The W Hotel in Leicester Square was a nice choice of venue for the intimate screening of Thinking Out Loud, a short film and one part of the audio/visual release by UK Hip Hop artist Haze.
Introduced by Producer Sheridan De Myers, who described this release as a 360 project comprising of a 21 track album, music video and this film which depicts the life of a young man in London living a life of crime, confusion and contradictions.
The visuals in the short are cliched and lacked a wow factor. This could be any one of many films released in the past 10 years about the life of a mid-level drug dealer trying to survive. In these movies it is de rigueur to show the Nike box filled with cash, the council flat, with nice décor, the tracksuit and trainers attire, the nice car, the beef with rival gangs etc.
However! The dialogue was kept to a minimum with Haze himself narrating most of the story in prose which was a nice effective twist, very urban poetic.
Technical difficulties which were not noticed by me or anyone else forces the film to be restarted. The reset reveals a new scene and addition to the storyline. A dependant younger sister and an ambition to help his family move out ‘the ends’. One solemn shot with the main character, played by Haze, sitting alone in a restaurant eating a meal and reading a book was a good way to bring us closer to realism. This is a true story and these street musicals are often filled with faux bravado. This one scene reminded us that like everyone else he just wants to find some solace and was a good departure from the norm.
After a big deal, a robbery and a big decision to make we are left with an ambiguous ending, you can make up your own mind or listen to the album which supposedly tells the rest of the story.
The album starts strong with more brilliant poetry on the Intro featuring Jasmin Knight. Title track Thinking out Loud is surprisingly commercial and upbeat, a huge juxtaposition from the gritty theme of the film.
The album is a solid piece of work if not a bit schizophrenic. Upbeat urban pop tracks in the first half, slow lethargic tracks on the second half, pierced with good features by Luci Monet, Akala and Maverick Sabre. The poetry interludes are classy, well delivered but too short. The beautiful melodic prose, was surrounded by lazy lyrical content in most of the other tracks; ‘I was making money while laying on my lilo, chillin’ in the sunshine listening to Dido’ on Fly Boy Freshbeing one of the worst lines.
The album never really finds its feet in either the good album or bad album categories. It sits precariously on the fence, which is a problem I have with a lot of UK rap. It doesn’t dare to win, it just releases and hopes for the best.
Note: I wish UK rappers would retire the N word indefinitely. It’s usage on this side of the pond is nonsensical and on this album particularly gratuitous.
Thinking Out Loud the album is out now on iTunes