I don't wanna be in your front room grieving/ Making tributes late in the evening/ I don't want to be having sleepless nights/ Big Vager, can't wait till I see him. Lyrics don't get more raw than K9's gruff flow on "Stress," a track he made about the death of his best friend, MC Vager. London producers Visionist and Dark0 provide a spacious and reflective sonic framework for the grime MC's grief. It's brief, but burns into the memory like hot coals through snow.
"The lyrics to this tune were written when I was grieving heavily a few years ago," K9 told The FADER. "I wanted to write one verse to just get some of those thoughts out my system. It's something I find hard to speak about—it's best done through my music." The video was directed by Jim Alexander, and features old footage of K9 and Vager on holiday in Gambia. "Jim wanted to get to know Vager as much as he could as a person," explains K9. "He borrowed VHS tapes, listened to his old sets on radio, even came to cool with him at the cemetery with me."
The power of "Stress" lies in its guts-and-all honesty, something that struck both producers hard. "Loss isn't often a topic covered in lyrical grime," Dark0 told The FADER. "I wanted to build something unique, but classic, [something] that complimented Nine's story. And Visionist was the one that had the sound that the track required." Visionist picks up the thread: "Within tragedy we sometimes find true beauty, and that's how I felt when I heard K9's vocal for 'Stress,'" he explains. "There's no hiding around the subject, and the fact it has no chorus, I think, makes it all the more distinguished. A poem by a true lyricist."