After banger after banger building steady a few million views on YouTube, the boys from Brum are back with more than most of us bargained for. Regional talent is finally getting the recognition it deserves in the UK, and Birmingham is leading. Lotto boyzz’s Afrobbean is a celebration of Ash and Lucas’ rich heritage, sensual slow mos and all-round crowd pleasers that puts bums on seats and sly smirks on faces for most, including me. Six tracks does not do their fusion genre full justice, but it functions as a self-assured introduction for those who have been hiding under a rock for the past year or so. No more mistaking the sweet boys for one trick ponies, but as more long-term players in the game.
It’s no secret that “Birmingham (Anthem)” has had most of us screaming like we’re Grand Central locals. Celebrating their dual identity as products of the Afro-Caribbean diaspora is clearly a point of pride for them, as well as being Brummies too. The pixelated cover art is multi-dimensional, blending the duos’ faces and reflecting the mesh of texture and flavour their sound promises. As part of the emerging pattern of African and Caribbean artists reverting to sounds from home to articulate an experience that doesn’t revolve around hypermasculinity, violence and crime that can sometimes characterise UK’s male artists, the duo have done well to tap into a young audience that is alive and thriving in the UK.
“No Don” is a guaranteed crowd pleaser, even more so with Chip and Not3s on the remix, their playful wordplay working well alongside the boys’ sultry but strong vocals. For some reason, I prefer the original, probably because my soft spot for the Birmingham accent won’t die easily. On a more serious note, it is interesting to compare the way that the Brum accent’s clipped endings slightly alter the duos’ endings compared to their London counterparts on the track. “Unfinished Business” is a tease. With its visuals coming soon, it’s your typical love song, minus the cringe factor. Put it on when no one else is at home so you can belt out the one liners with passion.
Seeing Lotto boyzz perform at New Gen’s Lovebox stage last summer and their following it up with material of this calibre shows they’re about music, and they’re good at it. Afrobbean’s reception matters, but combined with their recent “Best Newcomer” nomination for the MOBOS, their talent is undeniable. Ash and Lucas have already been embraced by fans and brands alike. With continued consistency, there’s no reason why this shouldn’t continue.
By Danielle Koku