Envy - Set Yourself On Fire - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Envy - Set Yourself On Fire

by Rich Morris Rating:9 Release Date:2010-03-22

Twenty-two-year-old Envy (Nicola Varley) is no stranger to recognition and has been winning awards for years on the Manchester rap-battle scene. If you were lucky enough to see her swoop the acclaimed freestyle competition Battlescars in March 2006, you were truly witnessing a star in the making whilst the rest of us will have to settle for dodgy Youtube clips. Her debut record has been tipped as the one to watch and has been greatly anticipated by UK hip-hop industry types.

This album, from start to finish, is full of relentless rhymes and catchy hooks. Envy is a breath of fresh air from the chart r&b dross churned out week by week. Her hybrid style touches on both hip-hop and grime with some dirty dubstep beats thrown in for good measure and it certainly ticks all the boxes. The majority of the beats you can hear on this record have been crafted by Medasyn who famed for his work on Lady Sovereign's early stuff and you can't talk about this record without crediting him. It's a partnership that compliments Envy's style perfectly.

First listen is like getting slapped in the face with a pair of Nike Blazers. Envy captures a culture and takes us on a journey beyond the singles we've already heard. Themes of love loss magnify from 'You & Me' and 'Cocktails in Selfridges' as Envy spits resentment to an ex. There is something undeniably hott about this mouthy Mancunian as she teases the men around her with 'Chips in My Dip', which brings to mind Kelis and her milkshake only this time you're undoubtedly going to end up face down in the yard! If you don't like women with loud voices this really isn't going to float your boat.

Shake off your preconceptions about a white, 20-something, female MC because it's lazy and unfair to put Envy in the same box as Lady Sovereign. It's safe to expect more of Nicola Varley because she will deliver under Stop Start records. Envy's sheer determination and attitude in a famously sexist and misogynistic industry has seen her successfully carve herself a throne amongst the guys. Listen to 'Put Your Game Face On' and expect a resounding feminist tribute to Varley's influences and all the female rappers who have paved the way for this record - if you can catch the lyrics that is.

Emma Stafford

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