“Gospel rapper” has become a term that many wish to clarify. Whilst there are a number who use their 16 bars to promote the Word of God, there are also those whose Christian beliefs are merely a part of their walk and whose rhymes sometimes delve into issues other than their faith. Highly-touted east London MC Franklyn Addo, better known as Franklyn Music, is one of the forerunners of this somewhat new label, and he now finds himself reaping the fruits of his labour with the wider musical market’s interest in him steadily growing.
With an ability to weave together engaging stories with an extensive vocabulary range, the 19-year-old’s emergence has been a much documented one. Thanks to a general appreciation of his previous mixtape Just Being Frank, numerous leaked tracks and some non-music related press coverage, Just Being Frank II is a release that both his loyal followers and the quietly curious are intrigued by. As his internet campaign for the free download reaches its final destination, can the music and message match up to the high expectations?
With an increase in interest from more than his core followers, opening track “All Eyes On Me” is a relevant opener for the young wordsmith. With his soft, easy-on-the-ear tones, Franklyn’s subtle utterings of finding himself in new territory sit comfortably on the piano-saturated production. Providing an even balance of biographical anecdotes and close-to-home tales, each of his purposeful rhymes uncover a little more about the shy protagonist.
Moving into a more amped gear on the Victizzle-produced Grime cut “Ain’t Got A Clue,” Frank puts to bed any misconceptions about him that may exist whilst informing of the various blessings and burdens he carries at such a young age. Offering an olive branch to the various people who have filtered out of his life, “Growing Apart” finds young Frank begrudgingly admitting defeat when it comes to maintaining friendships with many close to him.
Production is handled mainly by Victizzle and Alfa Mist, and the two beatsmiths taking the mixtape in different directions. Whilst the MOBO award-winning Vic raises the pulses with heavier offerings, Alfa Mist’s subtle soundscapes suit Franklyn’s more patient recitals.
“Live Love Give” provides a smooth, easy-flowing stream with Frank freely declaring the joys of life, whereas “Van Gogh” again professes more spiritual freedom, this time in the simpleness of art.
It’s only when striving for the bigger anthems that Master Addo doesn’t find his own lane. The Seyi-assisted “Smile,” for all its positivity, doesn’t bring anything different from the other hope-based songs — but Franklyn doesn’t stay in homely surroundings. Exploring much darker territory, the haunting tales of “Sad Story” and “Elaine” bring to the forefront the trials young girls face from various teen pressures. Although both tracks are strong and the stories are told with some concern, their execution could have been done with greater conviction to emphasise the grave matter at hand.
As consistent as his promotion was in the run up to the release, Just Being Frank II is a solid display of an artist who flourishes in his chosen surroundings. Rarely going for larger-than-life instrumentals or grand choruses, Franklyn Music remains in cruise control for the most part, providing listeners with an easing listening experience, allowing all to fully digest each message provided.
Evidently a student of lyricists such as Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole and others, Frank’s impressionable storytelling will only get better in years to come. The lack of standout tracks like those that boosted the previous installation may have hindered many an artist, but Franklyn’s collection of diary-like entries show evidence that the race is not to the swift, as his stream of reflective, conscientious material will do more to stir spirits than shake hips.
Although humble in makeup, Just Being Frank II will leave a lasting mark on all who consume its soliloquies.
DOWNLOAD: Franklyn Music – Just Being Frank II