It’s been over two years since John Glacier burst onto the scene, seemingly out of nowhere, with her debut album SHILOH: Lost For Words. On that formidable record, Glacier excavated the depths of her soul, delivering raw lyrics and razor-sharp flows across some of Vegyn’s best production work. Since then, the Hackney rapper’s caustic bars have caught the imagination of a wider creative universe, with Grace Wales Bonner frequently tapping her to sit front row, and Daniel Lee inviting her to soundtrack his Burberry debut. Now, Glacier has caught the attention of New York record label Surf Gang, who have enlisted her for a new project, the collaborative album JGSG. In contrast to Glacier’s scarce output, the NY collective are having a prolific 2023, having released two albums, SGPM and OXygen, and a joint EP with Central Florida rapper 454.
At its heart, JPSG is a soul-searching lament, tracing themes of longing, loss and mental strife. On the woozy opener “WAIT 4 ME”, Glacier reveals “no, I don’t trust/It’s slowly taking a toll”, while glowering synths soundtrack her frustration. “Would you wait for me?”, she asks persistently throughout the track – but there’s something in her unhurried delivery that suggests she already knows the answer to that simple question. Elsewhere, the overthinking anthem “MINDMAP” takes us on a tour of Glacier’s analytical mind, where she’s “wide awake still dreaming in my mind map”. Glacier’s glacial flow and the track’s droning, mesmeric production perfectly capture how, often, your own thoughts can be your biggest enemy.
There’s a burst of BPM on “REGAL”, a euro-dance-inspired paean to taking the throne (“I was sitting in the dark, now people know my name”), but it’s the searching and freakish closer “TELESCOPE” that packs the most punch. “Took a telescope to get out the dark”, intones Glacier on the song’s chorus, a fitting metaphor on a track that sounds like the soundtrack to an alien abduction. Despite the X-Files inspiration, the Harrison-produced song is ultimately hopeful, existing in a world where “rainbows get out the dark”, and Glacier emerges from the blackness to find that she has “stepped in gold”.
In other news, Earl Sweatshirt teams up with the Alchemist for a surprise album (listen in full here), Ariana Grande revisits her debut Yours Truly, while comedian Jaboukie shares his first foray into the world of music.