Record review: Mog – Conclusion (aka Chapter 8)

“The words I use got a power to them/power, now/they’re not just words – they’re truth”

 

So speaks a voice amid the eerie crackling of Conclusion’s intro, before Glasgow rapper Mog proceeds to illustrate the point throughout the ensuing 30 some minutes on this, his third album.

You may not be familiar with many Glasgow rappers, whether by choice or because they don’t tend to gain much traction on Radio 1 playlists; be that as it may, Mog is not your prototypical rapper.

While virtually every mainstay of the current UK urban scene enjoys treading a well-worn path when it comes to lyrical inspiration (women, bling, Gs), Mog isn’t interested in such conceptual accoutrements.

Every word comes from deep within, delivered in impassioned salvos, and as he spits on ‘Yes Yes Yall’, “I’d rather be an underdog than act like I’m the son of God”.

The song has a languorous old school beat, similar to ‘Moovin On’ with its hazy ‘70s backing track and echoes of ‘Evolution’ from the first-rate Based On A Blue Story.

‘Moovin On’ appears to track the rapper’s departure from Penilee, where he grew up, as he bids farewell to the faces and places that populated his formative years.

While much of the subject matter is grim (“I’m gonnae miss the weans fightin on a Friday pished/and a Monday and a Tuesday and you get the gist…”), baldheaded Mog is clever enough to turn the microscope in his own direction (“I’m gonna miss my bare flair and ma rollin’ tray/the same way I miss ma hair fae the golden age”).

The beats continue to complement Mog’s needle-sharp wit and lyrical themes of paranoia, escape, alienation and irony (“if people knew, they’d say ‘you’re crazy, oot your mind’, cos you miss a childhood that ye hated at the time”), ‘I Am Sam’s’ track like something from the apocalyptic Terminator 2 soundtrack, while ‘Full Disclosure’, with its scratched LP and jazz vibe, sees Mog take aim at “worthless posers and backstabbers”.

A wide array of influences are evident from the sample of Lisa Ekdahl’s ‘Give Me That Slow Knowing Smile’ on ‘Searching’, a relentlessly introspective self-appraisal where Mog ponders his imminent death and how before snuffing it.

Expletive-laden and avowedly honest, ‘Searching’ is not easy listening, and despite the histrionics, it’s more confessional than contrived.

“there’s angels haunting me, demons tryin’ to be ma bud, but in actuality they only want tae see ma blood,” he muses, before contemplating how best to by-pass the “fretting, regretting and repenting”.

‘Nuttin Changes’, like its cousin ‘Do You Blame Me’ from this record’s predecessor, showcases Mog’s softer side as he describes his love for a woman scarred by her father.

But the gauntlet is again laid down to all comers on ‘Street Fate’, which contains some of the most piercing lines on the album and charts a life tormented by drugs (“havin to deal with your family burnin’ heroin and dafties swingin’ blades as you’re comin’ doon aff the Ketamine”), yet held together by the camaraderie of bullshitting troops “speakin’ movie patter, words flowin’ like water”.

‘Heel Turn’, meanwhile, is ironic tale of an ambitious cage fighter spurred on by a baying crowd, only to be abused as he exits the arena.

‘Cold In The Streets’ brings Conclusion (aka Chapter 8) to an end, with Mog describing his run-in with a “cunt mad on white, brandishing a Stanley knife” over another classic beat.

It might not be for everyone, but if you appreciate killer wit, smooth beats and an artfully-retold backstory, do yourself a favour and remind yourself that, despite the crusade of mediocrity originating from the London grime scene at the moment, rap music can still shock and engage.

Words: Ronnie McCluskey

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