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Pop CultureJuly 28, 2018

Why shouldn’t we celebrate? SWIDT’s new EP, reviewed


SWIDT, the self-proclaimed “most electrifying rap group in entertainment”, extend their impeccable run with new EP, The Most Electrifying. Jogai Bhatt reviews.

Award-winning hip-hop group SWIDT are back with a highly-anticipated six-track EP entitled The Most Electrifying, their second cohesive body of work following last year’s breakthrough album Stoneyhunga. Spycc, INF, Smokey, JAMAL, AZA and Boomer debuted the project last night with a move both unconventional and ingenious – holding an online listening party whilst live-streaming themselves playing Fortnite.

The Onehunga-based group have been making strides over the past few years, enriching a culture defined by community and quietly mentoring a new generation of talent, and The Most Electrifying is a testament to that work. The EP opens with the braggadocious anthem ‘Who Run It’, the first single to be released from the EP last month. The track serves as a bold reminder that SWIDT have successfully cemented themselves as kings in the New Zealand hip-hop scene. Rap royalty with the accolades to boot.

On ‘No Emotions In The Wild’, this energy takes a complete 180. Both production and content-wise, it’s a standout. Its narrative plays out in two parts: the first is a sort of confession laced in vulnerability and doubt. It’s about feeling defeated, depleted, and directionless; growing up in a culture that’s taught you to repress your emotions, to harden up and keep it moving. ‘No Emotions In The Wild’ tackles the tapu subject of youth suicide and the silence that ensues – a situation in which young Māori and Pacific Islander men tend to suffer most. After a first half borne of catharsis, the track’s beat switches up. The kings of the jungle are back, picking themselves up, brushing themselves off, looking in the mirror and recognising real greatness.

This leads into ‘Praise’, the second single released just last week. ‘Praise’ features expert wordplay and effortless flows over a beat that can only be described as heavenly. The message of ‘Praise’ is simple: give us our goddamn due. These men have been grinding for a long time – we’re talking since Scribe dropped Crusader long – and they’ve come a long way. The group has been instrumental in combating a culture obsessed with tall poppy syndrome and maintaining humility. I was fortunate enough to get to ask them about this subject at the VNZMAs last year, and they said it then: “We work so hard all the time, why shouldn’t we celebrate?” There’s nothing wrong with having pride. Just give credit where credit is due, y’know?

‘Mood’ is another standout track. Featuring a smooth chorus from Villette, this track explores the complex relationship artists share with notions of fame and success, and how these things can in turn directly test more personal dynamics with those closest to you. ‘Mood’ brings those little voices in the back of your head to the forefront, and allows the group to vocalise their insecurities around loyalty.

Then comes the track I’ve been most hyped about. ‘Henny Freestyle’ is a certified banger based on title alone, and let me tell you, it does not disappoint. The penultimate track is a low-key flex over the evilest beat. It’s a reminder of everything the group stands for and a warning to anyone looking to usurp the throne.

And finally, the EP is drawn to a close with ‘Facts’. This track follows the same themes as ‘Henny Freestyle’, but sonically, it’s as different as can be. There are slower drum beats and more voice manipulation, and it’s the perfect song to bow out to. They’re not strangers to criticism. They’ve heard what the naysayers have to say, plenty of times in fact. But they know their truth, and that’s all that matters.

The Most Electrifying is a wonderfully self-contained vignette of everything the group has achieved in the past year or so, with masterful production and a victorious narrative. One thing’s certain: SWIDT are here for the long run, and that’s a fact.

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