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Tugg Melodies Ape Colours Arusa Qureshi , December 14th, 2022 08:53

The Catford MC takes a reflective turn on his latest mixtape

In recent years, drill has cemented itself as a significant cultural entity in the UK, labelled by many as the authentic sound of the streets. Its commercial success, in addition, has been helped along by a host of viral hits and a host of artists that are consistently putting their own spin on the sub-genre. Falling firmly in this category is Catford’s Ghostface600, a purveyor of the more melodic and trap-infused wave-drill, which the artist has been developing both as a soloist and formerly as a member of UK drill group Block6. With his new mixtape Tugg Melodies Ape Colours, Ghostface once again pushes the boundaries of the genre, presenting a project that merges sincerity and vulnerability with the raw, unfiltered energy of drill.

In its title, Tugg Melodies Ape Colours pays homage to Ghostface’s late friend Tugga but throughout the mixtape, there are references and nods to the sense of grief that comes with losing a friend, as well as wider discussions on topics like mental health. Opener ‘720HRS’, for example, sets the tone with a gentle piano chord introduction and Ghostface’s lone voice before the beat enters, a feeling of stillness providing space for poignant lyricism about his personal struggles. ‘Blue Mat’, meanwhile, is a reflective, slowed down meditation on the sadness of losing friends to the system, its defined hook of “I ain’t never been the same since you went away” ringing out amidst the melodic beat.

The power of this mixtape lies in the way Ghostface utilises melodic drill to such great effect, such as in the measured yet commanding ‘Best Company’ or ‘Runaway’, which once again features a piano-based instrumental woven around vocals that have the feeling of being pained in their execution. This occurs again on ‘Dragon Tattoo’, where Ghostface enlists R&B singer Dxinx for a quiet, emotive duet, allowing the range in her voice to shine as she depicts the frustrations of one side of a relationship.

Elsewhere, there are more outwardly gritty drill tracks, like the combative ‘Big 44 No Safety’ or closing banger ‘La City’, which features artists SNG, DELARUÀ, Ricaasszz, Sepa and Dirty Harry. It’s a fitting end to the mixtape, showcasing contrasting voices with the addition of some skilful Portuguese rapping, in a way that draws attention to drill’s perpetual emphasis on collaboration.

Tugg Melodies Ape Colours isn’t necessarily representative of Ghostface600 as we’ve seen him before; rather it’s a project that feels much more personal and genuine in its inclusion of heavier subject matters. The energising and heavy-hitting elements of drill are still there, but there is a pronounced melancholy in his instrumental and vocal choices, which point to a continued sense of progression in both Ghostface’s work and the genre more widely.