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4.1 out of 5 stars37
4.1 out of 5 stars
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James Devlin is a bit of a lad. The title of his debut
album confirms this. 'Bud, Sweat & Beer's' sounds like a
manifesto of a kind or a call to war for Dagenham yoof.

I suspect, however, that there's a bit more to this lad
than his moody cover shot would have us believe.
The album is good; very good in fact. Mr Devlin spits out
his thoughts well against dense percussive arrangements which
are as musically interesting as they are confrontational in
a well-behaved literary kind of way. The words have a lively
presence in Mr Devlin's hands. He can do double-time rhyming
with ease (he's clearly learned his lessons well from Mr Mathers)
and brings an appealing freshness to this well-worn genre.

His friends and helpers contribute additional tone and colour
here and there which helps to keep the fourteen tracks moving
along nicely without detracting from Mr Devlin's centre-stage
performances. Jodi Connor does a particularly good turn on
'Brainwashed', a wonderfully moody piece of post-hardcore(ish)
sturm und drang. Beauty and the beast working it all out!

'London City' is a cracker too. A an urban soundscape which
depicts a night out in the capital with energy and elan.
It sounds as though Mr Devlin likes to party hard but retains
a degree of moral sensibility even in his darker moments.

'Marching Through The Fog', however, is a far more angry affair.
It blisters and burns its way into the listening world firing
on all six cylinders. Between verse and chorus he seems to be
at odds with himself : throwing out hard-as-nails challenges
to all and sundry whilst at the same time doubt seeps in
insidiously through the cracks. A litany of violent imagery
railing against "the dying of the light". Reflective rage.

'Runaway' romps along on the back of an addictively broken beat
but the keys, strings and Yasmin's lovely vocal bring a touch
of something approaching soulful tenderness to the angst.

Emeli Sande chips in nicely too on the short-but-sweet 'Dreamer'.
These switches between hot and cold and sweet and sour serve to
sustain our interest and attention from beginning to end.

As endings go 'End Of Days' is a curious one. Mr Devlin's
apocalyptic vision is spun out over a doom-laden bunch of
big beats and grinding synth/guitar chord progressions. He
spits out his message like a nail gun pinning us to the wall.

An album of clever contrasts. A powerful debut. Brutally impressive.

Highly Recommended.
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on 16 September 2013
I first heard Brainwashed a few years ago before it was released, on a music video show presented by Tinchy Stryder. Tinchy may've been the reason I watched it but anyway I saw the video and thought the song was awesome, it was immediately catchy, had a very impressive female vocal at the chorus and I thought the lyrics were really quick and smart. Later I downloaded the single when it was released. It's still my favourite of his. The other single I enjoyed was Let it go and those 2 songs stuck in my mind for a while. I'd been meaning to purchase the album for a good while and recently finally did! The album's title Bud, sweat and beers pretty much reflects the style and attitude of James Devlin. The album cover is a picture of him standing up against a wall and that's reflective of the music - he's street, from East London, and in 1 of the songs he says if he wasn't doing what he is he'd probably be a hood. The rap lyrics are quick, smart and often quite clever. That's what I think attracted me in the 1st place was how good he is lyrically and he stands out from the crowd. The booklet has lyrics for just 4 of the songs which I'm a bit confused about.

The album begins with 1989 which introduces us to him and his growing up. He was born in the same year as me. I don't know whether this song's that honest, it's sprinkled with sex references and it's shocking if what he says is true. Apparently Kanye West called him a 'gangster rapper'. He says he's not a gangster rapper he just spits it real! The song has a guitar driven sound to it which I like but it's far from the best track on the album. Days and nights gets much more sincere and follows from Brainwashed into a decent sound for Devlin. I get the feeling he wanted to call the song 'I'll sleep when I'm dead' but the record label decided otherwise. It's a good track and you get the feeling about how serious he is. London city was released as a promo before the album release. The female vocal gives it an attractive sound but it's not a favourite of mine. He's telling a story of a night out with the lads in the city, going to clubs and watching girls "wiggling their arses". The chorus is pretty basic and the song isn't my thing. Marching through the fog is a good improvement with a more serious sound, quite aggressive and puts his message out to those speaking badly about him just because he's 'at the top'. Let it go is a definite highlight. Labrinth takes vocals at the chorus with Devlin taking the verses. The song expresses a man trapped, escaping from a poisonous relationship. "I just wanna be left alone, it's time to let it go" he tells us. "Run back to your mother and tell her I turned out the same as the others" is 1 of my favourite lyrics. Yesterdays news is good, not the greatest. I like his use of 'mince pies' as a cockney rhyming slang and his reference of Elvis; "I've been through the blues just like Elvis at his best time but I ain't wearing suede shoes I've just got the best rhymes". You can tell he's a hard-ass with his lyric "I'm dangerous, I'll dead guys"!

