Retch - Lean & Neck Mixtape

Lean and Neck, the latest mixtape from Retch, is the strongest, darkest and most innovative release from the fast living New Jersey MC we've heard to date.

Released on the first anniversary of fellow Blackout Boy A$AP YAMS' death, the aptly titled Lean and Neck mixtape sees Retch bring all of his trademark components together perfectly for what is likely to be a pivotal release. Clever, venomous wordplay and talk of illicit activities are delivered from the snarled and unmistakable voice of Retch, a tone kept rough through a strict diet of weed and codeine cough syrup.

A feature-free mixtape with a lineup of relatively unknown producers sees some rare innovation within a street trap sound, something I will always welcome but don't see too often. Retch does clever things with a trappy sound to make it feel rooted firmly in the East Coast, something I hope can be built on in future releases.

Retch's music is known to be dark but Lean and Neck sees it focused in the right way, never coming off too strong or abrasive as I've sometimes found with past releases. Take lead single Couple Straps, which sees Retch slow things down and singing a little over what is probably the most happy go lucky track on the tape. It's catchy and it gets you singing along, and then you listen to the lyrics and realise this is not a happy go lucky track, it's like a big, dark, catchy joke.

Still holding it down as a very underground rapper, this is Retch at his strongest and most interesting, channelling his now signature anger as a means of telling a very raw and street-focused story. Assured, backed by some strong production with an important touch of executive production, the success of Lean and Neck has me excited for what else we might see from Retch this year.

Stand out tracks include the Not To Mention, All Night, Fresh Off Tour and Couple Straps.