No Charge For an Underground Gem – A Review of Sam Wise’s [@Samwiseldn] “Free Game”

Words By: Dwayne Wilks

Sam Wise reminds us why his name is held in such high regard with his Free Game mixtape.

2021’s third quarter has already provided an abundance of talking points and high points. Drake and Kanye have hoarded most of the headlines despite the fact that their albums are widely considered to be mid at best. Little Simz gifted us with her magnum opus and album of the year contender, Sometimes I Might Be Introvert. Headie One, M1llionz and K-Trap have each added great projects to Drill’s canon in the last month. On the outskirts of the mainstream crowd and its clamour resides Kennington representative, Sam Wise. His second full length project, titled Free Game, was released on September 3rd; a 13-track showing in which Wise demonstrates that you can not only stand strong, but flourish in your own lane.

Free Game doesn’t find Wise feeling overlooked and underappreciated as might be expected of an inhabitant of “the underground”. In fact, quite the opposite. The project opens with the glossy “Bankroll Intro” on which Wise proclaims “if we spend a bag then we make it back, woah/where I’m from everyone dreaming on a bankroll”. The flossy energy carries over into tracks two and three, “First Little Rollie” and “Cheque Came”. Amongst all the feel-good flexing, Wise reminds you that he hasn’t lost himself to the spoils of his graft as he affirms on “My Block” and standout track “Indeed” featuring Knucks. Buoyed by a growling bassline, Wise spits grounded lines like “Cutting through Camberwell for a quick plantain and gizzard” amidst a verse that pervades an unshakeable security in himself, his ends and his profession, while Knucks adds another stellar verse to his seemingly ever-growing list of killer guest appearances.

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There’s a refreshing range on Free Game, delivered via the scope of beats and features. On “2 Mill”, Swift’s typical unrefined, cutting energy is matched by the hard-hitting soft-Grime beat. Lord Apex performs lyrical acrobatics on “Pay Up Or Lay Down” that very few others have the dexterity to achieve. Each of the guests invited to contribute to the project do just that to great effect. Yet Wise stays central to it all, accommodating each of them without compromising his ethos. While others might be discouraged by the space -or lack thereof – afforded to them, Sam Wise has forcibly created his own. Any lessons taken from his dedication to his craft is “Free Game”.

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