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Parklife 2017 Loyle Carner 'Yesterday's Gone' review

Henry Lewis gives his verdict on the debut record from the London rapper, a journey through boyhood and manhood delivered via crisp bars over Rebel Kleff's Dilla inspired production.

Henry Lewis

Last updated: 3rd Feb 2017

Image: Loyle Carner

In dark times, music is often the place where most find solace. When it comes to Loyle Carner, this works both ways. For Benjamin Coyle-Larner, beats, bars and bass are clearly his haven. For everyone else, what he has produced means that slipping away from reality is both an effortless and enjoyable experience.

Whether you're made uneasy by a hostile political world, ever draining finances or relationship struggles, you can confide in Carner just as much as he confides in you.

Honesty, integrity and sensitivity are all words that have been used to describe the London rapper in the past and sometimes these descriptions are thrown around too carelessly. They don't take into account that behind the tender flow there is a bubbling anger, one that is shared by heaps of young people across the country.

It's on opening track 'The Isle Of Arran' where Carner first demonstrates a more aggressive nature, something that has devopled and become more prevalent in his later tracks. Sampling the 1969 S.C.I Youth Choir track 'The Lord Will Make A Way', the rapper's debut could not start on a more powerful note.

A genuinely goosebump-inducing effort, Rebel Kleff's sampling, as is clear throughout, is a work of genius. Couple this with lyrics like "I wonder why my Dad didn't want me, ex didn't need me, half of them left, and the rest finna breeze me" and the result is simply chilling. 


Themes of family, past lovers, being skint and getting pissed are softly spoken over the producer's meticulous beats, embodying the influence of Slum Village, Common and Mos Def with a distinctly anglicised patter. This is best demonstrated in the Tom Misch hook up, and latest single 'Damselfly', with the singer returning the favour following Carner's contribution to the simply gorgeous 'Crazy Dream' in 2016.

Yesterday's Gone drifts from song to song effortlessly, each delivering a new story. Family is a key theme throughout, 'Florence' for example sees Carner imagining a world where he has a little sister, while the occasional heartfelt interludes from his mother, Jean, make it evident that home is where the heart is.

It's a joy to finally have a full length Loyle Carner record to delve into. The likes of 'Ain't Nothing Changed' and 'Stars & Shards' promised so much and, amongst new tracks such as 'No CD' or the Jehst collab 'No Worries', help to map a journey without seeming old or irrelavant.

The reference to supporting Nas in 'Son Of Jean' goes a long way to show that this young man well and truly has his feet on the ground, and is almost dreaming his way through a blossiming career. In Rebel Kleff he has the perfect foil, and the opportunity to go on and produce some more incredible records.

You can't help but feel that even if this 'being a musician' thing doesn't work out, Carner has already made his family proud beyond words; and it's evident that nothing else seems to matter.

Like this? Check out The Beatnuts lock down London show in February

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