West London rapper AJ Tracey hits nothing but net with his new album, Flu Game. The album has nods to basketball and Chicago Bulls star, Michael Jordan; the title itself is a reference to Jordan’s 1997 playoff game. After suspected food poisoning in questionable circumstances, Jordan led his team to victory virtually on his own. We will never know if Jordan listens to this album, but I am sure he would enjoy what AJ has put together.
Another more subtle link to Jordan, AJ relies heavily on himself throughout the 16-track album. Being a one-man team was often something Jordan did during his time at the Bulls. Despite this, some big names join Tracey on the court. Artists Digga D (‘Bringing It Back’), Mabel (‘West Ten’) and MoStack (‘Dinner Guest’) fly the British flag. Then NAV (‘Kukoč’), T-Pain (‘Summertime Shootout’) and Kehlani (‘Coupé’) join AJ to make this a real worldwide roster.
One thing we have become so familiar with when it comes to Tracey’s music is his ability to switch up genres. Flu Game follows this trend, with AJ dipping into grime and drill, with some R&B and garage vibes mixed in there too.
Tracey isn’t one to shy away from criticism. He gets a comment in early the first track ‘Anxious’, “AJ Tracey’s such a dickhead / all he do is boast.” With eight top 10’s and a gold-selling first album, why wouldn’t he boast? AJ is part of a golden generation of British artists and is arguably the biggest of them all. Sorry, Dave.
‘Kukoc’ is the second song on the album, an obvious shoutout to former Bulls player, Toni Kukoc. The track has AJ and Nav going back to back with their bars in the chorus. We also hear AJ reference the Bulls head coach Phil Jackson, “I coach yutes from my city, I’m Jackson.” At the young age of 28, AJ sees himself as a coach to younger rappers.
In the past, we’ve heard AJ shout out football in his tracks. Big hits like ‘Thiago Silva’, ‘False 9’ and ‘The Lane’ all reference Tracey’s love for football. Flu Game also follows this trend, football pops up across some tracks. AJ’s affiliation to Tottenham Hotspur is used in ‘Bringing it Back’, with the line “AJ from the Lane.” Tracey also shoutouts the returning Gareth Bale at Tottenham.
What follows ‘Cheerleaders’ is four stand-alone songs in ‘Draft Pick’, ‘Eurostep’, ‘Cherry Blossom’ and ‘Glockie’. The first two link back to the basketball theme that runs through the core of the album. ‘Eurostep’ is a standout from this album. The bars AJ uses in the song are clever and are the type that will get stuck in a listeners mind for days.
One song that will be a summertime anthem this year is ‘Little More Love’—a song that has catchy lyrics and a feel-good beat behind Tracey’s relaxed tone. It follows the Tracey ticklist for a summertime anthem. The track is club-ready; I am sure we will be hearing it in clubs around the UK and further afield this summer. With this summer being a summer like no other with the promise of no lockdown, Tracey has produced a song that will match the feel-good atmosphere of the nation.
‘Summertime Shootout’ sees the biggest feature on the album, as T-Pain drops on the court to support AJ. It’s a clever move by AJ using T-Pain on an album that he may be hoping helps him break into the American scene. T-Pain has a big following in the States which could lead people onto the London rapper.
AJ finishes the album with two already released songs that have charted well. ‘Dinner Guest’ ft Mostack and ‘West Ten’ ft Mabel. ‘West Ten’ has a similar feel to ‘Ladbroke Grove’ which was a massive hit for AJ, so it is no surprise that this track has been popular since being released.
The album together plays well; it will go down as AJ Tracey’s best work to date. Tracey has produced an album that reflects the one-man team the Bulls so often were with Jordan. Like Jordan, Tracey has worked well with teammates but all the glory will go to AJ. The West London rapper has hit a slamdunk with Flu Game.
Words by Josh Stedman
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