He may be emulating MJ on the album cover, but AJ Tracey makes his affinity for football clear in his new album, Flu Game.
West London rapper AJ Tracey marked his return last Friday with a new album called Flu Game. The project is heavily influenced by Michael Jordan as the title pays homage to His Airness’ game in the 1997 NBA Finals where he battled a stomach bug to scrap his way to 38 points and boost the Chicago Bulls to a crucial win over the Utah Jazz. Tracey positions himself as Jordan on the cover of Flu Game and has a whole song dedicated to Bulls forward Toni Kukoč, where he also shouts out legendary head coach Phil Jackson.
But this is a football website and you didn’t come here to read about basketball (even if Michael Jordan is one of the greatest athletes of all time). There are plenty of references to beautiful game on Flu Game, especially as Tracey is a big Tottenham Hotspur fan. The club showed its support for the young star with a banner celebrating the release of Flu Game hanging outside Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) April 16, 2021
Flu Game sees Tracey reflect on his journey as an artist coming out of the streets to achieve mainstream success. His first hit was 2016’s “Thiago Silva,” a collaboration with Dave that served as a tribute to the Brazilian superstar as both rappers are dripping in PSG gear for the video. From there, Tracey continued wowing listeners with his fierce delivery over the most expert drill beats, but he also showed some range on 2019’s garage-infused hit “Ladbroke Grove,” which was part of his debut album, AJ Tracey. His platform was also boosted with a placement on the Top Boy soundtrack curated by Drake.
Tracey’s been fairly quiet since then, pouring all of his energy into Flu Game, and the hard work was well worth it. The project is diverse and audacious, staying true to grime and drill while sprinkling in some R&B vibes and a return of that garage goodness. In fact, you could say his skills are as versatile as Bayern Munich stars David Alaba and Phillipp Lahm.
“Bringing It Back” feat. Digga D
“Bringing It Back” is a collaboration with drill star Digga D that made a lot of noise when it dropped in February. The song reflects on how far both rappers have come in just a few short years and nods to Digga D’s 2017 “Next Up Freestyle” as part of the group 1011 (now called CGM) and AJ Tracey’s 2016 “Packages” freestyle. On his track, Tracey gives a shoutout to Tottenham, claiming he’s “AJ from the Lane” while refusing to hear talk about rival club Arsenal.
“I locked up the food for the kids like Boris/And then I let it go like Rashford”
Among his braggadocious bars on “Bringing It Back,” Tracey draws a parallel to the controversy in the United Kingdom over giving kids free lunch in school. Prime Minister Boris Johnson raised eyebrows when he refused to extend free meals for schoolchildren during the holidays in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford led the charge against Johnson and used his platform to raise awareness of the need for the lunches. Now Tracey isn’t necessarily talking about lunch himself, as “food” is slang for, well, substances.
“I brought my winger back home like Spurs (Bale)”
Later in the darting song, Tracey pays more homage to Tottenham by shouting out winger Gareth Bale, who returned to the Spurs in September on loan from Real Madrid where he spent the previous seven seasons. Hopefully, Tracey’s wingman is having a better homecoming than the Welsh star.
“My lifestyle’s like a movie, but I can’t tell you ’bout actin’/My armband, I’m the captain”
On “Cheerleaders,” Tracey establishes himself as not just another role player, but that of a director or team captain. You can tell he’s in this position because he wears an arm band like the captain of a football team.
“My young G got his first star ever/And he jumped on the pitch like Xavi or Scholes/All they do is make pass and goals”
Later, he salutes his unnamed homie who is making moves. Tracey says that he got his first championship win in life, so he’s worthy of a star on his jersey. The yout is as prolific as Barcelona star Xavi Hernández or Manchester United legend Paul Scholes.
“Your squad def goal, look solid/Up front for the finish, got Kylian here”
Tracey also shouts out Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappé, who has skyrocketed to the top of the football world ever since he helped France win the 2018 World Cup at the tender age of 19. His career didn’t stop there as he’s had several landmark performances for PSG, including an astounding four goals in 13 minutes just a few months after that World Cup win.
“Jeans Inzaghi, car Bellarabi”
Flu Game is chock full of luxury rap and Tracey takes a moment here to weave in some solid football references to let haters know just how successful he is. Filippo Inzaghi aka Pippo is, of course an iconic Italian footballer, while Karim Bellarabi has held it down with Bundesliga’s Bayer 04 Leverkusen for the past decade, while also earning a handful of caps for the German national team. Inzaghi, Armani, Bellarabi, Audi. Same difference.
“Summertime Shootout” feat. T-Pain
“We ball like Damien Duff”
On the effortless “Summertime Shootout,” Tracey woos a lady, telling her he’s waiting outside for her in a Rolls Royce and can treat her to lots of nice things. He compares himself and his crew to Irish footballer Damien Duff, who built his career playing for both Chelsea and Newcastle. The midfielder had 54 goals in his Premier League days before becoming a coach for his home national team. The stint wasn’t long, but his legacy is already set as an Irish football great.
Oh, and T-Pain is on the track. Epic.
Stream AJ Tracey’s Flu Game on Apple Music, Spotify, and Tidal.