Everywhere + Nowhere - Guvna B
There’s a real skill in the art of composing a record. If you can compile ten or twelve great tracks then hats off to you, but the masterpieces distinguish themselves above the rest by their ability to tell one continuous story throughout the record with each track flowing seamlessly into the next. This is where I have to give full credit to Guvna B because, in my opinion, ‘everywhere + nowhere’ is a complete, if not perfect, journey of an album.
The album starts with the contrasting tones of the aptly named grime track ‘Bittersweet’ which deals with the growth of his family and career alongside the loss of his father. The record’s title and refrain is introduced in this track as he reflects on how the items around his house remind him of his father, “Still got most of the gifts you've given me, It's like they're keeping you close, never ghost, Reminders all over the home ...It's like you're everywhere and nowhere”.
Gunva B continues the album with two more grime tracks but switches the intensity level up to 6th gear with the absolute bangers ‘Cushty’ and ‘Mazza’. The fourth track on the album makes way for the big feature on the album as he brings in Wretch 32 for the more chilled out ‘Fall On Me’ which provides a perfect avenue into the gospel section of the album containing ‘With Me All Along’ and ‘You Never Let Go’ which is a reworking of Matt Redman’s famous worship track.
"The genius behind this honest lyrical composition is it not only takes you on a journey through Guvna B’s thoughts but it also invites you into a conversation, one of which you leave feeling like you actually know him as a person. "
‘These are the Days’ is a perfectly placed track to follow up next, as it carries the DNA of a 90’s Two-Step UK Garage track, the roots of which can be found in gospel and soul music. Thus entering the 90’s section of the record with ‘Kumbayah’ which was reminiscent of a Fugees track and of course the huge sensation that is ‘Battle’ a track so popular that Mista Jam chose it as his track of the week on BBC 1xtra not just once, but on two consecutive weeks; the first time any track has had that privilege. The mood takes a more romantic turn with 90s R&B vibe ‘You’, a song for wife.
Having successfully transitioned the tone of the record Guvna B has set the appropriate context to hit the listener with the heavily themed Safe Place which provides an honest, condemning and redeeming appraisal of the church. The first half of the track addresses atrocities in the church such as sexual abuse by senior leaders, pastors taking money from the tithings of bankrupt families in order to buy private jets and people of influence using the faith to manipulate and oppress. Then the switch up happens and an excerpt from a Francis Chan preach condemns this distorted application of ‘church’ and Guvna B delivers one of my favourite lyrics in the album “I realised the other day, that there's hypocrites in the clubs too and people still go back to party. So, I go back to church 'cause I believe in what God has started”. He then launches into the redemption as he reflects on how the church “prayed for me when I lost my dad in an instant”, “gave me sight when I didn't have any vision” and “gave me songs when my mind was stuck in a prison” he highlights how the the church “feed the homeless and give them service”, “take the kids off the street and give 'em purpose” and “give a home to the nations so they can worship.”
Throughout the record he manages to strike a perfect balance between metaphor and literal lyrics; on occasion leaving the listener to connect the dots themselves before hitting them square in the face with blatancy. We see this in the record’s conclusion and title track ‘everywhere + nowhere’ where Guvna B reflects on the successes and struggles of his own career “two MOBOs and thirty countries... five million stream on the album, but still no radio, still no record deal, still they don't rate me” before dropping the sobering line “Still the token guy in the lineup, ticking the diversity box”. Throughout this song he reflects on the fact that he feels that he is now ‘everywhere and nowhere” picking up the refrain from the first track for himself, taking on his father’s mantle, thus closing the loop and completing the journey of the album.
This is a complex and carefully curated record, journeying through multiple genres and grappling with some heavy lyrical themes including grief, gun crime and abuse. Guvna B juxtaposes the weighty content by also including more seemingly mundane aspects of his life including a rap about his accounts and a phone conversation with his wife about getting a takeaway. The genius behind this honest lyrical composition is it not only takes you on a journey through Guvna B’s thoughts but it also invites you into a conversation, one of which you leave feeling like you actually know him as a person.
This is an exceptional piece of art. Well done, take a bow.