Welsh-born, Brighton-based singer, rapper, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Ren Gill has released one of the most important albums of the last decade. Sick Boi is the work of a lyrical genius, and, in my humble opinion, its importance in modern music cannot be underestimated.
Ren – Sick Boi – The Other Songs
Release Date: Out Now
Words: Robert Adams
Before we go any further, Ren’s Sick Boi album isn’t Metal or even rock! It’s a hip-hop album. The world of rock and hip hop have merged successfully in the past – Anthrax and Public Enemy’s Bring The Noise and Aerosmith and Run DMC’s Walk This Way, to name two very successful cross-genre collaborations.
Rock and Metal have always been seen as outcasts in the world of mainstream music. The same applies to hip-hop.
My journey into the world of Ren Gill started back in January 2023 when The Darkness frontman Justin Hawkins covered Ren’s Hi Ren music video in his Justin Hawkins Rides Again YouTube channel. He was left speechless, as was pretty much everyone who watched the video in its entirety.
The video very quickly surpassed the one million views mark, and ten months later, it currently sits at over twenty million views. Hi Ren isn’t on the Sick Boi album, with Ren saying, “I see that track as a stand-alone piece. There wasn’t a place for it on the Sick Boi album.”
Ren’s promotion campaign for Sick Boi has been unique. He’s been in Canada for most of the year, undergoing medical treatment for autoimmunity and Lyme disease. Therefore, he couldn’t do a normal promotional campaign. He couldn’t play any gigs due to his ongoing treatment and even had to turn down a slot at Glastonbury.
Instead, all of his promotion has been done on social media and YouTube. His music videos are works of art in themselves and, coupled with his socially aware lyrics, mean that the package is very hard to ignore.
As the album title suggests, Sick Boi mainly deals with Ren Gill’s ongoing medical and mental issues, and no punch misses the target. There are obviously many old-school hip-hop influences within Sick Boi, and there’s a major tip of the hat to The Beastie Boys in What You Want.
Su!c!De covers the death of Ren’s friend from Wales, who took his own life. It’s a highly emotional song, obviously, given the subject matter, but he handles it with grace. When speaking about his ongoing medical issues in tracks like Murderer, Illest Of All Time and the title track Sick Boi, Ren brings you into a world that, unfortunately, many people are more than used to but is very rarely spoken about.
The video for his latest single. Money Game PT 3. is a cinematic tour de force and covers the subject of human greed.
Sick Boi is a totally independent release, and after a head-to-head battle with veteran pop singer Rick Astley’s Are We There Yet? album, managed to hit the #1 slot on the UK album chart.
This is a remarkable achievement, given the lack of major label support and an unconventional promotion campaign.
This result can only be seen as good news to independent bands and artists of any genre, including rock and Metal. Ren has proved that independent releases can take on the big boys and win.