Straight off the back of his debut album Nothing Great About Britain, Slowthai clearly has more to say before the year is out. Having previously collaborated with Mura Masa on Doorman, the two artists clearly have chemistry working together: as a producer, Mura Masa seems to bring out the best in Slowthai’s songwriting, the latter dispensing pearls of cautionary wisdom here in customary tongue-in-cheek style. If you’re looking for an easy sell, Deal Wiv It sounds like it could be on the opening credits 2020 recasting of Skins and it absolutely slaps.
According to an interview on NME the lyrics arose from a conversation between the two young upstarts, which fits; the opening verse feels very much like a stream of consciousness from Slowthai, walking about the flat with ‘tea in his hands, trying to do stuff’. He also explores some of the consequences of his newfound fame, acknowledging old mates who feel that his status has changed him (needless to say, he bites back in kind). Mura Masa said in a separate video that he felt he’d become known for creating a certain kind of music with a certain type of beat; with this project, he wanted to “set those expectations on fire.” He became more involved in the structural side of the songwriting and the lyrics on this song, and wanted to encourage Slowthai to ‘shout’ or improvise instead of rapping.
Multiple elements of the track apparently pay homage to previous artists, from the ridiculous bass-boosted D’n’B hook to the staccato guitar chords in the background that subtly recall elements of Psycho Killer by Talking Heads; buried in the mix during the second bridge is a keen organ reminiscent of The Doors. If anything it sounds more like The Streets than The Streets themselves do at the moment, although equally there’s a tangible Dizzee Rascal energy to Slowthai’s raucous jeers.
Despite drawing from numerous different songs from across the decades, Deal Wiv It is squarely rooted in 2019. Slowthai is defiant, doubling down on the themes and attitudes he’s rapidly become notorious for: this is, after all, the man who held up a mock severed head of Boris Johnson during his performance at this year’s Mercury Prize awards. Before the final chorus he declares that “life gets hard but it’s quite exciting; I wouldn’t change it for the world.” At the end of the music video for the song he dives into a soft top convertible with Mura Masa in the back seat, the pair of them laughing like maniacs. Who knew the backlash against neo-capitalism would sound this good?