Swet Shop Boys, the collab project of Riz MC (Riz Ahmed of Rogue One and Four Lions) and Heems (Himanshu Kumar Suri of Das’ Racist), released their sophomore EP Sufi La on May 26th.
The follow-up to last year’s Cashmere has been described by the duo as less politics – more party than their debut LP. In keeping with this approach, producer Redinho has significantly pared back the South Asian mix samples that made ‘Cashmere’ so unprecedented and unique in the grime-rap movement, and so emphasises the absence of such controversial tracks as ‘T5’ which gained Swet Shop Boys’ popularity in the diasporic community.
This move makes Sufi La feel less exclusive to South Asian listeners who were always in on the joke with Cashmere, proving Swet Shop Boys’ right to be considered as more than just a political mouthpiece, but as an upcoming force on the wider genre’s landscape. However, clever hooks and an undercurrent of racial commentary remain a prominent feature, especially in ‘Zombie’, by far the most political of the six-track EP in its straight-faced warnings of the dangers for immigrant communities in the post-Brexit, Trump-era of western geopolitics: “If you’re black or brown/Babylon comin’ for your head”. Overall, Sufi La feels a bit lacklustre compared to the duo’s explosive debut, but a necessary shift in focus to avoid Swet Shop Boys being typecast as less than a serious force to be reckoned with.
[Katie Athwal – @kxthwl]