Originally gaining an audience alongside Ghetts, Devlin, Wretch 32 and Scorcher in The Movement, East London MC Mercston has finally released his debut studio album, over 15 years in the making.
The result is ‘Top Tier’, 14 tracks which skip from hardcore grime to more radio friendly cuts with hints of Afro-swing. Despite the refusal to stay in any one lane, the quality never dips drastically, but a few songs in it’s abundantly clear what Mercston’s really good at – grime.
The title track, which features Devlin and Ghetts, is a masterclass in fast-paced, unrelenting energy and a real throwback to the first golden era of the genre. ‘T’s And C’s’ brings a similar level of quality and the Mike Skinner-referencing ‘Merc Skinner’ is a perfect mix of comedy, storytelling and talent.
Wretch-32 featuring ‘No Banter’ is the best of the more relaxed cuts on offer, Mercston’s sometimes aggressive bars linking perfectly with a sunshine-tinged chorus and instrumentals. ‘Stone Love’ also takes a slower pace, with a menacing undertone driven home by a classic Giggs verse.
The album does veer into this territory too often, however, and some of the more commercial tracks fade into background music and threaten to drag the album down. Luckily there are enough bangers peppered throughout the end of the album that interest doesn’t wane for long. ‘Top Tier’ is by no means a perfect album, but there’s more than enough on offer to make it well worth a listen.
Mercston may have taken his time with it, but at its best, this album shows why he’s remained a cult hero of the scene for so many years.
Words: Jake Hawkes
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