Words by: Dwayne Wilks
After some time away from the game, A2 returns on full form on what may be his last ever project, Just So You Know.
The reign of A2 has been characterised by the quality of his projects firstly, and then by the regularity of his drops thereafter. Since 2012, the South London rapper/singer/producer’s formula of regularly releasing EPs tailor-made for late night rides through the city has built him a cult fanbase, as loyal and committed as any you’re likely to find. Fans of the enigmatic artist saw their prayers answered on May 28th when A2 returned with his long teased Just So You Know project, an 11-track project signalling a return to form and a reminder of his talents.
Having heard calls of being underrated all his career, A2 demands his flowers on project opener, “Akolades” and demonstrates why he’s so deserving of them. The rapper-iteration of A2 always provides balance on his projects, but much of his allure draws from the murky, mood setting melodies employed in the majority of his music. The likes of “Torondon” and “Ideal” give the people what they’ve been missing: slow-paced, open letters to past flames, being read aloud in real time. A personal favourite, “Seasonz” (its original version no longer being on streaming platforms, and the updated version not being on Spotify at all) is almost intoxicating in its sound, yet sober in its sentiment, with A2 crooning in recognition of his worth, over woozy, weighty production.
Just So You Know is as introspective a project as we’ve received from the artist. On “I Must Admit” the hook is open about mistakes made – “I must admit; I’ve made too many errors, can’t blame it all on this spliff” – possibly as a coy allusion to the label situation that prevented the release of new music for a period. Even in the practice of accountability however, there is still a steadfast confidence seen – “1 of 1 … I’m special man. Don’t ever put my name next to anything that ain’t special”, he declares on the outro of “I Must Admit”.
“No Rush” sees A2 and Etta Bond renew their chemistry with another tender duet that gives the tracklist something of a lift by virtue of its bright chords. The project’s overall moody atmosphere is maintained on “Midsummer Misery”, the sweet melancholy of its piano riff matching the sentiment of the lyrics. There aren’t many artists that would be able to follow up the ballad-like tendencies of “Midsummer Misery” with the more up-tempo flexing of “Lavish Freestyle”, but genre blending is a skill that A2 has clearly perfected.
Whether it be the most braggadocious, 808 driven rap or the slowest, soppiest of ballads, each song on every project is brought together by a feeling of cohesion. It’s as if, upon completion, each track has been left to soak in A2’s musical aura for months before release. Just So You Know is no different. The murky green hue on the project’s cover is fitting; the EP delivers the artist’s evergreen sound – a sound that he hasn’t betrayed at any point in his career and a sound that no other artist has managed to successfully imitate. For all of his talents, A2 has spoken of this being his last ever release. If that does prove to be the case, Just So You Know is a perfect reminder that he is indeed, 1 of 1.
Keep streaming Just So You Know and you can see a review of A2‘s project PURPLE here.