The Oldham rapper defies all odds and offers a voice of reason to anyone struggling with their mental health.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Remaining unapologetically true to himself, UK-Craigie’s consistent output has delivered some of the most honest and introspective lyrics in underground hip-hop. With his heartfelt songwriting easy for fans to resonate with, the Oldham born rapper has experienced a steady climb in online streams, with his ever-expanding audience helping him earn slots on regional radio stations such as BBC Radio Merseyside. In spite of this rising popularity, Craigie’s humbleness remains at the forefront of his personality, with his willingness to volunteer in the local community a true testament to his dispositional compassion. These traits translate over into his latest album, ‘Keep The Faith’, a lo-fi, acoustic hip-hop release, whose passionate mental health discourse is an essential listen, especially given how prevalent these issues remain in today’s society.

An intimate listen from beginning to end, ‘Keep The Faith’ combines Craigie’s vulnerability with some abstract instrumentals, whose minimalist input allows the rapper’s powerful lyrics to hit that bit harder. ‘Just Breathe’ opens the album with the crashing waves and rousing instrumentation, both of which provide a mellow foundation for Craigie’s assured delivery. But while having full confidence in his sharp cadence, the lyrics of self-doubt issue a conflicting mindset, as the rapper proceeds to speak on his battles with mental health and low self-esteem. A carefully curated tracklist, Craigie engages with the ambience of the production, which supplements his earnest writing and provides an additional outlet for capturing his feelings of pain. Such is the case on the remarkable ‘Someday’, a track which features some exceptional vocals from guest feature and Craigie’s former music teacher, Matt Lees. Delivering some excruciating lyrics regarding debt, neglect and feelings of worthlessness, the heavy piano chords and haunting atmosphere accentuate the rapper’s sense of weakness and hollow victories.

UK-Craigie is known for his acoustic sound and heartfelt lyrics.

But while certainly containing an element of cynicism, ‘Keep The Faith’ primarily serves as a celebratory underdog story. Depicting the journey of a man who’d been at his lowest but risen from the doldrums, the album’s themes of resilience are both impactful and inspirational. Riding the abstract wave on ‘Senzu’, Craigie highlights the importance of finding a balance in life, before confessing he was “saved by lyrics and beats”. And this isn’t the only occasion the Oldham rapper expresses his gratitude towards music, once again underlining the role a “microphone and a guitar” played in rehabilitating his mental health. ‘Growth’ perhaps best showcases this stoicism, an uplifting track which celebrates his achievements in life, as well as championing the satisfaction of being a musician, whose drive has nothing to do with money, nor fame.

Stream ‘Keep The Faith’ by UK-Craigie on Spotify.

Using tremendous levels of empathy, Craigie’s music is not only an escape for those who are struggling, but also a voice of comfort and reason. Keen to utilise his experiences with depression and anxiety for the benefit of others, the rapper delivers some vital words of wisdom, with his conscious and consoling lyrics offering reassurance for those who perhaps feel alone in this world – as he spits on the opening song; “put on your headphones, you’re not alone anymore”. A similar act of compassion is present on the heartfelt track, ‘Finley’. A more experimental track instrumentally, the themes of the song see the rapper issue a letter to his nephew, as he empathises with his struggles of growing up without a father, as well as pledging to be his shield in the face of any crossfire. These amiable characteristics are present right up until the closing ‘Misfits’, where Craigie’s honouring of diversity and non-conformity serve as a real breath of fresh air.

A raw, considered, and heartfelt body of work, ‘Keep The Faith’ shies away from no emotion. From the heartening ode to a friend on ‘Dominoes’, to the appreciation of his kin on ‘Daughters’, UK-Craigie uses his music as a form of therapy, disburdening all of his emotions in the hope that his experiences will help others improve. Combining his concise delivery and words of encouragement, the rapper has delivered a passionate body of work, whose underdog narrative is an inspiration to all.

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