Album Review: D-Block Europe - Street Trauma

Updated: Jan 9, 2020

Right, first things first: this probably wasn't the first choice as an album to review. Their genre, which encompasses elements of Hip-Hop and Trap, is not one I am too familiar with, and therefore I feel pretty underqualified in reviewing this record. I know of nothing similar to compare it to, meaning there are no markers which I can review this by. But there was barely anything else out recently, so the choices were minimal. It's proving to be a tough review to write, and all I can say, honestly, is whether I enjoyed it or not.

Well, it was okay.

One member of the band, Young Adz, said that this record was only for the streets, and perhaps that contributed to the mellow reaction. Sat in my bedroom at midday, listening to this music over headphones, does not feel like the optimal way to experience this music. This is music for the underground, for gritty clubs and people from backgrounds far different to my own. In those contexts, this record will sound excellent and appropriate for the scene. The setting that it was listened to in likely didn't help its case.

There were some tracks that stood out from the crowd (and 16 tracks on one album is a crowd). 'No Cellular Site', 'Beautiful' and 'Set In Stone' were particularly enjoyable listens on an album which, overall, sounded very samey after a while. Though none of it could be classified as bad in isolation, the whole album seemed to blend into one, like 16 versions of the same idea, rather than 16 genuinely separate songs. Their style is distinctive, but clearly not one they experiment with or deviate from too often.

The record also doesn't experiment much with its lyrical content, with quite an abundance of profanity and constant sexual references in practically every song. Whether that naturally comes with the genre's territory or not, I don't know, but it doesn't work for me. Sure, it would have been fine a few times, but hearing the same kind of things on every song again makes it seem stale after a while. That being said, that does make the odd song with a different approach fresh, with 'Prescription Drugs' discussing addiction, an important subject to bring to light.

D-Block Europe haven't been around a long time, having risen fast from their early releases in 2017. They've been consistent in their releases ever since; this was their third release of 2019, with each of them hitting the top 10 in the UK, so it's fair to assume that they are a hard-working duo. But it may be an idea for them to, perhaps, slow down and work on the next record for a little longer.

In fairness, it seems to have gone down well in the scene, so it's likely that these thoughts on the album are in the minority. It's certainly doubtful that a white guy from rural Worcestershire is really in the targeted demographics for their audience.

Street Trauma was an interesting listen, one I am not familiar with, and that made it a learning experience. Unfortunately, it just sounded a little dull by the end, the trap beats and lyrics all blending into one. Some experimentation and deviation wouldn't go amiss, something to change up the status quo of their sound. It's a record that will work very well in the scene and in the clubs, but it's not suited as something to listen to whilst you're shopping or doing the dishes. D-Block Europe are clearly very good at their craft, but they need to expand their sound a bit if they are to maintain their success.