Words: Alex Machin
In 2018, LD released ‘The Masked One’, a stand out individual project with an impressive collection of tracks. Songs such as ‘Detention’ not only demonstrated LD’s raw ability as one of the best drill rappers but exhibited his musical development by combining a melodic hook from Tiggs Da Author.
Since then, it would have been hard to predict that the Brixton artist has put out such a limited amount of music, but the context of his personal situation reveals the difficulties the rapper has faced.
‘Who’s Watching’ arrives out of an important period in LD’s life presenting a deeply personal narrative. The opening track ‘Intro’ begins LD’s story, a descriptive account of the court case he is facing ‘‘Bro said I'm fighting a losing a battle, I stand there ready to try”. It is followed by the distinctive ‘DRILLAMAN’ where LD uses an authentic flow over a hard-hitting beat.
LD switches up the project’s style with ‘Fell in Love’. LD and K Trap rap in-between a hook from Rue Mello, yet it is questionable whether this fusion of sounds work together. Free Smoke follows suit, featuring a melodic chorus from S Loud, which, arguably works better as a track. ‘99 Problems’ is possibly the albums best demonstration of LD’s musical development. He combines his rapping ability with a chorus to impressive effect. Over a softer trap beat, the rapper is comfortable varying his flow.
LD is at his best on ‘Rich Porter’ which premiered on GRM Daily. The guitar based loop from producer 169 is layered with a heavy bass sound. The rapper is effortless on this type of beat, he adds to this with a rhythmic hook. The penultimate track ‘Out On Bail’ is a better example of LD using his flow and wordplay to express his story. ‘Outro’ sees the iconic link up of LD and producer Carns Hill. The track captivates LD’s story, the key moment of the project where the rapper establishes his comeback “LD is the truth and that be the word on the pavement”.
There are moments in the album where LD expresses his narrative, which, is developed effectively with his distinctive tone. However, at times the album lacks coherence. The inclusion of softer tracks that employ melodic hooks shows LD’s adaptation, but at times their placement in the album seems disjointed.
LD is a pioneer of the UK drill sound, yet the genre has developed since the early days of 67. The project might not have obvious similarities with original 67 tracks like ‘Take It There’ and ‘Let’s Lurk’, but the album is a product of LD’s personal and musical development. The drill sound is evolving, but so is LD, he adapts his sound but still maintains his authentic credentials. LD is a gifted rapper and a legend of the UK drill scene, ‘Who’s Watching’ consolidates his status, “I’m the realist in drill how these rap boys out here questioning me”.