‘The Gentleman’s Club’ (Frankie Stew & Harvey Gunn’s debut mixtape) was released several months ago. It was well received with everyone. Along with its release (available on Bandcamp) and several singular tracks dropped on YouTube gave the duo a strong foundation to work from. The credibility gained is evident in the fact that any Hip Hop head in the Brighton will have nothing but praise for the two’s musical ability and it looks like the word is spreading across the UK and further.
This positive feedback was manifested in the form of a sponsorship & management deal with ‘788 clothing’. After that, they announced the ‘Paid to List£n’ mixtape, which you can find embedded at the bottom of this review.
Several busy months for the both of them, with Frankie performing at festivals and venues with Concept of Thought, and Harvey working on side projects including a beat tape on Bandcamp. Meant that the release of the mixtape was pushed back a few times. Nevertheless, a few weeks of solid work on the project means it is now ready.
The first track that grabbed my attention was ‘At First Sight 2’. The smooth oriental sounding sample, led with a string instrument is accompanied nicely with an understated drum pattern and bassline.
In terms of the theme of the lyrics, ‘At First Sight 2’ is comparable to those in ‘Just Another Day’. The main difference being the overall tone of the track. Frankie and Harvey use less ominous rapping / production in ‘Just Another Day’ which was released on YouTube a few months ago. This was one of the first examples of Frankie singing his own chorus since The Gentleman’s Club.
Frankie’s ability to rap with a more sung voice is apparent in these tracks. Amongst other things, having a rapper who can consistently vocal his own hooks is a massive bonus to the duo’s armoury.
Another being Harvey’s talent for finding and slicing nice samples like it was nothing. The mixtape is laced with various skits to break up the tracks. Each one with enough for you to expect a track out of. I can picture a lot of people getting into contact with Harvey for extended versions for them to vocal. This isn’t limited to rappers. An example being ‘Fonecall Part 2 – Kwryde’ which reminds of me of RnB singers and is the sort of thing I can imagine someone like The Weeknd working on.
Another track I want to talk about is ‘Background’. This track has major potential in underground music, as you will understand when you listen to it. I’ll start off with the beat; A nice ZZ. Hill sample that was also sampled by Madlib in his ‘Madvillain’ album with MF DOOM. The questions I found myself asking was…who flipped it better? Harvey Gunn or Madlib?
This track is a perfect example of how Frankie can adapt his rapping style to suit an instrumental. The upbeat slices will make it difficult not to nod along to and the all round character of this song will make it a UK Hip Hop classic.
This links with the rolling hi-hats and echoes on the claps in ‘Monologue’ suit the downtempo 90’s garage-sounding sample. The almost spoken word vocals are another illustration of how Frankie’s flow changes effortlessly.
I’ve spoken a lot about how I think Frankie & Harvey work from each other and are versatile with their style. The one track that I think sums this up perfectly is ‘1994’. Frankie demonstrates the rawness of his material (similar to that in ‘Your Love’), which proves to sceptics his range of topical lyricism. “Staring like you want to do something, beat so smooth ain’t even got to do nothing” pretty much sums up the production on this. If Kev Brown was making beats in the early 90’s I can imagine his stuff sounding like this.
‘1994’ is probably my favourite track from the ‘Paid To List£n’ project. Everyone will have their own opinions because this mixtape has so much diversity, any genre of Hip Hop you listen to, this will appeal to you.
One of the reasons ‘Paid To List£n’ is so good is that Frankie Stew and Harvey Gunn keep it simple. Harvey’s production is mostly sliced up samples and a drum pattern with little else added. Frankie’s bars are all about what he knows and what he has experienced. Nothing is forced. Everything is natural.
Written by Charlie Hyams.