When I previously wrote positively about Johnny VúDOE, it was to talk about his single ‘In The Summer’. Since then, VúDOE has dropped a project titled Return To Grey Skull, which follows more of the same DIY hip-hop ethic. ‘Flying High’ rollicks and shudders over trembling samples, the rapper’s voice clear and entirely focused. Few people are as selective in their sample choices and yet so so eclectic in their songwriting decisions, but VúDOE ticks both boxes. ‘Rotting’ is the most impressive lyrical offering, the rapper tapped into a dark, dark place for this one: ‘I’m out of touch for what it means to be tough. You ever crave death? Every bone in my body stay dense.’ Comparing VúDOE to similar artists and possible inspirations is futile because he feels entirely like his own unique product.
‘Rotting’ is a nice centrepiece for the EP, but it’s flanked by equally impressive tracks. ‘IOno’ delivers gruff, wall-gazing bars and snappy hooks, but everything feels like coated in a dusty haze that the rapper just can’t seem to shake off. This links in to ‘DustyN****’, which reveals the rapper’s reflective, self-deprecating side and marks him as a remarkably self-aware, emotionally mature artist capable of reflecting on both good times and bad. The project concludes with quasi-title track ‘Greyskull’, a more uplifting anthem that might be the rapper’s most articulate piece of music to date. This sentiment holds true for all five tracks, which when combined create a wonderful musical selection that fans of murky, lo-fi rap music can revel in.