If one thing’s true about Aitch, it’s that he makes an unforgettable first impression. The Manchester MC looks simultaneously 13 and 30, raps like the lovechild of Stormzy and a kid trying to roll you for pennies outside a chicken shop, and throughout it all, holds a confidence that should be reserved for gold medalists, astronauts, and the monarchy.
Love him or hate him, you can be sure that Aitch isn’t going anywhere. His new EP Polaris is named after the North Star, both a reference to his Mancunian roots and his total permanence. The 8-track release is more statement of fact than statement of intent; to those who’d love to see Aitch quiet up or move along, you’d have more luck telling the stars in the sky to sod off.
Deftly executed and defined by precisely gathered influences, the Polaris EP from Aitch pitches an unstoppable trajectory for Manchester’s next big thing.
And that confidence is well-founded; Aitch has been rubbing shoulders with the musical one percent for a minute now. Throughout Polaris you’ll find production features from Kenny Beats, Cubeatz, longtime collaborator WhyJay, and many more. Single Rain features AJ Tracey and Tay Keith and, apparently, Aitch has the clout to clear a Destiny’s Child sample now (Triggered).
Given the talent of his team, it’s not surprise that Polaris hits as hard as it does. The tracks are succinct and bursting with radio-bait instrumental hooks; the trumpet line on Zombie or the distorted 808s dominating 30 are straight out of the contemporary hip hop/grime playbook.
It’s a no-filler experience, each track an efficiently produced hit that’s built to be streamed well into the millions.
More than ever, the rapper’s British heritage is layered throughout Polaris. The influence of grime upon this EP is not only obvious, but worn as a badge of honour. Rain tickles the itch with a rancid minor-key bassline, 30 bears the gigantic brass synths fans will associate with that viral London sound, and a slick came-from-the-bottom swagger is present in spades.
It would be remiss to pay homage to Manchester without a few bumping basslines, steam train verses, and total crowd wreckers. Well check, check, and check; on Polaris Aitch doesn’t miss a beat.
Polaris builds upon the Aitch legend with delicacy and wisdom at once. He’s not trying anything ridiculously out of character, but deftly widening his scope – with the well-guided hand of a few of the world’s best hip hop producers – into places that simply make sense.
Aitch, most dear to fans in his home country but now a worldwide force, isn’t about to forget his roots. The Polaris EP is a righteously executed addition to the rock-solid UK rap cannon, no doubt one that will be praised across the board.
Polaris is out now via NQ Records/Caroline Australia.