Ghetts is at his most evocative on 'Ghetto Gospel: The New Testament'

East London legend Ghetts released his long-awaited album Ghetto Gospel: The New Testament last Friday. Although he took a gamble by branding it as the follow-up to his 2007 classic, this album by far delivers; it presents Ghetts in his current mindset and attitude, and demonstrates his range, variety, intellect, consciousness, skill and continued consistency.

“You waited for hands and help, I played the hand I was dealt. Facts / You come from a family of wealth, I had to grab it myself. Facts / I earned all three of those trophies on Mum’s front room cabinet shelf / In economy thinking about first class ‘cause I ain’t your average male.”

Throughout the album, the Plaistow artist produces a colourful assortment of songs – the spiritual, the meaningful, the energetic, the thought-provoking, the soulful, and the real. He recently posted an insightful checklist to Instagram, which reveals the five ingredients in his recipe for success: "substance, lyrical, clarity, gas, passion". The “what’s good, cuz, what’s cracklin'?” spitter has truly evolved into a wholesome artist—one who carefully selects immaculate instrumentals in order to support his vision—and has gone so far as to even form his own Ghetto Gospel Choir.

Although not one song is similar, there's a common thread throughout the album: a juxtaposition of darkness and light. Starting with the harshness of "Pick Up The Phone" and "Halloween", this eases up as "Purple Sky" introduces a delicacy from GH and Wretch 32. A church feel emerges and streams perfectly through "Hand On The Bible" and "Preach", which then evolves into the soulful but lyrical "Spiritual Warfare". The crud returns in "Houdini" with a ferocious feature from Suspect. This rhetoric seems to repeat itself, exposing the listener to all types of sounds and emotions, though not allowing them to become settled, or to predict what's to follow.

Interesting about this album is its breadth of perspectives – as though Ghetts is embodying these unique characters that may not have the ability or platform to voice their realities. He connects with them, allows it to resonate in his music and seemingly creates this deliberate focus for the album, whilst rarely speaking from his own voice. This shift of narratives is something rarely seen by MCs, especially on this level or with this diversity of subjects – another notion for Ghetts’ impressive evolution, an artist who can genuinely connect with a multitude of listeners from all backgrounds.

"Jess Song" is by far one of the most tragic but beautifully-represented realities that Ghetts has attempted, whilst "Next Of Kin" delivers an honest representative of the lives of inner-city young males, the roads, its crime, following consequences and concluding mourning. "King" is another stimulating song to touch on – an explosive but calm, say-it-with-your-chest assertion of who’s at the top, featuring wicked input from the phenomenal Little Simz who subverts gender norms with her recurring motif of calling herself a King. "Halloween" comes as a spooky, raw depiction of cold streets – which pairs a hollow, bell-driven timbre with police sirens and high synths; sharp snares which create a continued motion and push and distorted guitars that whip like harsh winds. Screams, yells, growls and barks from the road are seemingly represented in the adlibs.

Ghetts allows us a rare and personal insight into his mindset in the form of the Ghettsibition, an art exhibition which took place in Kachette, East London shortly before the album's release. At the event, he participated in an in-depth interview with Akala, which can be streamed in full below:

“My daughter, she’s a princess / The world ain’t slaughtering her skin yet / These Kanyes have not become important to the Kims yet / But when she gets older, there’ll be brothers same colour as her papa / Who will not be showing any sort of interest.”

It's great to see this grime and rap veteran get the props, love and significance he deserves, especially for one who has seemingly never strayed from himself or from what he wants to make. As grime fans we know Ghetto, Ghetts, Justin Clarke, and what his talent produces, but hopefully this album can serve as a breath of fresh air for the scene, and can reinvigorate other artists with a similar passion, creativity, and intellect. This sophisticated body of work – a representation of London life, a portrayal of its characters and a current time-stamp of artistic evolution  is a well-constructed blueprint to start with.

Thank you Ghetts – for the past, present and future.

Ghetto Gospel: The New Testament
1. "Caution" (prod. The Confect, Naldo and Kid D)
2. "Pick Up The Phone" feat. President T (prod. Sir Spyro)
3. "Halloween" (prod. Da Beatfreakz, The Confect and Kad Keys)
4. "London" (prod. Shy FX and Breakage)
5. "Purple Sky" feat. Wretch 32 (prod. The Confect & Naldo)
6. "Hand On The Bible" feat. Ghetto Gospel Choir (prod. The Confect, Naldo and Kad Keys)
7. "Preach" feat. Donae’o (prod. Swifta Beater)
8. "Spiritual Warfare" feat. Leah McFall and Jordy (prod. The Confect and Naldo)
9. "Houdini" feat. Suspect (prod. Lex On The Beat, The Confect and Naldo)
10. "Next Of Kin" feat. Ghetto Gospel Choir, Rukhsana Merrise and The Confect (prod. The Confect and Naldo)
11. "No Love" feat. JayBay and Ryan De La Cruz (prod. The Confect and Naldo)
12. "King" feat. Little Simz (prod. The Confect and Naldo)
13. "Slumdog Millionaire" feat. Stefflon Don (prod. Justin Clarke, Magnum Larry and Nutty P)
14. "Shellington Crescent" feat. Chip (prod. Sir Spyro)
15. "Jess Song" (prod. Chris Penny)
16. "Window Pain" (prod. Kid D and Chris Penny)
17. "Black Rose" feat. Kojey Radical (prod. The Confect, Naldo, Allana Mai Clarke Samuel and Justin Clarke)