There’s a sense that Avelino remains under-rated. The North London rapper has secured hits under his own steam, appeared as featured artist on some bona fide pop released, but he doesn’t quite have the cache some of his peers enjoy. It’s curious conundrum: Charlie Sloth hailed his Fire In The Booth as the hardest of all time, while anyone who can link with Dave (on the hard-hitting ‘Cassius Clay’) or Stormzy and Skepta on the same track (the blazing ‘Energy’) must be blessed with natural talent.
‘EGO KILLS’ is his first mixtape in five years, and it finds Avelino stating his case as an artist, not a hitmaker. Returning to the skills that made his name, it’s a record which presents a lyrically finessed MC, one whose penmanship can move from side-splitting braggadocio to revealing introspection within the same track.
‘Demons’ is a crucial opening statement, one in which the central figure feels palpably on edge. Seguing into the bolshy ‘100K’, Avelino is case to use his features to maximum effect – he wants to unite other voices, but he also wants his own to remain at the forefront.
As a result, guests are used sparingly. Krept heightens ‘Easy’ with his crisp flow, while Yungen and Not3s unite on crisp mover ‘Control’. Indeed, collaboration provides an entrance point into one of the album’s most revealing moments: having previously releasing a split mixtape with Wretch 32, the North London artists re-unite on ‘Me And My Friends’.
A record that draws on stylistically diverse production pools – the drill elements of ‘Waze’, the clear nods to Avelino’s grime heritage, and his interest in Stateside sounds – ‘Ego Kills’ also manages to distill this, and forge a quite singular sound. Strengthened by a bold mid-section – the one-two of bass slugger ‘Audacious’ and ‘Late Night Rolling’ – it’s a project which doesn’t allow the pace to slacken.
Intense and highly creative, ‘Ego Kills’ finds Avelino focussing purely on the art – and it’s a solid reminder that he remains one of the finest out there.
Words: Robin Murray
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