Haze first started his music career at the side of Mega and Mayhem, better known as S.A.S. The Eurogang movement that formed out of that era saw him collaborate with international artists and set the trend for the music coming out of London in the years that followed. As time has passed, Haze’s style and situation have changed, and after an EP release with Harry Fraud last year, he’s back with his latest full length LP entitled ‘Thinking Out Loud’.
The album’s intro is intense, captivating and uplifting, setting the tone perfectly for the emotional ride Haze is embarking on. ‘The Calling’ is ambitious in terms of it’s production, and this is a trend that is repeated throughout the project; the majestic, cinematic backdrop is complimented by Haze’s insightful lyrics, which are humble and honest throughout the track. Haze’s melodic approach on the thumping, tasteful trap inspired title track is executed flawlessly, and shows his maturity and versatility. ‘Follower Or Leader’ is a hard-hitting banger which features a frequent collaborator in Pak-Man. Both MC’s deliver passionate verses, and Haze is incredibly cutting with it; he spits
‘I hear the cries of the angels, it’s like they were speaking to me. Walking with me creeping with me, talking with me, reason with me. Never following, word to God they be leading with me. Reminiscing ’bout when I was younger with the heater on me. Feeding on me, leading on me, trying to get the demon off me’.
‘Suttin About Me’ features J Spades and Whooli, and the gritty, street anthem is convincing, menacing and textured. Haze again demonstrates his melodic delivery, which is matched with self-confidence and audible experience. The upbeat, punchy ‘Fly Boy Fresh’ is a standout, and it’s a track with commercial crossover potential beyond much of Haze’s more intense material, and the modern production shows how the London MC has maintained his relevance, and has adapted his sound to the new era and stylistic leanings of the UK rap scene. Switching up his content again on ‘Problems’, Haze impresses with a politically infused track, sending scathing messages to those in positions of power. Akala and Black The Ripper are recruited for this tune, and the combination of MCs and styles works impeccably. ‘Nostalgic’ too is a highlight, with a wavey, synthetic instrumental backing Haze as he rocks with an unorthodox, spacey flow.
‘Confessions Of A Clean Heart’ is one of my favourite cuts from the LP, with a glorious instrumental and smooth vocals from Haze; the diversity and fantastic execution of a wide range of styles goes a long way towards making ‘Thinking Out Loud’ the success it is. ‘Everything’ is another deep offering, and it’s this very insightful, introspective side to Haze that impresses so much, and it’s a side that’s perhaps been slightly under-explored in his previous projects. The album closes out with the fantastic ‘Made In Love’, which also features established Hackney born singer-songwriter Maverick Sabre, and is dedicated to Haze’s children.
‘Thinking Out Loud’ is a mature, inspirational, provocative project, and it finds Haze at new heights compared to the rawer leanings of his earlier mixtapes. He sounds polished, confident and comfortable, and the production value is at a consistent high, twisting and turning with Haze’s various different concepts and vibes. This is guaranteed to stay in rotation long after the first listen, as Haze’s layers and intelligent writing needs time to fully hit home, but when it does the wait is undoubtedly worth every second.
By Sam Bennett