Release of the Week 17/9: Belly Squad “Ribena”

“London’s own Belly Squad lay down a solid beat as a tease for big things to come” @bellysquad

Following up from their single ‘Missing’ with Headie One released in April this year, London based rap group Belly Squad have returned with a solid beat in ‘Ribena’, producing a light, easy-to-listen to track. Mixing rap and afrobeat over a tropical house groove, the trio show the world exactly why they are trailblazers in the British hip hop scene.

While mumble rap and repetitive trap beats might be defining hip hop and rap on one side of the Atlantic, Belly Squad have emerged from the dynamic London underground which has lately produced some of the more innovative artists in this genre. ‘Ribena’ opens with a lighter and softer beat than what is typically produced in rap today. Slow paced high hats and a marimba melody, that nodes to the reggae and dancehall influences of this act, create a more relaxing and uplifting rhythmic base than the darker sounds that dominate the scene. At a calm 105bpm, this light tone is the release’s biggest strength, giving it an approachability that is often missing from hip hop songs. The appropriately titled ‘Ribena’ draws clear inspiration from the refreshing taste of the titular blackcurrant drink on a hot summers day, and goes down just as easy. With a grounded beat behind them, the rap trio are free to lay down their verses, showing that as good as they are as producers, they are equally strong rappers. Each of the three tell a short tale of modern love and life, with their distinct London accents giving their music a strong sense of locality. Their flow, while not particularly challenging, compliments the relaxed tone of the beat. The repeated hook, echoing “bena” into the verses, is the best written part of the track, using the fusion of the Afro-Carribbean heritages that Belly Squad draw on to create an undoubtedly new afrobeat sound, which cements itself in the listener’s memory. It is catchy in the best way possible.

As their sixth single in 2018, ‘Ribena’ shows that Belly Squad only seem to be getting better and better as they consistently deliver unique, well-produced tracks.