Step On The Gas, Allez
In a year where big name artists have largely failed to mesmerise, 2021 has remained a phenomenal year for the underground. It's fitting then, that in a month that saw the release of Certified Lover Boy, Montero, A Beginner's Mind and more, September's most standout song emerged from humble, but ambitious, origins.
If you haven't heard of French the Kid already, you will do soon. Poised to explode into the mainstream, this artist has developed from a promising creator and into one of the most exciting figures in the UK scene over the matter of months. Accumulating an increasingly strong catalogue of singles, September's 'Thrill' should be the moment that French never looks back from.
Hearing Deep Cover's Shryke spin 'Thrill' for the first time on the radio nearly made me crash my car out of over-excitement. It's a statement of creative ability, imagination and it's a song that really sounds like the arrival of something important. Hailing from Essex (with time spent as a child in Southern France), French breathes authenticity into every track he graces with his bars, and this is him performing at a level beyond even his high standard. Twisting flows together with the flexibility of a master far beyond his age, the way the artist swaps rhythms from [1:20-1:135] is obscene. He should not sound this good this soon but, somehow, he does.
As French gets into gear on the first verse, his attention to melody is immediately apparent. Amidst references to masks, bartenders and four by fours, it would be easy to disregard this song as one with little to say lyrically, but it's anything but. Quickly the expected imagery of UK rap dissipates, and as the song turns from "got all the girls round, tryna feel this wave" to "never looked back when I saw that grave", it becomes clear that French the Kid is an artist with something meaningful to say. There is a tangible emotion underpinning this single, and hanging its infectious chorus on a line as quietly introspective as "you don't know me, but you know my face", 'Thrill' is a song with unexpected depth.
This depth arrives even firmer in the track's final verse as the artist makes good on his name while speaking in French. Where the words before had gestured towards past pains, it is in these final references to "mon frère vendait la drogue, il me disait gros c'est la vie" matched with "Je fais que boire, je fume mes clopes et je pense aux belles mélodies" that 'Thrill' ascends from just being a fantastic UK rap single, and into an unexpectedly revealing insight into who this artist is.
But as much as French deserves his credit on crafting one of the UK's best songs this year, producer Lovelife needs equal respect. This is one of the best beats of 2021, simple as. The way the bass breaks down the door as each chorus unfurls is in many ways the real star of the single. It's indescribably mad. These are the kind of instrumentals that you can't write anything about, the music is so good, there's no way I could describe how perfectly Lovelife's work matches French's style.
'Thrill' is the result of excellence meeting excellence. Lovelife and French are a match made in rap Valhalla, and they've built one of 2021's most essential tunes through emotional vulnerability, inventive flows and a nasty fucking beat. You need to know who these guys are, and you need to listen to 'Thrill' immediately.
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