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Glasshousetenant on the Rise, a New Wave of Hip-Hop Emerges in the UK

Updated: Nov 26, 2023

Sometimes, music is candy. Sometimes, it's even sweeter. There's a unique thrill in discovering my next musical obsession: it's full-body exuberance, often followed by excited texts to friends, and sometimes accompanied with spontaneous bursts of laughter. When I first heard "Guy With the Blade" by Glasshousetenant, it was all three.

I was on a plane that was landing in Amsterdam, looking for a few songs to soundtrack the final stretch of the flight. After some casual scrolling, I found some Glasshousetenant songs I had downloaded when Jim Legxacy shouted out his newest single, "Fractured," on Instagram. Legxacy is a London based rapper, singer, and producer, whose mixtape homeless n***a pop music is possibly my favorite hip-hop project of 2023. It is an infectious blend of Afrobeats, UK drill, and Jersey club with math-y guitar riffs and emo inspired vocals that elevate the already jaw dropping production to new heights. Legxacy’s sound is a refreshing approach to many current hip-hop trends that can sometimes feel played out, and hopefully a sign of a new wave of music to come. Some of my optimism for this wave is inspired by comments Legxacy has made about his excitement at being a part of a blossoming community of artists in the UK. That drove me to take a dive into the alleged scene, and of all the music I’ve since explored, Glasshousetenant’s stands in a league of its own.

Glasshousetenant, photo by fidel.

Glasshousetenant has a way of weaving together guitars, vocal chops, and punchy percussion to create enveloping atmospheres that are constantly in motion. While his music shares many similarities with Legxacy’s, such as abbreviated song lengths and intricate vocal manipulation, his style is more indie rock inspired, which can be heard in his choices of guitar tones and drum grooves. This is evident on “Guy With the Blade,” which kicks off with soaring distorted guitars that immediately caught my ear. After a rendition of the chorus plays over this riff, the production swells—chopped sirens, vocals and drums swirl in, opening up into a chaotic yet beautiful universe. The sonic landscape perfectly compliments Glasshousetenant’s lyrics as he paints a picture of an early traumatic experience, being held up by the guy with the blade. Seamless evolution of the production continues throughout the verse, as the beat swells and more pads and layered vocals enter the fold. The expanse eventually gives way to a stripped back chorus, continuing to fall away as the percussion ultimately leaves behind a simple atmospheric pad. This song knocked me out of my seat and I replayed it instantly. In just over two minutes, it packs a punch more powerful than what most songs deliver in four or five. I was entranced.

While this is probably my favorite Glasshousetenant track to date, his other singles share many similar qualities and can be equally irresistible. I spent a comparable amount of time looping the song "Last Stand," which clocks in under two minutes and still manages to generate incredible momentum. After record crackling plays over a math rock guitar riff and sets the scene, the chorus comes in with some of the crunchiest drums I’ve been lucky enough to encounter, scratching an itch only the best percussion can. The song is simple yet constantly moving, with a second guitar layer coming in around the thirty second mark that expands the atmosphere into a darker, more immersive landscape. Not one minute into the song, the guitar modulates. I nearly fainted.

The song "First Class Mutant" is a much sunnier vibe, bringing in a bright guitar riff with a warm melody that evolves into pitched vocal chops and groovy 808 hits. It is perhaps the only Glasshousetenant song thus far with a real bridge, which is home to piano keys and a gorgeous female vocal melody. It is so smooth and unmanipulated, giving perfect contrast to the more processed production in other parts of the song. It ends by dropping out into pillowy synths and guitar strums, giving the feeling of sailing off into the sunset. The last light hour on a perfect day. Chef’s kiss. His most recent single, "Fractured," also showcases Glasshousetenant’s seamless marriage of guitar riffs, evolving beats and layered vocal chops, although as his shortest song to date, it can leave a bit to be desired. Nonetheless, it is well worth a listen and has kept my mouth watering for his next release.

I think I've said enough. By now, you might've been able to listen to all five of Glasshousetenant's songs in less time than it took to read this article. We can't all be as concise as the man of the hour. But let me be clear: if you're a fan of alternative hip-hop artists like Tyler, The Creator, BROCKHAMPTON, or brakence, it's high time you gave Glasshousetenant a spin. There is a new wave coming in the UK.


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