Lex Amor’s slanted raps have soothed, intrigued and mystified the ears of her listeners for the best part of four years now. September saw the release of her seminal full-length project, ‘Government Tropicana,’ and with it, the North London lyricist plants her feet firmly within the soundscape she had teased with her sporadic prior releases.
Amor has built herself a reputation as a highly introspective writer over the years. Her candid recollections of navigating life on her Highbury estate as a teen paint a familiar picture of what it means to grow up in inner-city London. Describing the project as the ‘fruit of her lifelong introspection,’ the ‘Mellowdic’ selector gives the listener very deliberate gestures that are bound to resonate. On atmospheric opener, Quarter Century, Amor raps ‘Dixy after school like, come over hold this my GG,’ harking back to the all-too-familiar days of post-school chicken and chips, memories that listeners will hold dearly. The rapper is just as frank when it comes to dealing with more serious topics. Riding the glitchy production of Odogwu Freestyle, she recounts how even in her ‘knee high socks’ she ‘knew the glock was a 9 milli.’ With these nostalgic moments, Amor is able to flip the coin, reminiscing on the darker themes of her adolescence with the same candour as her more pleasant memories of growing up.
The stream-of-consciousness approach to her writing is what marks Lex Amor apart from other rappers. Remarks such as ‘it’s quarter century, fuck is happening?’ on the project opener give the listener an insight into the racing thoughts of an artist who still draws on the attachments to her youth for inspiration, yet can’t shake the feeling of time moving too fast. When she spits ‘Pythagoras ain’t copping Pradas, what the fuck is this?’ against the eerie synths that form the backdrop of P.Y.F, Amor channels a common feeling of disillusionment that continues to define generations of young people aspiring for more than they are given. But her message is not one of hopelessness or lacking. As she continues through the journey her train of thought takes her on, Amor makes it clear that, despite everything, she is in control, brazenly questioning on Odogwu Freestyle, ‘How can I fear what I can scatter?’ The confidence in her ability to master her environment emboldens her to the point where she can bestow a title such as ‘Odogwu’ (a title alluding to ‘greatness’ in the Nigerian Igbo language) upon herself freely.
Amor’s floetic rhyming ability had been apparent long before this record. Freestyles on platforms like Boiler Room and Rap in Paper have allowed her to flex her penwomanship and established her as an esteemed lyricist. On ‘Government Tropicana,’ we begin to witness the artist's versatility, delicately translated through a varied palette of beats and subtle changes in delivery. Amor pairs her faint, praise-like vocals with dreamy keys on 100 Angels to create an ethereal sounding piece. Despite it being one of her only fully-sung tracks, it’s a side of the artist that doesn’t feel out of place with the sound she came up on. The woozy R&B cut Moesh emerges as a stand-out. A stellar Lo-Wu production, which feels like it was lifted from an old Timbaland hard drive, with its skippy drum pattern and rising synths, provides the perfect template for Amor to deliver her sparsely sung vocals. The tightly delivered guest verse from Dips is a big change of vibe, yet exists in synergy with Amor’s offering. Her holistic approach on this record allows her to shine on any type of beat; the jazzy Seinna-produced cut Bones sees the artist sit comfortably in the pockets created by the steady percussion. If Amor’s beat selection on this project is anything to go by, we can expect even more experimentation with her sound in the future.
‘Government Tropicana’ is a tidy introduction to Lex Amor, providing the artist with a solid foundation for new listeners to get to grips with her sound. Existing fans will find comfort in the familiarity of her free-flowing bars, but it is the variety in production of this project that will make the new listener sit up and take it in for the well-balanced effort that it is.
It feels polished, yet doesn’t stray too far from the raw, heartfelt raps that built her a cult following. As she continues to ‘gather up believers,’ the North London rapper can proceed with the knowledge that she has delivered a more than solid debut.