Liam Gallagher delivers the greatest record Oasis never made – the week’s best albums

Yeshi, Universal Credit ★★★★☆

In 1982 the subversive single Wham Rap! by British pop duo Wham. celebrated the benefits of being an “unemployed boy”. Forty years later, British rapper Jeshi takes a completely different path. Sure, there’s celebration on his remarkable debut album, Universal Credit, but the mood is more somber than lofty as he doggedly documents life in austere Britain.

The 27-year-old East Londoner is a high-energy newcomer who has previously worked with British soul singer Celeste and released an impressive string of records. He is one of a group of British rappers – including Dave, Little Simz and slowthai – who have no hesitation in translating the realities of life in Britain with an uncompromising attention to detail.

Jeshi doesn’t mince words at Universal Credit. The references are candid, from the satirical title (he made the album while receiving Universal Credit during the pandemic, and the cover shows him writing a huge check for £324.84, the current monthly allowance, from men in suits in the festive style) to the conciseness of writing inside. He compensates for a litany of social ills — drugs, knife crime, social media — with mentions of vacations, P45s and Loose Women, and deeply personal tracks like Two Mums, a hymn to his mother and grandmother, the women who raised him, stakes of a sentiment of intimacy and humanity to remove some of the stigma of unemployment.

The album begins with a vignette of London sounds, from bus announcements to the tantalizing thump of a nightclub, found samples running through: automated messages from the job center, a phone alert that injects a relatable panic into an already anxiety-ridden record. These snippets help create a pleasantly textured realm, reinforced by Jeshi’s leaning towards other genres, from the rave-inspired 3210, with its deep synth and clattering beat, to the haunting vocals of Nigerian guest artist Obongjayar.

Jeshi claim a unique place in the British rap world. Universal Credit is atmospheric and dour but never loses its sense of urgency. It’s not a merry celebration of the good times to be enjoyed at £324.84 a month; Instead, the album advocates perseverance in the face of grim reality. Kate French Morris

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/music/what-to-listen-to/liam-gallagher-album-review-cmon-know-def-leppard-sean-paul/ Liam Gallagher delivers the greatest record Oasis never made – the week’s best albums


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