As a Leeds resident, it really pains me to say this. Manchester’s on fire these days. They must be putting summat in the water that’s turning all the young folk super-creative. Some of my favourite releases of 2016 came from Manchester: Woddy Green, Lay Fullstop, Berry Blacc, Free Wize Men, Cul-De-Sac, The Mouse Outfit and of course, J.Chambers. Feel kind of lucky to have stumbled on him by accident a couple of years ago now supporting Oddisee at the tiny Deaf Institute. It was clear to me that there was something about him- at that point he was maybe still finding his way to his own style – but the soulful vibe and intelligent rhymes was all there. So it’s been interesting to hear that develop, and see him develop his craft on stage and in the studio, and to return to see him hosting his own EP launch at Band on The Wall last month.
It felt kind of triumphant, actually. The place was packed and the crowd were in the mood to celebrate with one of their own. And now – he’s the whole package – polished and confident performer, able to quiet the crowd enough for a spoken word piece and tear up the stage with a fast-paced freestyle, and generous enough to share the stage with collaborators and artists who had turned out for the show.
I’m excited to have heard Moment of Silence II which shows the development from last year’s Merchant of Manny. And it’s refreshing to hear a young artist unafraid to include real emotions and some societal reflections in their tracks, and happy to play around with a variety of musical styles that still holds together. This is a whole EP with a cadence and flow through the tracks, and nods backwards to previous projects. If I had to pick a favourite I’d struggle to choose between the haunting edge of “round here” (with the incredible Lay Fullstop) to the defiant and riotous “still here”.
Bookmark this as a reminder to pick up your copy when it drops.