In a recent interview with Xs Noize, Shotty Horroh (Adam Rooney) told us: “Music, in my opinion, has gone a bit two dimensional lately – you kind of know what the formula is going to be and that’s not for every artist. It’s the industry standard that people use specific programs and I want to brighten up the spectrum again and let people know that I’m here to try and make good sounds and soundtracks to people’s lives rather than just trying to stay with a fad.” His debut album, Salt of the Earth, is the former 2012 Don’t Flop Battler of the Year hoping to prove himself again that he is a true contender.
Salt of the Earth opens with Dynamite. The cacophony of influences is dazzling, unexpected but a winning combination few other artists have experimented with; let alone made successful. This song opens with classic Britpop guitars, before exploding with a hybrid of Macklemore and Eminem style of rap. Dynamite then reaches a crescendo with a chorus where Horroh’s vocals sound halfway between Liam Gallagher and Steven Scott Harwell (Smash Mouth). Being politically charged, Dynamite has the potential to unite listeners of hip-hop and indie kids. Shotty’s diction is so superb; he makes the lyric video redundant. So far Salt of the Earth is another rite of passage for the former Radio 1 Xtra Charlie Sloth champion best rapper outside of London.
Likewise, Shudehill offers impressive mix-up of sounds and influences with The Arctic Monkeys being the most prevalent. Shudehill is also politically charged. The NHS and job market are tackled as well as Shotty’s halcyon retrospective take on the good old days. Alien also has a bizarre but winning combination. Oasis’s impact on the Shotty is most prevalent here. It is impossible not to hear Cigarettes and Alcohol and Don’t Look back in Anger. The Dandy Warhol’s Get Off is also almost perfectly matched as is the complementing organ arrangements.
The music from Manchester and northern England dominates Salt of the Earth, however, the Macklemore and Eminem rapper within Shotty comes alive in Danger, alongside a heavier offering of Finley Quaye’s Sunday Shining arrangements. Salt of the Earth also sees the resurrection of the battle rapper. The influence of Desiigner’s Panda is felt and meets an indie/rock world at the chorus. The two surprisingly get on spectacularly. One wonders how these two sounds, the antithesis of each other did not meet up and work together sooner! Wish You Well, the playout track is by far the most unique. A funky, smooth, slow R&B jam with a subtle Shed Seven Chasing Rainbows vibe about it changes the course of the album and confirms Shotty’s songwriting process is anything but mechanical.
Upon speaking to Xs Noize, Shotty Horroh set out to make an album that told the story of the real Adam Rooney. Rooney confessed that “Now was time to wear my heart on my sleeve and tell stories and try and get across me as a person a friend and a son”. Adam wins this battle with flying colours. Salt of the Earth is a galvanising adrenaline rushing album, which produces the excitement Shotty Horroh must have felt growing up in the 1990’s listening to Oasis. The former Rap Battle champion does not miss any opportunities to demonstrate his rapping abilities. The lyrics are intelligent and have the potential to reach out to a wide audience and to a new generation. Adam could have potentially made more of his freestyle rapping skills and could have explored the musical style felt on Wish You Well more. Nonetheless, you are definitely left wanting more. Salt of the Earth is like Definitely Maybe, a (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? could inevitably follow! For now, let’s celebrate the “big crazy beautiful broad spectrum” that is: The Salt of the Earth.