Published Jan 13, 2017Anything men can do, women can do better. At least, that's what UK-based emcee Nadia Rose demonstrates on her nine-track debut album Highly Flammable; it only takes hearing one track to appreciate that the 23-year-old's verbal dexterity rivals the skills of the best male rappers in the game.
Like many legendary female artists — Nicki Minaj, Missy Elliott and Foxy Brown, for example — Rose exudes palpable sensuality and a self-assured bad bitch mentality. But Nadia Rose isn't overshadowed by those rap veterans, either; by combining confident, swift flows with grungy, bombastic beats, Rose creates a standout project that fuses elements of grime and dancehall.
Save for the intro, only one cut, "Poltergeist" (featuring Alika), has fewer than 100bpm. What the eerie track loses in tempo, though, it makes up for in Rose's characteristic braggadocio: "Fuck the haters and the pagans / Came in the game and made a statement / Bars bring flows, bring entertainment / Bad gal, bossy and brazen," raps the MC.
Apart from a soft shout out to Rose's late grandmother in the intro, Highly Flammable lacks much vulnerability, preserving the rapper's enigmatic presence. Some will consider this a downside, but by avoiding emotionally profound themes, Rose sidesteps the sexist expectations of women in music, instead providing male and female fans alike with a slew of bangers.
Highly Flammable is an impressive breakout project from Rose, the cousin of grime star Stormzy. You need to hear it, but make sure you have a fire extinguisher nearby — this album definitely lives up to its name. (Relentless Records/Sony Music Entertainment UK Limited)