The Runcborn Rapper/Producer proves himself to be not only a fantastic lyrical rapper but an equally good curator too.
For most of UK rap’s history, Southern artists have dominated the genre. Yes, a few have come out of places like Manchester and Birmingham, but whatever London says is trendy becomes the trend for the rest of the UK rappers.
This is where an artist like Dr Lekta stands out; not only is he not from London, but he also doesn’t conform to today’s trending soundscapes. His style is more akin to that of MF Doom or Roc Marciano, gritty New York-style storytelling that is rarely seen by any artists in the UK.
The Manuscript feels like an ode to boom-bap rap while still sounding modern and fresh, and this is obvious from the album’s opening title track.
Lekta conveys conscious and brutally honest lyrics over simple, lofi, J-Dilla-like production. It feels like an introduction to Lekta’s life and who he is behind his rapping persona, which feels unique in an era of flexing and facades.
Lekta follows this up with “Stay Sharp,” which features a brilliant Pete Rock-style beat that feels like it could’ve been a well-hidden secret from the Pete Rock and C.L. Smooth days.
Not to mention the chopped-up Gang Starr sample that adds to the track’s authenticity.
The track also features Jadakiss, who spits a typically gritty and well-written 16, which has got to be second nature to him at this point.
However, Lekta holds his own, even alongside an experienced rapper like Kiss. Utilising a similar old-school flow, Lekta shows a lot of personality through his lyrics, like this line, for example:
“These wannabes don’t want beef. I’ll be running through their properties, aiming for jugulars and their main arteries.”
He also uses charming and clever pop culture references, from rapping about Kurt Angle to Sean Connery’s 1996 film The Rock.
“Punchline Mafia”, four tracks later, is a fantastic song and showcases Lekta’s seemingly natural talent for wordplay and charming double entredes. As the name suggests, the rapper goes punchline after punchline in a way that feels like you’re always one step behind his wordsmithing. One of my favourite lines is:
“I’m from a place that’s dark and gloomy, where it’s hard to manage like Wayne Rooney”. Referring to both Rooney’s sometimes unstable temperament as a player and his time as Darby’s manager, which saw the club get relegated.
Along with his rapping ability, Lekta’s ability to create and curate well-crafted beats and samples has to be seriously applauded. Whether it’s producing or beat selecting, both require a certain taste and understanding of the genre, and Lekta seems to have both by the bucket load.
“Big Twins” are a perfect feature to match with the grimy, street instrumental of Darkside,” and the featured artist on “All in Life” has a slick C.L. Smooth-type flow that connects well with the chorus.
Score/Excellent: There’s a lot to love about Dr Lekta’s passion for old-school hip-hop and entertaining wordplay. He demands the listeners’ attention through his vocal presence and flow, and he can even hold his own against Hip-Hop’s best and brightest. While some songs do sometimes feel monotonous and overly simplistic in their choruses, it doesn’t take away from the album’s overall shine.
Follow Dr Lekta:
[We rank albums on a scale of: Poor, Good, Mediocre, Excellent, Outstanding]