Mixtape Review: Clavish Takes Step Forward On ‘Rap Game Awful’

Joe Simpson

By Joe Simpson

Joe Simpson

13 Jan 2023

Clavish is an artist who has been rightly touted as one of the most exciting talents coming out of the UK scene. Still in the early stages of his career, the rapper has been making waves since his Mad About Bars in 2019, as well as delivering the distinguished EP ‘2022’ a year ago. Already securing a guest appearance on Nines’ ‘Crabs In A Bucket’ and a Dave co-sign, Clavish has carved his own pathway to success. His first full-length project, ‘Rap Game Awful’, sees the artist turn this potential into results. The project is lyrically assured, while the variety of instrumentals allow Clavish to showcase his ability on an array of soundscapes.

The tape kicks off with ‘Rap Game Intro’, an ethereal instrumental that Clavish glides across effortlessly. His signature slow flow makes the rapper unique in his approach to attacking beats. This in turn allows for a wider variety of instrumentals, complementing Clavish’s more laid back style in comparison to his peers in the UK Rap scene. The warped loop on the ‘Rap Game Awful’ beat offers a standout moment on the project, allowing the rapper to find his groove and deliver one of his best lyrical performances to date. 

With the tracklist weighing in at a monster 28 songs, both the artist and his producers have the opportunity experiment with different sounds, bringing much needed range to the tape. We see an interpolation of Busta Rhymes’ classic ‘I Know What You Want’ on the track ‘Roll With A G’ featuring Tiggs Da Author, as well as Clavish moving into a more Trap Wave sound on songs like ‘Rocket Science’ and ‘Enemies’, featuring D-Block Europe and Kirky respectively. The diversity of sound is necessary at such a long run time, but Clavish really does make it look like a walk in the park on whatever beat he steps on.

The features across the record further help to diversify its sound. Frosty shows chemistry with Clavish on the bouncy cut ‘She Wanna’, while Clavish shows he can hang with some of the greats of UK Rap on ‘4 Of Us’, linking up with Rimzee, Youngs Teflon and Tiny Boost. Kaash Paige brings an R&B flavour to the record on ‘Trying’, and Manchester rapper Jordan offsets Clavish’s elegant flows with a tirade of ferocious bars on ‘Ideal World’. Perhaps the best feature on the record comes from Fredo on ‘Monday To Sunday’. Both artists have a similar poise when it comes to their approach to a song, and it feels as if Clavish can take inspiration from Fredo when it comes to his next steps to superstardom.

Lyrically, Clavish has already become known for his punchy one liners and clever wordplay. His latest offering is no different and in some areas the rapper has even elevated his pen game. On ‘Traumatised’, he raps, ‘Streets is fake, Rap Game worse, I don’t even wanna participate, me and Kodak Black alike, I don’t even rap I Illustrate’. Clavish is correct in this statement, as he is able to paint a picture with the words he spits vividly. One of the highlights of the tape comes right at the end on ‘Rap Game Outro’, where the artist delves into storytelling in a way that we haven’t seen before in his career. While there are smart bars about N’Golo Kanté on ‘Rap Game Awful’, or the now famous Santorini punchline on ‘Greece’, the final track of the project really showcases the potential of the artist and demonstrates why he is so hotly tipped to be one of the leading figures in the game for years to come.

‘Rap Game Awful’ therefore is a strong exhibition of Clavish’s talents. The rapper has shown that he is more than a one trick pony and in many ways has lived up to the hype that has preceded him for the majority of his career. While fans of the artist will be delighted at such a lengthy output, the project is too long at 28 tracks and even though it allows for experimentation, it feels as if the tape would have been better overall if it was more concise. That is not to say that Clavish disappoints on ‘Rap Game Awful’, but instead shows that even as he takes strides up the ladder to the upper echelons of UK Rap, the artist still has room left to grow.

Star Rating: 3.5/5