HAVING dropped one of Scotland’s rap albums of the year, Drew ‘Werd’ Devine is rightfully quite pleased with himself. The Edinburgh emcee may have received minimal coverage outside Scotland’s hip hop bubble thus far, but his new record Alien is a conceptual triumph nonetheless.

Presenting his own unique blend of black comedy and social commentary, Werd is one of Scotland’s more outspoken hip hop artists. Representing “Auld Reekie”, a city historically even less associated with the urban genre than neighbouring Glasgow, the emcee has willingly embraced the role of an outsider since he first emerged on the scene nearly a decade ago.

“I suppose I do feel like an alien in some ways,” he explains in reference to the album’s title. “The album’s not related to sci-fi in any way, it’s about alienation in a mental sense. I feel like everyone feels more alienated as they get older. It’s not paranoia, we’re all in the same boat and nobody’s normal.

“I really try to communicate that on the album. The production all came first and I didn’t trim or cut any beats whatsoever. I wrote the album fast, following the intricacies of the tracks.”

Alien sees the Leith artist on murkier terrain than ever before, whilst still communicating sporadic messages of hope. His gravelly voice and intense persona are complimented by ominous bass-heavy production provided by the likes of BiggTaj, Dixie, Konchis and Righteous Fist.

Somewhat ironically, though Werd lyrically deals with isolation and disaffection, his introspective approach follows a general pattern in the scene over the past year or so.

From Loki’s biting satire on last year’s Government Issue Music Protest to Mog’s haunting Nomad’s Land LP, Scottish rap has become characterised less by bravado and more by self-effacing poetry and experimental production.

“Hip hop in Scotland is in a completely different place to where it was 10 years ago,” says Werd. “What was cliquey and niche is now more open and artistic.

“When I first started making rap music with my friendDeeko I thought we were the only ones doing it. It was only after we logged onto an internet rap forum around 2006 that we really realised.”

The 28-year-old attributes last year’s independence referendum as a blooming point for the scene as a whole, citing the creative confidence evident in many rappers’ output. Werd makes political points at various points on the album, as well as addressing a new found attachment to his home city on the single Salt N’ Sauce.

“I think the referendum changed a lot of perceptions about how to make rap music about Edinburgh or Scotland as a whole,” he says. “It became less about bitter struggle and more about pride in our artistry.

“It might sound controversial but from a creative’s perspective, the No vote was a good thing because it provided so much motivation and ammunition. As rappers, we’ve not stopped shouting. Creative people haven’t got back in their box.”

Alien is out now on Sons of Scotland (S.O.S.) Records and is available on iTunes and Spotify.