The career of UK rap artist Stefflon Don started slowly, but it’s been growing smartly in time this year. She first surfaced in 2015 when she released a cover of Wretch 32’s “Six Words”. Then she gained more commercial success with the title single featuring American rapper French Montana from her Hurtin’ Me EP.
Finally, she was included in the XXL Freshman Class in June 2018 as the first British artist ever to make the list. That’s impressive for somebody who hasn’t released a longplay yet… Instead of this, she decided to come out with a second mixtape simply titled Secure.
The cover of the mixtape is an obvious homage to Lil’ Kim’s 2000 The Notorious K.I.M. album cover. After she revealed the artwork, Foxy Brown – an enemy for Kimberly Jones for years – blocked Stefflon Don on Instagram. Interesting action, especially given that some inspirations from Foxy Brown can be heard on the mixtape.
But Birmingham native is keeping it real from day one.
The mixtape opens with a very aggressive intro titled “Lil B***h”. The raw talent she has been showing shines through with a very offensive flow. “You lil’ b***h, always talking ‘bout a couple comments / You lil’ b***h, always f**king with my f**king money”, she spits like she’s the last one to bite her tongue.
She continues to express her strength on the track called “Jellio“. The beat, inspired by some Asia sounds, is so chilled and so pretentious at the same time. The British artist goes hard on her haters as she raps: “Publicise my tweets but never posted when / I signed myself for more than half an M / 1.2 to be exact, ask my n***a right“.
The narcissistic tone proceeds also in the next song “Finesse“. “This ain’t ordinary, ask my n**a Drake / He told me I’m the realest and them b***hes fake“, she raps badly.
The tempo goes slower after an interesting interlude with a kid’s voice. On “What You Want“, Stefflon Don pours her heart out about fame, personal struggles and luxury life. On the melancholic trap beat, she sounds like a female version of Future, who also features on the mixtape by the way.
By working with big names like Future, DJ Khaled (co-producer of the last song on the mixtape titled “Win“) and Sean Paul (he’s on the bonus remix for “Hurtin’ Me“), she earns some real respect in the rap game and make her appearance global.
The competition to “Senseless“, probably the biggest Stefflon Don track on the mixtape, is a very light track titled “Pretty Girl” featuring Tiggs Da Author. The dancehall vibes and Jamaican roots make you dance just like “Oh Yeah” by the previously mentioned Foxy Brown. With this track, it seems like the British artist is about to find her perfect and original sound, which will allow her to dominate the music landscape.
“Pretty Girl” is a radio friendly single, but there’s more. “Both Ways” is an ultimate slinky hit, where Stefflon gets more vulnerable. “Yes I’m a slide freak, but only for my man / This is for my dons so you hoes won’t understand”, she flirts with Fekky, which is a featuring artist. She also shows her more R&B or pop side in a song called “Favourite Girl“.
Meanwhile, she also brings some gangster bravado on songs like “Precious Heavy“, while “Crunch Time” is the perfect track you would bang on a Friday night at a very expensive club. The dark, trap beat sticks in your head forever, as she raps: “B***hes steady trippin’, they be hatin’ cause I’m stuntin’ / When I pull up they be dippin’, now these hoes ain’t sayin’ nothin’“.
The project runs a bit long but don’t forget it’s still a mixtape. It leaves various lasting impressions that make you curious to how her debut album would sound like. Stefflon Don is definitely pushing full force in the rap game.
While there’s an infamous beef between Nicki Minaj and Cardi B, she obviously is not about to take their spots at this point, but it’s good to have another decent female rapper to listen to, far away from all the show business drama. And it’s Stefflon Don at the moment.
Purchase Stefflon Don’s Secure mixtape on iTunes here, and stream it on Spotify below.
Words by Julia Borowczyk