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Albums of 2013 – 20. LE1F – ‘Fly Zone’

If Fly Zone wasn’t free to download, you’d be forgiven for thinking it was a major label debut. That’s how good LE1F is. For one, he has so many incredible one-liners that he makes Kanye West look like Pitbull – “I’m not a yoga master but he wanna see my body fold” or “I might just read you backwards like the holy Qu’ran” to name but a few. At times his flow is faster than Eminem’s, and the tone of his voice – deep and gravelly – is met with enough braggadocio to knock sense into those who still can’t get their head around homosexuality’s place in hip-hop.

He also has a keen ear for beats, scouting New York’s finest underground producers in order to go toe to toe with mainstream hip-hop. ‘Coins’ sees Drippin & Souldrop repurpose the iconic Super Mario jingle for a streamlined cloud-rap glide, whilst ‘Airbending’ rather brilliantly features a Wiley sample for its hook. The latter is of particular interest, for it draws attention to just how much common DNA is shared between LE1F and Britain’s best grime MCs – the rapper himself lists Dizzee Rascal’s Boy In Da Corner as a particular influence.

Released as a mixtape prior to his recent (yet heavily under-wraps) label signing, Fly Zone is the first of two tapes dropped this year. Although its sexier sibling Tree House sees him already developing his sound further, these earlier tracks feel like they have more to prove. Described by LE1F as his attempt to play rap’s ignorance at it’s own game, Fly Zone is proof that he won’t be playing on the periphery for much longer.

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