Shogun – an emcee raised in Paisley – came onto the radar of underground music fans back in 2016 with ‘VULCAN’, a freestyle clocking in at just under four minutes. That freestyle earned him some traction, as his name graced the pages of the music press alongside the likes of Rapture 4D, Proc Fiskal and Ransom FA, several artists who were earmarked as bringing a fresh wave of grime from Scotland and its various towns and cities.

2020 marked a consistent run of music for Shogun, as he dropped sixteen singles, collaborating with various emcees and producers in the process. An appearance on the second series of BBC Three’s ‘The Rap Game UK’ would follow, where he was characterised as a talented but rough around the edges emcee who shunned authority and was keen to forge his own path. He eventually made the final, but the show seemed focused on presenting its contestants with challenges that might take them out of their comfort zone; rather than fostering an environment where they could find a signature sound and develop it. It felt at times that Shogun’s main strength: warp-speed delivery and raw passion, were at risk of being tempered for a more mainstream approach to spitting bars. Criticisms of the ‘The Rap Game UK’ aside, the momentum from last year seems to have carried over to 2021. At the time of writing, he’s released seven tracks including ‘Crow’, which I wrote about here.

“Rise High” was released back in January 2021. It’s a four-track EP created in collaboration with SENGA, a producer from Glasgow. The beats, here, are full-tilt grime: all dingy melodies, enormous bass, brain-zapping eski samples and impactful rhythms. While Shogun has spat over a few different styles this year – namely rap and drill inspired beats – he’s at his best when going over the intense strand of grime heard on “Rise High”. Opening track ‘Reign’ sees him switch from a grinding delivery to motion-blur flows while depicting a kitchen-sink look at life, as he spits about his struggles and talks about where he wants to go in the universe. ‘No Warning’ features intense eski-clicks, with Shogun spitting about the trials of block life and the tribulations that come with it. Often, emcees who excel at technical rapping can trade rhythm and cadence for flat-out speed, but Shogun knows when to find the bite, varying his flows and attacking SENGA’s beats in different ways. It feels refined yet never lacks energy or intensity. ‘Intraspect’ closes out the record as the storm of beats and bars clears, giving way to rolling percussion and deep chords. Here, Shogun pulls back the curtain ever so slightly and touches on familial losses in the lyrics.

“Rise High” is a great EP. Shogun sounds like an emcee full of fervour, willing to leave everything in the booth and give his listeners a three-dimensional look into his life and background. Couple that with SENGA, a talented producer that understands the type of beats that Shogun excels over, and you’ve got a short but intense record that deserves repeated listens.

Stream “Rise High”

Posted by:Ryan Moss

I'm the sole founder, editor and writer for The Art Of Grime. I love grime and want to push all the sick artists doing things at the moment.

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