PIERS JAMES – VIBES AND TRIBULATIONS II EP – REVIEW
WRITTEN BY CHARLES ODUGBESAN
On June 15th 14HQ were in Shoreditch to attend the listening party of UK Hip-Hop artist Piers James’ Vibes and Tribulations II EP. This was the first time most had met or indeed heard of the Ipswich rapper and we relished the opportunity to hear his story. Piers fell in love with music at a young age and has been honing his craft for over 11 years. And now on the morning of June 16th the 27 year old followed up his Vibes and Tribulations album with its’ second instalment.
So let’s see what we’ve got..
The album begins with the song ‘These Nights’. The song is a celebratory, feel good anthem with underlying lyrics that convey ambition and determination: ‘I hope one day I can be truly living// or living for what I’m giving’. ‘These Nights’ is an energising and powerful opener to the EP as Piers makes a point of advising us (and indeed himself) to make the most of the good times. This was one of the two songs from the EP that he performed at his listening party; and to hear him introduce himself with such an uplifting song was commendable. No surprise that he chose this song to kick off the new project!
FEELS LIKE FT JGRREY
Track 2 ‘Feels Like’ slows down the pace of the album and sets a very mellow tone, instantly offering the listener an almost polar opposite mood and set of cadences to ‘These Nights’. The song features JGrrey who does a fantastic job here. The instrumental is soft, light… something of a lullaby and it matches up perfectly with the singers vocals as she takes command of the majority of the track (including the hook) serenading and making the listener float through the song. Though Piers is the star of the show, he takes somewhat of a supporting role in ‘Feels like’, filling in the gaps with subdued flowing lyrics to maintain the ‘floating’ essence created. After hearing the first two songs we could already hazard a guess that all 6 will not sound the same at all.
UNFINISHED BUSINESS FT IMONI
Personally, Track 3 ‘Unfinished Business’ is my favourite song on the album. To me it has the most complete mix and provides the perfect advert for the album title. It entails: rapping; singing; melody and flow. Again Piers allows the singer IMONI to set the tone of the song, her voice rich and soulful, providing an effortless blend with the smooth, metronome, ‘A Tribe Called Quest’ style instrumental. Another amazing job. The vibe of the song once again differs from the previous two, especially the latter. Where ‘These Nights’ ignited the feel of celebration and ‘Feels Like’ was more sombre, both the artists and the beat produce a funk and soul that only a Jazz/Hip Hop fusion can exhibit. The vibe gives us the feeling of a cool afternoon after a hot summer’s day, perfect for this time of year. The tribulation… well the song title says it all as both artists cleverly sing back and forth over a tale of a broken yet ‘unfinished’ relationship. This song was premiered by DJ Target on Radio 1xtra and met with such a good reception.
OFF TO HOLLYWOOD
The flow of Vibes and Tribulations II changes going into the second half of the album with the added emphasis of Boom Bap style drums in the instrumentals bringing an aggression and more serious tone to the project. Track 4 ‘Off to Hollywood’ tells a tale of both resignation and defiance. The song speaks to those who doubted Piers on his musical journey ‘You were always tryna tell me different but you never listen// That’s why you’re missing// That’s why you’re reminiscing’ and his lyrics (as well as the hook) are telling of his desire to chase his dreams, represented in a manner of speaking by the song title.
The penultimate Track ‘Samurai’ is the typical ‘arrogant rapper’ song that is a staple in any Hip Hop artists’ body of work. The instrumental of the song has a combat scene essence to it and so the title is fitting – the drums also add that Boom Bap Hip Hop style once again, a familiar setting for Piers as he sticks to the roots of his artistry here. The song follows ‘OFF TO HOLLYWOOD’ with Piers laying down an array of brash, cocky similes and metaphors that showcase his wordplay and charisma. Were it not for the hook one could almost label this a freestyle. Piers’ collaborations up to this points produce a series of different sounds and feels, all of good quality in their own respect. But what is telling of an artist is their ability to stand alone and add new dimensions without diminishing in substance or quality. Piers passes the test with ‘Samurai’.
A SONG ABOUT NOTHING
The final Track off of the Vibes and Tribulations II EP is ‘A Song About Nothing’. Piers experiments with a trippy futuristic sound which clashes against a barrage of drums. At first listen this may not sound like the most eloquent of instrumentals, especially when we refer back to the previous songs. However multiple listens will erode the confusion. Piers displays his musical prowess as he opts to sing this time around, blending his personal lyrics with the songs’ slow pace. It is a great way of him using the song to gradually fade us out of the album.
All in all Piers James shows here that the overall quality of his music has improved relative to his previous works. This album felt like a successful experimentation of differing melodies and paces to which he applies a number of concepts towards. The album title is an extremely accurate depiction of its’ general feel and subsequent timing of its’ release is thoughtful and well planned. I highly recommend giving the album a listen!!
Vibes and Tribulations II is available on Spotify and Apple Music