The Planet Mu artist's cinematic debut LP navigates several hip-hop styles with ease.
That situation might be alluded to in the track title, "Limbo," whose sparse drums and low-end are typical of Free For All. That track's dramatic piano, choral samples and organ make it sound ominous without overcooking it. There's a sharpness and clarity to Baha's production that serves the vocal collaborations particularly well. "When The Sun's Gone" features cloud rapper Yung Lean murmuring in a flow as laconic as the track's rhythm. The Chicago footwork producer DJ Nate spits testosterone-drunk bars on "Thugs." By contrast, the UK drill artist Dimzy is frosty on "Discreet." Most interesting of all is "Ahl El M8na," where the Egyptian duo Dawsha and Abanob trade hyperactive verses in Arabic.
Baha's production skills are clear across Free For All. Fans of instrumental grime artists like Slackk will find much to admire in the austere yet precisely constructed "Aliens," whose sense of space is uncommonly sophisticated. Like many grime artists, Baha has been strongly inspired by video games. The title Free For All references multi-player games. A riff on "Gambit" has a boss-fight feel. (A track of his from 2014, "Chunk," sampled Mortal Kombat.) But the music is often more cinematic than 2D graphic. That's especially true of the sun-baked guitar line that closes "Cold Pursuit." It gives Free For All a poignant ending, and a sense of a new beginning.
Thu / 28 Jun 2018
01. Cash Rain
02. Discreet feat. Dimzy
05. Thugs feat. DJ Nate
06. Free For All
08. When The Sun's Gone feat. Yung Lean
09. Path Riot
10. Glory feat. Kufura
11. Ahl El M8na feat. Dawsha & Abanob
13. Cold Pursuit