Song-By-Song: LV & Josh Idehen – ‘Islands’

Responsible for a modern classic three years ago with ‘Routes’, it was perhaps inevitable that production trio turned duo LV would once again collaborate with beat poet-cum-MC Josh Idehen. Their latest work together, ‘Islands’, isn’t a drastic re-evaluation of the formula that made their first record so vital and exciting – instead its more of a slight tweak of sorts. This is once again a record that sounds impossibly ‘London’ – thanks  to LV’s nore more current potpourri of bassweighted beats and Idehen’s street-smart and introspective lyrics. The latter in fact arguably proves to be the guiding force on ‘Islands’, with his performance landing somewhere between the urban alienation expunged in literary classics such as Sam Selvon’s ‘The Lonely Londoners’ and the rapid fire delivery of Grime and Garage’s finest MC’s from over the years.

Looking to hear a little bit more about the fifteen track that make up ‘Islands’, we roped in Idehen to give us the inside track. Read on for the witty and frank story behind one of the most unique albums of the year.


1. New Pen

This was the first track I purposefully wrote for this album. Pre-production was similar to the first album: LV sent around 40 beats and soundscapes and I wrote to them, so there was a real sense of deja vu starting out, which I channelled into this verse, as well as lines on our studio habits and stuff I’d see riding to Will’s house. Old lady walking her dog is Pitbulls and Great Dames. I’m simple like that.

2. Run Down

My mum lives on the third floor of a council estate. It’s grimey, unless you live there, then it’s home. I paid her a surprise visit one time last year; she’d gone to church, and although I had spare keys I didn’t have the fob to make it through the main estate security door. After ten minutes of buzzing her flat, her junkie neighbours yelled at me from the balcony, ‘That door isn’t working no more, just come in!’ I spent an hour in my former bedroom being my usual moody self.

3. Obsessed

I had my ‘intense’ period back when I was younger. Did zilch for my love life at the time. Who knew girls don’t like you calling all the time? Awkward.

4. Imminent.

Early 21st Century. Come home to blue police lines and blood stains on the concrete. A neighbourhood ruffian had been chased off the third floor balcony. Heard lady say to another ‘bet when he woke up today he didn’t know his time was imminent.’ Being the word thief that I am, I stole her words.

5. Talk Trim

I’d written this one when we on tour last year. LV had made this beat called ‘Trim’ where all I said was the word Trim, but on stage it got a bit boring me just saying ‘Trim’ over and over like a plum, so I wrote a new verse. Halfway through making this album, Will was like ‘what about that verse you kept doing when we were on tour?’ and I was like ‘oh yeeeeah! I forgot about that.’ Voila.

6. Mistakes

I wrote the ‘ball and chain’ line and expanded from there. I sometimes find it easier to write about my moodier moments by pretending I was someone else looking like me: so this was me sorting of telling myself off for such a mope-face.

7. Shake

I think this was one of the last tracks LV finished. It’s similar in structure to some of the ‘Routes’ tracks, as in IM BARELY ON IT. YOU CAN HARDLY HEAR WHAT I AM SAYING. WHAT AM I SAYING. I DON’T KNOW. AND YOU WILL NEVER KNOW EITHER. SOMETHING ABOUT BRIGHT BLUE JEANS. I DUNNO.

8. Shudder

Back in Nigeria I would scale the school fences and go to the local drinking parlour and spend my pocket money on palm wine until I felt like I couldn’t walk. One time I puked on the wrong person. Surprisingly I can run very fast when drunk.

9. Make It Count

Reminiscing on my N38 to 3am arrival in my mom’s flat from my bar-shift nights, smelling of cider and cigarettes, brother and mum still at work. I’d make some toast, then go stand on the balcony and watch foxes skirt about and the odd dead-of-night occurrences. Also, I recently became an atheist, though I always hated going to church. Used to piss mum off a lot because back in Nigeria we could never say no, but when we came to London we were like ‘allow that, I’m not going anymore.’

10. That Old Darkness

I was moody.

11. DDBS

Again, this is about the N38.

12. Out Of The Blue

True story. Ex from years back Facebooked me recently like ‘I found that necklace you bought me.’ I wrote LOL but I wasn’t laughing at all. Put her on restricted list after that.

13. Waiting For The Night

Basically almost every night out I ever had in London.

14. Angry Hiss

Last track I wrote for the album, this. Felt like making a companion piece for New Pen. But it didn’t end up that way. I blame Keysound.

15. Island

Obvs, this is a story. I hadn’t written a short story in years, and I thought I’d do one, just so I could say I still can. I had a beginning, middle and end but for some reason it wasn’t working out like a wanted. I tried reading it out, then I sang the first line. Aha, that’s why it’s not working: it’s a song. Voila.

‘Islands’ is out now on Keysound. Buy it here. Meanwhile, Josh & LV will be taking ‘Islands’ on tour, find out more about where you can catch their show, here.