Community outcast is definitely up there with the best with powerful messages and very effective rhymes. He says he represents the jobless, the homeless, single mums and old folk that live alone. I'm sure growing up he was surrounded with the type of people he talks about and in this economic downturn this song really hits home. You can tell how old this song is because he references Gordon Brown. Runaway is another highlight certainly because of the great chorus by Yasmin and also some good lyrics about escaping . Our father is another of the best and 1 of my top favourites. It speaks about how God built this world for us and how he's looking down at all the terrible things that have happened in the world and feels disappointed; as Devlin states "I'd be cross that my son had to die on the cross" and Dogzilla's "My son died in vain" with Jesus supposedly dying for our sins and yet the world is still full of sin, corruption and evil. This song has a strong, moody sound and is incredibly moving with Devlin referencing Haiti, 9/11 and 7/7. He tells us "I was on the train and hour before"! I love the line "I shake my head as I whiz by in my spaceship" referring to God! Finally has a strong sound and Devlin states "how different is my life to another man's? I'm just trying to make a living in this cold, cold place". The song is about making it in the music industry and otherwise. Ghetts and Dogzilla do a decent job with their efforts to make a coherently harmonious and effective track. Dreamer stands out because of Emeli Sande's vocals. World still turns is another moody track with Devlin telling us "now I'm coming up they wanna build me up to break me down" talking about those who've turned their backs on him. "I'm telling you strife you've been through, might make your heart feel colder than Pingu" is a lyrical highlight! End of days begins with explosions and refers to the Mayan apocalypse which was supposed to be on 21st December 2012. I like "I've never seen an atheist pray until the approachment of Judgement day". The song is atmospheric and it's 1 of my favourites because I like apocalyptic songs.

It's a solid album; some tracks are really powerful and there are a few which are good but not great but nevertheless it is an album worth buying.
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on 2 November 2010
Downloaded this yesterday and have to say it is top quality, listened to it through 3 times now and still loving it. Brainwashed is quality, along with runaway, 1989, our father,community outcast and i made it. To be honest i cant find a weak song but those are my favourites. Everyone should support this young english rapper who is without doubt very talented!
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on 14 July 2015
This is the clean version, some tracks are edited and not the original, such as 'London City'. They've put some pseudo-fake Dubstep in there.
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on 5 February 2013
My Grandson bought this, when he stayed with us, and seems very pleased with his purchase, which reminds me, he owes me for it!
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on 3 November 2010
For such a long time i wanted to purchase this album but to my dismay when i saw the track list , two very pivotal songs were missing which are "Giant" and "Shot Music" ft giggs , although this is still a good album , i just feel it could be 4 - 5 star material with the inclusion of the two previously mentioned songs
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on 4 June 2016
Devlin a great grime mc
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on 8 November 2010
I was kind of feeling like music of late has hit a period of stagnation...then like a shot out of the dark, along come certain artists who really make you stand up and take notice...Devlin is there!!! The production, beats, samples etc it's all there. Lyrically the young man has a maturity beyond his years and this really makes me feel excited every time I listen to it. Community Outcast is my favourite track simply for the reality it copnjures up. (Makes me think of the movie Harry Brown for some reason). If Tichy and Tinie have opened up the playing fields for a new breed of British emcees, then Devlin is surely going to be one of the forces to be reckoned with...I know underground fans will be like "Sell out" but seriously, this is a top notch album.
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on 17 May 2012
This is a great album. I guess not many have heard of Devlin, but nice beats and nice lyrics.

similar-ish to The Streets but this guy has a better voice.
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on 1 June 2011
Devlin is a Grime artist from Essex. He's been gaining fans for quite a while now in the underground, but it's only at his debut album that he really started moving towards the mainstream. The best thing about this album though, is that it doesn't really sound like a mainstream album. This album is gritty and muddy in it's texture and sound, lyrically and sonically this album is not a bubblegum-pop affair, and this is why I respect Devlin so much presently. So much thought went into this album, whilst also sounding like Devlin had the freedom to make what he wanted on it. Totally a great album, worth checking out if you're a UK Hip-Hop fan, or otherwise.
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