High Focus continue their dominance with the hugely anticipated debut project from Contact Play member Mr. Key, entitled ‘Yesterday’s Futures’, which is produced in its entirety by Greenwood Sharps. Key’s personal, introspective and captivating writing style is showcased throughout, with various electronic soundscapes backing the intricate writing with wonderful synthesized textures and thumping percussion. Anyone in the UK hip-hop following will have been anticipating and waiting patiently for the debut solo project from Mr. Key, and ‘Yesterday’s Futures’ will more than satisfy their appetites.
The opening track, ‘Rituals’ features fellow Contact Play and High Focus rapper Jam Baxter. From the album’s outset it’s clear that Mr. Key’s intelligence and personal life experiences will be the focus for the album, with interesting and varied rhyme schemes from both Key and Baxter making for an enthralling opener. ‘Exact Costs Pt. 1 – All Rise’, which features an appearance from a different CP member, Edward Scissortongue, follows. The layered, down-tempo feel of the production is suited to the complex lyricism on display. ‘Missing You’ is potentially my favourite track from the album, although it’s a closely fought battle. The heartfelt subject matter and fantastic chorus make for a stunning song. The Mount Kimbie esque synthesizers, evident on tracks like ‘Millions’, which features memorably haunting vocal samples and a melodic performance from Key. The subjects tackled throughout ‘Yesterday’s Futures’ really allow you to get a look inside his head, as his writing is incredibly personal. Greenwood Sharps’ production talents also shine, with a hypnotically good beat, and a truly great outro.
‘Funny Valentine’, a story about a past relationship again sees Mr. Key demonstrating a stunning narrative, and the glitchy yet soulful beat is also a winning factor. The intense production on ‘Kids Story’ makes for one of my favourite beats on the album. Sharps is just as much of a star on ‘Yesterday’s Futures’ as Key, evident on ‘Solstice’ for instance, where the electronic, chilled soundscape and spoken word style from Key combine to make for an utterly brilliant cut. ‘Faust Hype’, although brief at only one minute and fifty seconds, is another of my favourite songs here, with spacey synthesizers and dope percussion, as well as another intricate and fascinating performance from Key.
‘Yesterday’s Futures’ is a stunning album. Mr. Key and Greenwood Sharps’ collaboration is fantastically cohesive, and makes for a repeatedly entertaining listen, with depth and honesty from Key, and remarkable production from Sharps. This doesn’t sound like anything else released on High Focus Records, which yet again proves their versatility and talent isn’t waning in any shape or form. ‘Yesterday’s Futures’ was most certainly worth the wait, and then some.
By Sam Bennett