There’s no one who can bounce back from jail time quite like Headie One. After serving six months for carrying a blade, he exited in style in April by helicopter, and dropped his fifth mixtape hours later. Fast forward a couple of months and his sprawling, emotion-fuelled album EDNA just dropped to mass critical acclaim.
It’s 20 tracks long, clocks in at just over an hour, and features a star-studded assembly of artists across the board as further collateral for his skyrocketing career – and Drake (who he also nabbed for a solid chunk of “Only You Freestyle”) has named him best drill artist in the world.
Drill – for those of you wondering – is a dark and gritty sub-genre of rap which crept to the surface of the Chicago scene in the early 2010s. London took it, mixed it with a bit of grime and some nihilistic tendencies, and now Headie One is ahead of the scene.
EDNA, named after and dedicated to his late mother, pits the breakout star comfortably among his contemporaries while lifting a couple of London’s best underground rappers along with him for the ride.
Between industry heavyweights Stormzy and AJ Tracey (who he joined forces with on “Ain’t It Different”), he also teamed up with OG Skepta (who offered up some verses on the frantic, dark “Try Me”) and Young T & Bugsey on the smooth “Princess Cuts” that got an equally as lush music video to boot.
But perhaps one of the most flow-stopping tracks on EDNA sees Headie One team up with Manchester rapper, Aitch for “Parlez-Vous Anglais”, which came with a glam-baroque video that dropped four days ago and already has over a million views.
As this quick-tongued Tottenham native spits bars with emotion between grating beats, he lays out a debut that is deeply thought out, wrapped in memory and edged in grit.