Foreign Beggars: 2 2 Karma

Way back in 2003, a small group of young rap artists burst onto the already burgeoning UK hip hop scene. They called themselves Foreign Beggars, a name that was inspired by a line on Kyza’s verse on Nightbreed and their debut album, Asylum Speakers, was destined to go down as one of the many classic releases from that era. That was 15 years ago and a lot has changed since then. Changes in the UK scene as a whole, as well as changes to the Beggars themselves. Their sound expanded from hip hop into multiple genres – dubstep, grime, DnB – and they always seemed to be riding the crest of whatever new wave was coming at the time. Their United Colours of Beggattron album was, for me, the tipping point, the point where they fully embraced the electronic world. But unlike some other artists who strayed into other genres, the Beggars not only maintained their credibility, but also managed to keep their fan base, such was the level of respect and love for the crew and their experimental journeys.
Now in 2018, six years since their last album – aside from the excellently curated 48, alongside Monster Florence last year – the gang are back with a new record and it encapsulates everything that has made them one of the most original and exciting acts in the UK.
From the opening rumbles of Flashback, provided by frequent collaborator Alix Perez and peppered with retrospective bars from Trop & OV, you know that what follows is going to be something particularly special, even for the already high Beggars’s standards. As the album progresses, the features mount up. The trio have always been adept at bringing in names that you might not necessarily associate with their sound, but who fit perfectly with the production and content of each track. Take 6 Million Stories which features Kate Tempest. Kate was around a lot on the same scene back in the day and obviously since then things have taken a different turn for her in terms of her career path, but as soon as she drops in it just sounds perfect. And Kojey Radical makes an awesome appearance on Blood in the Sink, which is another pairing I would not have necessarily expected, but it all makes sense as soon as you hear his distinctive flow cut through the opening bars.
The more thought-provoking joints like those are juxtaposed with rowdier anthemic tracks, like the previously released Toast and Waved – the latter featuring one of two great guest spots from Black Josh – which are probably more associated with Foreign Beggars current MO. But then you get tracks like 24/7 which straddle both sides of the line between rowdiness and lyrical depth, with both MCs speaking out on injustice, particularly at the hands of those intended to protect and serve us. And that is what makes 2 2 Karma such a special album for me. There are bangers galore, but they have a new level of urgency & importance in their lyricism too. You can stream 2 2 Karma below and you can purchase it now from all the usual spots, including iTunes.

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