Hailing from West London, twenty-six year old Ashley ‘Bashy’ Thomas has grown to become one of the most well-known urban artists in the UK. After his rise to fame in 2007 with controversial, yet positive and inspiring ‘Black Boys’, which soon became one of the most important singles in recent British hip-hop history, Bashy has released a wide variety of tracks ranging from a more underground sound to mainstream dance music like 2010’s Fantasy, attracting fans from a variety of backgrounds.
Alongside music, Bashy has had an active acting career which is still going strong. He was a theatre student at the BRIT School for Performing Arts, and has won and been nominated for multiple awards in both film and music. He recorded the lead single, and was assistant music supervisor, to the BAFTA winning Adulthood and has starred in British films Shank and 4321. Earlier this year his vocation took a different direction as he recited one of Shakespeare’s most renowned dramatic monologues for BBC Learning’s Off By Heart Shakespeare. With such talent for music and acting, Bashy is one of the most promising stars in today’s urban community.
Crunchie is Bashy’s fifth official mixtape and precedes his second studio album The Great Escape, which will feature mainstream artists such as Professor Green, Wretch 32 and Loick Essien, due for release in 2012. While Crunchie is likely to keep his devoted fans content until the album next year, I am left feeling slightly underwhelmed after having listened to it a few times, despite trying my very best to like it as much as I was anticipating. I really do like Bashy as an artist, especially after such a banging debut album, Catch Me If You Can released in 2009, and to be honest I was expecting more. Perhaps this is a result of the hype surrounding the release – any one of his 170,000 combined fans on Facebook or Twitter can vouch for this build-up. With a different track from the mixtape being uploaded to YouTube every Wednesday and frequent “get ready for the release” tweets, I was expecting some serious bars and sick tunes. However, I’m aware that I may be being far too harsh, and there is a strong possibility that I might alter my opinions on Bashy when the album comes out.
One of the very good tracks is Angels Can’t Fly. Bashy examines the issues surrounding the riots that shook the country in summer, and gives a voice to the young people of today. His talent for story-telling truly shines through on this track and his delivery is on point; the emotion in his voice is genuine and heartfelt. The bars in Spaceship Freestyle, Hustle Hard and John are the best on the mixtape, and the tongue-in-cheek Glad You Came interestingly features Irish boyband The Wanted – but I’ll let you listen to it to find out Bashy’s take on it; I suppose you could say it’s a love song of sorts…!
Overall, I’d give Crunchie a six out of ten. Compared to Bashy’s usual standard it isn’t as great as it was touted to be, especially when comparing the collection of tracks to those on 2006’s outstanding Chupa Chups. I am fully aware that I may be being too harsh, but I can’t help recalling some of Bashy’s truly exceptional tracks from merely a few years ago, think Kidulthood to Adulthood era. His flow in Crunchie is a strong point; the vocal presence, punchlines and lyrics are good, although could be better, but one of the main issues within the mixtape his that the subject matter within songs strays too much. When listening to a new mixtape from an established artist, you are naturally going to judge it by comparison to earlier material – this is why I can’t bring myself to join in the hype that surrounds Crunchie.
These are the Bashy levels I’m looking for!!!
But check out Bashy’s mixtape for yourself and let us know your thoughts!!!