the nuclear drop that precedes the hook. Both Stormzy and Skepta take Avelino’s lead, rhyming over the slow-burning pace he sets on his opening verse. While he may be the upstart in this crew, Avelino arguably has the sickest bar—“Don’t be a sheep when you can be the G.O.A.T.”—as Riley drives the industrial synth techno melody with feedback, breaking glass, and a strung-out chipmunk vocal sample. Avelino sounds as comfortable here as he does on his other New Gen offerings, the reggae-tinged “Ring the Alarm” and the Euro-trap “Welcome to the New Gen.” If there’s a defining characteristic of this generation of U.K. hip-hop, it’s their comfort with genre-bending, a noted rejection of grime’s past gatekeeping. One need look no farther than MCs like Avelino for evidence.