Tomos Williams listens to AWDL (Artist With Dual Language), the new release from MC and Producer, Mr Phormula.
Welsh hip-hop has been gaining plenty of attention lately, from the 50 years of Welsh hip-hop celebration presented by Focus Wales in Wrexham over the weekend, to Amgueddfa Cymru – Museum Wales’ Welsh hip-hop exhibition soon to be opening it’s doors this summer, to the FAW adopting Sage Todz and Juice Menace to promote both the male and female national football teams. Add to this names like Mace the Great, Lem Freck, Niques, Luke RV, Izzy Rabey, Skunkadelic, and you can see that Welsh rap is in rude health.
One of the main-stays of the scene over the last twenty years has been MC/Producer Mr.Phormula who’s just released his newest offering A.W.D.L (Artist With Dual Language).
Having appeared on the scene with Welsh language rap pioneers Pep Le Pew in the early 00s, Mr. Phormula has developed into an unique producer and heavy-weight on the Welsh hip-hop scene. He’s been a prolific voice releasing a stream of singles alongside stand-out albums for over ten years. Cymud (2014), Llais/Voice (2017) and Tiwns (2020, which includes the lockdown anthem ‘Normal Newydd’) have cemented Mr.Phormula’s position as Welsh hip-hop royalty.
Working from his Studio Panad in Llanfrothen, Snowdonia, Mr. Phormula is one of many MCs worldwide demonstrating that hip-hop doesn’t have to be created in an ‘urban’ environment to be both good and authentic. To prove this point, the first track on AWDL is Tir (translated as ‘Land’) – where Mr.Phormula locates his music firmly in his land – the landscape of Wales, his home as a Welsh language rapper. “Dal yma fel Elidir” (“still here like Elidir”), “Gwaed y Cymraeg yn gorlifo, Celtiaid pur ‘da ni’n ffurfio, Undeb a nerth ma heddwch, da ni yma, da ni adra”.
On various tracks Mr. Phormula mixes and combines his influences, from grime, to house to techno (Amser) while simultaeniously rapping in both Welsh and English – ‘Bilingual Bar Bombing‘ is a highlight in this respect, which also features 3hree8ight rapping in Welsh, who has shades of MCSleifar of Welsh language hip-hop pioneers Tystion in his dead-pan monotone delivery.
Having previously collaborated with hip-hop legend KRS-ONE on a stand alone track, on AWDL, Mr. Phormula includes an interlude where CHUCK D (of Public Enemy) introduces the track ‘Safe Bet’ on his radio show, “Mr Phormula delivers his usual vocal mastery of the Welsh language , wow!” which features Detroit rapper Guilty Simpson – “Detroit to Wales…It’s Cymraeg world-wide, that’s the policy” – excellent!
Another notable international collaborator on AWDL is AKIL THE MC, member of the Jurassic 5 on ‘Global Reactor’.
There are serious bangers left, right and centre on this album as Mr.Phormula demonstrates his verbal dexterity, in both Welsh and English, his unique production trademarks – combining techno and drum n bass with blistering rapping – while Mr. Phormula certainly has the ability to create massive anthemic hooks as on the tracks ‘Amser’ and ‘AWDL‘.
There’s no doubting that this is an album by a Welsh rapper – points of reference are the Celts, Llywelyn, Hedd Wyn, the Mabinogi, the Welsh language, the Welsh landscape and many more while Mr.Phormula’s ability to collaborate with both Welsh rappers and international names continues.
AWDL is another landmark in Welsh hip-hop.
AWDL is available to stream now, via Bandcamp.