Album Reviews

Headie One – The Last One

(Columbia) UK release date: 28 June 2024

One of the UK’s most celebrated rappers develops the drill sound on his second studio album

Headie One - The Last One Drill was very much in the ascendancy when Headie One released his seminal debut album Edna in 2020. Since then, the genre has become ubiquitous, overexposed then left behind by the trend-chasers in favour of twangy country guitars. Follow-up album The Last One seems to have been constructed with an awareness of this, as although there are mainstream concessions here and there, most of the record’s 70 minutes are dedicated to street raps and hard-hitting production.

Form 696 is an early highlight, as a swirling melodic loop and syncopated hi-hats accompany tales of drugs and violence (“you ain’t never sat in the bando, had to see your face in the article / sat with a bladed article, belly empty but my heart was full / my fiend on his hands and knees on the carpet picking up particles”). Lonely is a moody mid-tempo tune featuring a sung hook and Potter Payper matching Headie’s energy very well, while Karma sees his longterm musical partner M1OnTheBeat dabble in Jersey Club rhythms, giving the track an extra shot of energy.

The topic of romance comes up on Rapunzel with Headie weighing up his feelings about a new relationship, Ayanna in character as his beau, and Tipsy brings more hedonistic vibes courtesy of Toddla T production and a Missy Elliott guitar sample. Not every track stands out like these – and the star-studded lead single Cry No More is better in theory than execution – but there are still plenty of bangers and lyrical gems to go around, particularly in the record’s final stretch.

The history of UK rap music is an example of perseverance paying off, artists having faith even when the industry’s attention was elsewhere. On The Last One Headie displays exactly this attitude to his craft, developing the drill sound while remaining true to his Tottenham roots.

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Headie One – The Last One