Ram Jams: ‘EDNA’

Headie One bounces back from his last project, but not as much as was hoped




Genre: U.K. Hip Hop/Drill

On a Playlist With: Skepta, Octavian, Dave, Stormzy, Chip

North London-based rapper Headie One has dropped his seventh full-length project beginning in 2017, named “EDNA” after his mother. 

Following the disappointment of his project “GANG” from earlier this year, I was excited yet skeptical when he announced this album. Once the features list including Skepta, Stormzy, AJ Tracey, Young Adz and Future was revealed, the skepticism faded and I was left anxious for the release.

When Headie One took to Instagram and announced the album release date would be “09/10/20” on Sept. 17, I thought that I had missed the drop until I realized that the Brits write their dates with the day first. When Oct. 9 finally came around, I had to see audiences across the Atlantic reacting to it hours before I finally got to listen to it. 

After all the hype that I built around this album release, following a first listen I was ultimately left unsatisfied. I would not say I was disappointed, per se, but definitely shy of being completely satisfied.

There are some good tracks at the start of the album, but the project really comes into itself at “Princess Cuts” featuring Young T and Bugsy.

While I wouldn’t call “EDNA” bad, I’d consider Headie One’s 2019 solo album “Music x Road” better and 2017’s “Drillers x Trappers” and 2019’s “Drillers x Trappers II,” his collaborative mixtapes with Rv, to be his best work.

The biggest problem with this album is filler. Songs like “Triple Science” or “Five Figures” feel like they’re just stalling until the next feature appears on the album.

The album’s total runtime comes in just longer than an hour, but I think there’s a better album in here that is probably about 40 minutes long. If I were recutting the project, I would cut out most of Headie One’s solo songs, with the exception of “Teach Me” and “Mainstream,” and leave just about all of the songs with features. 

There are some good tracks at the start of the album, but the project really comes into itself at “Princess Cuts” featuring Young T and Bugsy. 

This album has 13 listed features, and they’re all pretty strong. Before the project even dropped, “Only You Freestyle” was already making waves online with Drake rapping in Arabic. As strange as it was for Drake to rap in Arabic, I can’t deny that both he and Headie One deliver hard verses.

“Only You Freestyle” flows into “Try Me” featuring Skepta as the two outdo the Drake feature the song before. However, both of those songs still lose in comparison to the next two tracks.

“F U Pay Me” features Ivorian Doll over Kenny Beats production. Both Headie One and Ivorian Doll experiment with different flows over the simple yet hard beat. Ivorian Doll gets real clever with the line, “Do this only for the fans, so it’s ‘F— you, pay me,’ comin’ like sex work.”

The biggest surprise of the album for me is the song “Parlez-Vous Anglais” featuring Aitch. Despite his popularity in the U.K., Aitch has been a rapper whose music I have struggled to get into. That being said, “Parlez-Vous Anglais” was immediately, and still is, my favorite song on this album.

Aitch and Headie One pass the song back and forth for the hottest three and a half minutes this year. Hard bars like “The plaques come platinum, my bezel’s stainless, whip goes fast and the crib’s outrageous” are intermixed with funnier lyrics like “Yo, shorty said ‘H,’ me and Aitch both lookin’ like H or Aitch?”

While this album may not have been everything I wanted it to be, it certainly is not bad and only makes me more excited for Headie One’s future work.

The Bottom Line: I’ll be listening to songs from this album for years to come, but not the album in its entirety. 

The Peaks: “Parlez-Vous Anglais,” “F U Pay Me” and “Everything Nice”

The Valleys: “Ain’t it Different” and “Therapy”

The Verdict: 6.5/10