2020 has been a bit of a sticky one still, but one of the few silver linings of this most horrible year has been the regular output of excellent, innovative UK Rap. At the forefront of all that excellence is Coventry's Pa Salieu, boldly announcing himself as a "Gambian brudda, Mr K. Kunte" over the blaring siren-like synths of Jevon-produced 'Frontline' in January, with a commanding flow which instantly grabs your attention.
To "send someone to Coventry" is to ostracize them, cast them out, and cut them off. The origins of the phrase are unclear: Most date it to the English Civil War of the 1600s; one writer suggests it's a reference to being "hanged from a covin tree." Either way, the gist that lingers is of the post-industrial West Midlands city as an unwelcoming, unforgiving place. On his debut mixtape, Pa Salieu draws a more nuanced picture of his hometown--a place of violence, but light and hope also--and takes his stand for a generation of marginalized young people.
T his year may well have been the toughest in history for a new artist to break through to mainstream success. It's not merely the lack of gigs, festivals and club nights, or the sense of the promotional machine running at a reduced pace; it's the feeling that the year's unprecedented upheavals prompted fans to cleave to the familiar, finding comfort in nostalgia rather than seek out the new. The list of biggest-selling albums in 2020 is packed with releases that came out last year, two years or even four decades ago.
The giant pause button that was pressed as spring took hold could be argued to have affected Pa Salieu more than most; the Coventry rapper was fast-rising to be one of the UK's most prominent new stars, with January's 'Frontline' one of 1Xtra's most-played tracks this year. 'Send Them To Coventry' is, then, a delayed release - but that isn't likely to temper the impact the mixtape will have. Imbued throughout with a fusion of Pa's Gambian heritage, and life growing up in Coventry ("COV, #cityofviolence" introduces 'Informa'), it's a varied, confident and cinematic trip through where the performer finds himself.
Few rappers ascend to fame as rapidly as Pa Salieu. After releasing a few tunes in 2018 and 2019, the 22-year-old from Hillside in Coventry became a hit success earlier this year with his single 'Frontline'. The song's music video, where he relays tales of block life and street crime over punchy ….