Fresh Tracks: Headline raps for her culture on debut album Savage
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Edmonton native rapper Headline has paid his dues, having toured the local hip-hop scene for years through his work as an MC and as a producer, but he’s now ready to step into the spotlight with his debut album, Savage.
A sprawling 22-track set, Savage serves as a fitting introduction to Headline’s lyrical and production prowess, having mixed and mastered every song down to sample selection.
The album’s sound leans heavily on the ‘golden age’ of ’90s hip hop, with outtakes strewn throughout that make you think you’re listening to a Wu-Tang Clan affiliate, no doubt reinforced. by the appearance of the Clan’s Cappadonna. Rap tracks about the world he’s lived in as a native man, featured on the intro track The intro: “Yeah, smack down the alley with their groove / Mack daddies and crack addicts do movements / This is the shit I saw when I walked home from school.
Headline, aka Jesse Elechko, says his goal for Savage was to shed light on some of the darker sides of life. He’s not afraid to get personal in his writing, which often details racial difficulties and tensions. On Pursuit of Happiness, Headline shares that he tried to sand his skin to look like “white kids,” but was thwarted by his brother who told him to embrace who he is.
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The album’s themes are solidified on its standout title track. Over a mournful beat laden with strings and brass, Headline raps about the generational trauma Indigenous peoples endure, punctuated with heartbreaking speech samples.
It’s not all downtrodden tracks, though. Piano Reeves is a certified trunk drummer, with Jarren Benton contributing a violent, vengeful verse over a bouncy beat, while F—k and Mediate take Headline’s vocals and turn them into a Travis Scott-esque drawl to sing on the carnal lust and smoking cannabis.
Savage is a mish-mash of singers, from Headline’s delivery that cuts through the music while maintaining his personality, sometimes sounding like Logic’s rap gymnastics, to a slew of major label artists. The warbling pipes of System of a Down’s Serj Tankian provide the hook on Train of Thought and Cappadonna skips 12 o’clock in Paris, spitting a verse about a strange woman who cooks prawn curry and loves kung fu.
Headline is an old head at heart, but his fresh and invigorating perspective displayed on Savage is a welcome breath of fresh air in the rap scene.
Stream Savage here.