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A little over a year since waking up in intensive care after being shot in the head, Coventry’s breakout star Pa Salieu stakes a claim to being the most exciting rising talent in UK rap.
Since January’s breakout hit ‘Frontline’ catapulted his unorthodox sound into the limelight, Salieu’s debut mixtape ‘Send Them To Coventry’ caps off what has been a defining year for the 22-year-old. Bringing together his lived experiences of poverty and violence in the West Midlands with his Gambian heritage, the new project unapologetically floats between genres while mapping out a unique space for Pa to command.
Opening track ‘Block Boy’ kicks off the mixtape with a searing anthem dedicated to his life growing up in Hillfields, Coventry: “Look, my name is Pa and I’m from Hillset, bust gun, dodge slugs, got touched, skipped death,” he spits. Commanding and infectious in his delivery, the visceral track is a fitting introduction to the rest of the project. “I talk a lot of violence but this is the style of my story,” he told us back in our interview with the West Midlands lyricist. “You have to hear where I’m coming from first.”
Upon initial release, tracks such as ‘Frontline’, ‘Betty’ and ‘My Family’ featuring BackRoad Gee, were big factors in the rapper’s success story thanks to their emotive and captivating nature. Throughout the project, Salieu explores a diverse range of emotions in his work, operating in the blurred space between dancehall, Afroswing and UK road rap to articulate his feelings.
On ‘More Paper’ featuring Eight9FLY, a sparkling sequence of soft-rock synths switches up the sound once again, showing the rapper’s tendency to venture into the unexpected.
The mixtape boasts some previously unheard collaborations with M1llionz on ‘Informa’, Mahalia on ‘Energy’, and Trinidadian artist Boy Boy on ‘No Warnin’, while production from the likes of Felix Joseph, AOD, Jevon, Yussef Dayes and slowthai collaborator Kwes Darko, assures that Salieu’s blistering sound is done justice.
Despite still being in a relatively early stage of his career, the Coventry rapper already possesses a star factor which makes him hard to ignore. His ability to switch between drill, hip hop, Afrobeats, and melody-driven styles with ease makes him a perfect artist for the modern generation of rap.