Label: Self Released
Pressing: Digital only, via Bandcamp
Despite currently preparing to head into Europe for March & April, Grime kingpin Skepta has managed to find the time to unleash his ‘new’ album ‘Konnichiwa’ via Bandcamp. With the latest wave of Grime truly going global, it is perhaps understandably quite a mainstream baiting, accessible piece of work; It catches everyone up by compiling some tracks from the past couple of years as well as dropping a few new cuts. He still has an expertly effortless control of his bars, flowing very smoothly over his beats. The production is extremely clean, there is definite depth and sub to the bass sections, but personally speaking I would prefer some actual grime to the production, instead of the crystal clear beats that compile this album. There is still a mixtape quality to the album though, ‘Top Boy’ has some studio chatter in the background, the dancehall/grime crossover track ‘My Empire’ has a radio presenter talking toward the end, and the Chipmunk diss track ‘Nasty’ is presented almost as an interlude, keeping its original brief run-time of a couple of minutes, rather than elaborating on the piece for this album drop.
There is some absolute fire on here, album opener ‘Konnichiwa’ featuring Bashy & Kano is an extremely cocksure Grime/Trap crossover, and sets a great precedent for the album. A couple of tracks later ‘That’s Not Me’ featuring JME is also a fantastic and truly Grime orientated heater, however sandwiched amongst these two are latest single ‘Ladies Hit Squad’ and ‘Ojuelegba’. These are clear nods at trying to break a mainstream, world wide audience, and while they will/have probably succeed/ed in their task, personally speaking they are the weakest tracks on here, and don’t have a Grime feel to them at all. After the guest spots and experiments are out of the way, the latter half of the album settles into a more sparse, head nodding Grime affair. 2015’s mighty ‘Shutdown’ features, and then the final two tracks are fantastic, ‘Back Then’ uses a violin sample string loop, some wobbly, sub rattling bass and some of the hardest hitting bars on the whole project. ‘Lukey World’ ends the playlist with a slightly dark twist, some warped and chopped vocal samples team up with some clapped snares and hi hats to lay a sinister backdrop for Skepta to weave some personal and cathartic verses.
All in all, this is a clever album drop - it will undoubtedly attract a new, global fan base for the MC, allowing the late-comers to catch up with some of his finer cuts. All the while Skepta still manages to genuinely retain his Grime sensibilities and credibility. ‘Konnichiwa’ is available to buy digitally HERE