Since his 2016 breakthrough, Loyle Carner has been widely regarded as the nice boy in rap. His display of vulnerability and honesty through his lyricism, along with his effortless vocals and laid-back beats have been responsible for building up that image.
Now, however, it seems that the South Londoner aims to challenge that unidimensional perspective of his persona while he delves into his darkness.
After a two-year hiatus, the artist is back with his single “Hate”, a confessional song where he unfolds his wrath against the chains of society, opening up and sharing his deepest thoughts.
Could things have been different? Over a drum-driven beat produced by kwes., Earl Saga and Nick Mills, Carner ensures a powerful and exasperated vocal delivery. This new track does represent a tone shift in his career.
Furthermore, even if his two albums (Yesterday’s Gone and Not Waving, but Drowning) were characterised by their intimate nature, this takes on a deeper meaning. Growing up mixed-race, Loyle Carner discusses race in this song like never before, after a period of self-reflection.
The 27-year-old has described this new release as “a stream of consciousness that builds to an understanding that hate is rooted in fear”. He baths himself in feelings of frustration, and at the same time, he alludes to the notion of free will. The message that he emphasises is that “we’re trapped”, so these bars touch on different ways he has felt imprisoned.
People’s expectations and preconceptions can end up shaping your life path, just like fear and insecurities, which makes you feel paralysed. The rapper also revolts against time. The past and nostalgia have been a major theme in his previous work.
Fans have responded positively to this darker side of the rapper. Loyle Carner takes a bolder approach to his songwriting and style, which heralds an unpredictable and more nuanced upcoming album. While we wait for new details on his next project, you can check out the self-directed music video for “Hate”.
Words: Lorena Basallote