2011 was the year that Ed Sheeran had just began to enter into the public consciousness. His lead single, The A Team, had been released in early June and August would see the song that would eventually become his signature tune, You Need Me, I Don’t Need You. While promoting the single, Sheeran would send out a remix of the single to all on his mailing list. The remix would feature a hear onto unknown rap duo from Brighton, and it was from here that this writers relationship with Rizzle Kicks would begin.
Jordan Stephens and Harley Alexander-Sule were childhood friends when during a jamming session they realised that their voices fit well together and thus Rizzle Kicks came to be. There was something about Rizzle Kicks and the music that appealed to this writer and a series of remixes by the duo on YouTube would demonstrate a talent and an imagination that was worth paying attention to.
The debut album from the group, Stereo Typical, which was released on 28 October 2011 was a collection of thirteen fun and energetic pop/hip-hop songs that would go on to soundtrack one of the most exciting and positive periods of this writers life.
The lead single off the album, Down With The Trumpets, would perfectly showcase the lyrical prowess of Stephens along with the natural camaraderie between the duo. There was also nothing wrong with hearing some brass on the radio waves again.
The next single would be the song Mama Do The Hump that would come out in December 2011. This song seemed to fit perfectly with life at the time. When I first heard it I was trying to take each day as it came and not overthink anything, and here was a carefree song that did not deal with heavy or serious subject matter, here was a song that simply wanted to make the listener dance. It worked. The accompanying dance routine would also become a feature of every night out for the remainder of my third year in University College Cork.
Another song on the record that would resonate with this writer at this period in late 2011 and 2012 was When I Was A Youngster, a song that talked about how getting older can often stall the ambitions that you had when you were younger. The song was fun and light but addressed a concern that I had at the time that perhaps I was settling into a rhythm and had stopped trying to challenge myself to improve.
Come the quarter way point of 2012, life was starting to change for the better for this writer. People who would sculpt the immediate future of my life had entered it and this had lead to this writer taking a more confident and optimistic view on what life was about to throw at me. It was for this reason that the opening track of the album, Dreamers, a song about following your dreams and refusing to stop until you have achieved what you wanted quickly became my favourite track on the record. While this sentiment may seem in contradiction to my relationship with When I Was A Youngster, the changes that were occurring in my life in early 2012 had caused a shift in my mindset as “Positive Thinking” became the default mentality.
Stereo Typical arrived in my ears at a period of my life that would have a massive influence on me, an influence that is still present in aspects of my personality. It was an album that never tried to be too clever, instead it was just trying to provide listeners with a positive and up beat view, an outlook that I too was trying to adapt at this time. As a result, Stereo Typical and the music of Rizzle Kicks will always hold a special place for me.