HAPPY NEW YEAR and welcome to my first mixtape review of 2012! This year is indeed going to be a madness for the website and for UK music in general. I hope you all had an excellent Christmas and NYE; I know I did. Anyway, let’s get down to business.
The Wait by L Marshall, released in November 2011, is an R&B mixtape, so I’m slightly out of my comfort zone as I’m more akin to listening to hip-hop – but I suppose it’s always good to try new things! You’ll be forgiven if you’re wondering who L Marshall is, so let’s get acquainted.
Despite the fact that half-Nigerian L first entered the scene in 2009 with My Ex, I, like many others, first heard the singer when he provided the chorus vocals on Wretch 32’s Traktor in January 2011, just a few months after graduating from university. During his career in music, the twenty-four year old has collaborated with and written for artists such as Loick Essien, Benny Banks, Sincere, Maxsta and Mz Bratt. Having just signed a deal with Mercury Records along with the release of The Wait, L Marshall seems set on making 2012 his year.
The opening track, King, sounds futuristic and mechanical – if music can be mechanical that is! The production is immense; it’s definitely the kind of track you want to be hearing on full volume with a sick sub-woofer. I love L’s delivery, and you can hear how musically talented this man really is. From a technical point of view, his musicality is top standard. His lyrics are clever and fit in with the futuristic feel of the track with the references to space, the universe and stars. Despite the fact that I am not usually a huge fan of auto-tuned vocals, it fits in really well with the general idea and feel of the song. A banger of an opener, and I am instantly not just wanting, but needing to hear more from this man. Followed with a short interlude where the production continues at the high standard heard in the first track, L gives us a small glimpse into his personal life, focussing on his love for his six month old daughter.
The title track is next. I’m loving L’s clever wordplay within his lyrics, which I’m not surprised about seeing as he has written tracks for many singers and groups already. Another attractive quality is his confidence without being overly cocky, which some new artists seem to overlook; he states “I very rarely show off cos I naturally go hard”. Time Up, the second interlude, is what I can only describe as a teaser track, sang over a chilled out dubstep beat. L states that “the chick’s so bad, she didn’t say much”, and this theme of the lack of communication or words is continued over the remaining forty-five seconds. The lyrics are repetitive and don’t really say much, but this is in no way a criticism, in fact it has made me want to hear more of this story of what I’m guessing is a past girlfriend, and I’m left wondering (and hoping) whether L will come back to this mystery girl later on in the mixtape.
So Cold follows, and it’s another dubsteppy track, where L is singing about a lost love – something everyone can relate to in one way or another, and even if you can’t, the vocals are beautiful and the production is again top class. I’m really being taken out of my comfort zone – no hip-hop and loads of dubstep!! But I kinda like it. The next track is Live Like This, and I’m immediately loving it because it samples a few words of life advice from hilarious US comedian Katt Williams. It’s a real feel-good song, with uplifting, inspirational lyrics about taking control of your life and doing things your way, and L asks “who wouldn’t wanna live like this?”.
Newham based MC Maxsta features on Beast, a track featuring some beats that I can only describe as kind of totemic and haunting… which I love. L shows off his rapping skills about a minute into the track and I love his rapping voice. I won’t say anything else on that matter before I get a bit too excited. Maxsta goes in with his bars; he and L work really well as a pair and I feel as though the track could have gone on for a further few minutes and I’d have sat and listened with immense pleasure.
The next track is seriously chilled out A340, presumably named after the jet airliner, where L gives us an insight into the pressures of working in the music industry. He talks about “[laying] back in my seat, cruising altitude of thirty-thousand feet”, and “life is a bastard, so I just wanna get high” – I’m liking the wordplay. A very deep, philosophical track with wholesome, mellow beats and smooth, effortless vocals, and L’s stunning a cappella feature at the end really makes the track. A really beautiful three minutes. L’s first ever single, My Ex, is next. I feel as though L may be singing about the same girl that he was introducing us to in Time Up, heard earlier on in the mixtape. Again, another track for pretty much everyone to relate to. Lying follows and I love the electro sounds and the tribal elements to the track, perhaps influenced by the time he spent living in Nigeria?
Nightbus reminds me slightly of Drake – though I definitely prefer L Marshall! I love the minimalist nature of this song, with the main focus being on the lyrics and the story. The production is, again, fantastic. The track is haunting and captivating – one of the productions where, as a listener, you really feel as though you’ve been transported right into the mind of the artist. Another beautiful track. The closing track is an acoustic version of Traktor, where L explains his growth into an artist, opening with the line “a year ago and I had just finished uni, did this one track and everybody knew me; and I don’t know just how to feel, hit record, I don’t even have a deal”. L shouts out to Maxsta, Mz Bratt and Wretch 32. The rawness of the song is cool, and showcases L’s true talent for singing and writing lyrics, and the chorus embodies a whole different meaning when accompanied with L’s verses.
As a whole, this is a wonderful mixtape. The production, as I may have mentioned before, is absolutely incredible – one-hundred percent on point. I love the lyrics, the clever wordplay and the truth and rawness of L’s artistry. The Wait was truly worth the wait. Original, exciting, fresh, futuristic and authentic, I can’t wait to hear a full studio album. With only one guest feature in Maxsta, all eyes (well, ears) are on L Marshall, and I wouldn’t want them to be anywhere else!
L Marshall – The Wait
Maxsta ft L Marshall – Spit Fire
The talented songwriter and vocalist that you heard on Wretch 32’s critically acclaimed No.5 hit, Traktor ft Wretch 32
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