UK Lyricist, ATO Channels the Penmanship of the Past for EP3
Evan Dale // Nov 23, 2019
At times it seems unfair that a predicated supposition exists differentiating UK-born hip-hop from that from elsewhere based on a depth of lyricism. British artists are often delineated as poets and when they’re not, listeners often wonder why they chose a different lane. But, decades of particularly poetic British hip-hop have laid that foundation with reason – even if times are changing and the pen is slowly being evenly distributed with the sword.
But even in the changing times, certain artists are so reflective of the UK’s lyrically driven past, that it’s enticing to see how they might do it under a modern microscope. And without question, ATO is one of the most curiosity-inviting wordsmiths of the up-and-coming cloth. His first project since 2017’s Man of the House, EP3 breathes of its understated title and lowercase track names. It’s minimal in its production; in its energy. But it exudes of ever-clever songwriting and discourse.
It hides nothing, tells all, and emerges a blueprint for lyrically driven UK hip-hop inspired equally by garage’s deadpan delivery and electronica’s production techniques.