808INK’s When I’m About You’ll Know is completely different yet strangely familiar (5 min reading time)

On a journey from an undisclosed location in Walthamstow to the Barbican, I fired up my Spotify and embarked on an audio journey in the form of 808INK’s 4th album “When I’m About, You’ll Know”

If you didn’t already know, 808INK are a South Lundun crew consisting of rapper Mumblez and producer 808Charmer. Closely affiliated with them is their visual collaborator, Pure Anubi$.

As a lapsed fan with too much free time on his hands, I decided to set myself the ‘challenge’ of noting down my first impressions of 808INK’s 4th feature while travelling on my regular public transport to a set destination. As you can see above I won’t disclose the super secret HQ of freshborngold [at least you can holla at us if you’re lost in East] but from there I travelled to the Barbican centre to catch an well earned pretentious film.

Now instead of going track to track in this review in monotonous fashion, breaking down each track like I’m the human form of genius.com, I’ve decided to summarise my notes into my thoughts.

From the start, the album kicks off with something known to the fans of 808INK. A 90s hip-hop melody that sounds like something Skepta would be on [Flexing Side A].

Weirdly specific right? I’m pretty sure that’s what I thought when I scribbled down it into my notes.

Into the next tracks [G & Come Down] which they feel completely different to what came prior. Their album “Billy’s Home” was conceptualised around this idea of “Lundun” where the crew disassociates itself from the capital. Here, on the other hand, it feels more of a collective display of their versatility rather than a cohesive story or message [other than we ain’t something you’ve heard before].

Note: Also, it’s worth mentioning that at one point during G, peering out of the bus I’m travelling on didn’t make me feel like a G at all ]

“We’re not trying to wear the London kit. We live in London, but we are Lundun.”

noisey, 2016

Once Come Down began I expected Tyler, the creator to come through on the track. That’s how much the style on the new album reminds me [very loosely] of Odd Future from back in the day. The resemblance isn’t there in the regular sense of the word, but more in the sense of “uniqueness”. The variety is refreshing and Come Down especially feels reminiscent of the work they [Odd Future] did. Trying to summarise the album, the easiest way I could describe it, is “Completely different but strangely familiar”.

[ Note: I was originally gonna go with “funky, familiar and clever album with catchy chorus’ to boot” but that made me sound like I grew up watching In Living Colour. ]

At this point [Top Flow] I realise this album is built to be bumped in the rare English sun, and not on a bus towards Kings Cross on an overcast day. My pick of the album, Handy, starts to play out of my airplane-grade earphones and it has to be the best of the album so far. The production? Incredible, vaguely reminding me of Clams Casino during the A$AP Rocky era.

[ Note: It’s worth mentioning why I pinpointed the Oslo in Hackney on the map above. This’ll be the spot for an 808Ink gig on the 18th April]

808Charmers Interlude sits at just over 2 minutes and, honestly, shows of his talent as a beat maker. Not much to say about it. Simple lyrics over a masterfully crafted melody. I’ll praise that whenever it’s possible.

Onto the penultimate track of the album [Flexing, Side B]. When I saw this song “split” into two sides, I tried to listen to them in isolation and then together, and although my preference leans towards Side A, Side B managed to add at least one bit of connection between the songs on this album.

SLIGHT TANGENT, but on initial look WIAYK comes in at just over 24 minutes spread over 9 tracks and it’s worth mentioned my bias towards albums that are kept below 11/12 tracks. It’s a level of discipline not really seen a lot these days – with albums going for quantity over quality, which is something 808ink manage to forego.

The album finishes with one of the best outros I’ve heard, Audiyo. It manages to beat Handy for best track on the album. It amalgamates everything about 808INK’s newest project. Memorable melody, great lyrics and chorus you would blare out whenever you can.

The variation across the album, combined with its length and subtleties in quality control means I recommend this as mandatory listening. Comparing it to there previous work, I think this is less a conceptual album with a concise message running through and more just a display of how good these two – with help from Pure Anubi$ on visuals – really are.
standouts: Flexing Side A, Handy & Audiyo
rating: 💰💰💰💰