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New Tracks: RAY BLK, “My Hood” (feat. Stormzy)

It seems that some of the best music in Europe is coming out of South London these days, and RAY BLK’s “My Hood,” featuring Stormzy, is the latest song detailing the life in the area. But rather than presenting a bleak outlook, it manages to fall halfway between a love song and a ballad; expressing both pride in and empathy for the people of the notoriously rough area. Taking a real listen to the lyrics is jolting, as RAY’s smooth voice doesn’t particularly beget lyrics like “Barely anyone in school after fifteen/We’re chasing paper, then Blue Borough should be green,” ones that reference the struggles that the inhabitants of her neighborhood go through in their day-to-day. She sounds too sweet, her voice too beautiful to be from someone who has experienced the life she is portraying. Stormzy’s verse provides a necessary roughness to the track, his voice behind the words “Your friend might not be able to read, but he can bill it,” not only making them believable but giving credence to the song overall, supplying it with an undeniable edge.

Collabs like this are often unnecessary; a person will have a verse on a song because having their name next to the track title looks good, not because they add anything to it. But “My Hood,” wouldn’t be the tune it is without both RAY BLK and Stormzy, each respectively mirroring the sweet and sour of life in South London the song is meant to represent.

– Carolyn Hanson

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