London may no longer be the centre of UK hip-hop, but many regional rap scenes are only just minting their first mainstream stars. Thanks to two Top 20 singles and ongoing radio play, Ra’chard Tucker and Doyin Julius – AKA Young T & Bugsey – can claim to be Nottingham’s first proper success story. Yet, as the US constitution-referencing title of their first full-length release suggests, you’d struggle to find much that roots their music in the Midlands.
Instead, their fun, frothy and inordinately melodious hip-hop fusion – a sound that cribs from Afrobeats, grime, trap, dancehall, R&B and turn-of-the-millennium US rap – speaks to a globalised music industry and playlist-centric streaming culture that knows increasingly few borders.
Despite early support from Stormzy, the pair really have J Hus to thank for their success; the east Londoner’s game-changing synthesis of African diaspora pop and frosty UK rap has readied the charts for a sound like theirs. Young T & Bugsey take his mode and amplify its crowdpleasing potential, focusing their efforts on indelible hooks, sing-song bars and the kind of gently bubbling grooves designed to buoy along a big night out.
Suitably, Plead the 5th’s lyrics revolve largely around the increasingly retro rap topics of clubs, cars, designer clothing and premium-brand vodka, the pair trapped in a web of aimless partying, unreconstructed masculinity and conspicuous consumption. The subject matter is all rather dead-end, but where their progressively pan-continental, pop-facing sound is concerned, there is little doubt that Young T & Bugsey are going places.