Highly Rated - Blackstars CD [Highly Rated Entertainment]It takes a lot to be proud of who you are for many of today’s youth. Especially with a lack of decent mainstream role models. These youngers need to look and listen ferociously to really get some solid guidance. To hear someone who, in so many ways, is just like them. Spitting about ish they can relate to. And getting somewhere by doing something positive.

Highly Rated have got this one 'in the bag'. They’re flaunting themselves ‘loadsamoney fiddy’ style. Except they’re not flaunting their bling, garms or weapons, they’re flaunting their roots. Themselves, as proud Ghanian blood. ‘Blackstars’ is a personal, yet accessible track. Powerful, but not too heavy. Thoughtful, but not too deep. The chorus lines are anthem worthy, original mastermind. With a clever play on the colour theme - using the colours of the Ghanaian flag (red, green and yellow) as an extra tier. ‘Red cos I shed blood for my brothers and the green trees planted back in the motherland, we spit bars worth more than gold’. And the guys deserve more than gold for that.

Not only are they cunningly lacing language; they’re adding a new, unseen element in this whole self worth attitude. Don’t just be proud of who you are, be proud of where you’re from. Wave your flag…

The verse lines don’t really reach the same level thought. Dry chat that leaves you waiting impatiently for the chorus to kick in. Similar to the MCing workshops I’ve seen my mates do. Where they have kids spitting for the first time and coming up with simple, rather pointless lyrics, just to get into it. This lot really don’t have an excuse.

Bare respect to them - the attitude and the openness is top notch. But maybe they’ve spent too much time working on an image and parading their flags, than they have getting down some consistently quality lines. It’s a shame 'cos they can obviously spit, and the beats are buck. The less integral lines seem to have a different theme. They’re not proud, they’re arrogant. And the line between the two is so thin, yet so apparent. The ego stamps out the inspiration. ‘I’m like your favourite artist times two…’ Before we kick into the incomparably mint chorus.

The second track - Stupid, might make a point that need to be made, but follows the same unripe lyrical content.

So by all means, wave your flag up high above your heads. Even if, like me, you’ve got more than one. But keep your eyes on the ground too, and remember that there’s more to colours than paint and names.

‘Blackstars’ b/w ‘Stupid’ is released digitally everywhere on 3rd March ‘08.

By Nino

Highly Rated - Blackstars CD [Highly Rated Entertainment]

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