It’s come a little later than planned, slightly missing the wave of last year’s grime renaissance, but Skepta’s Konnichiwa has finally dropped. And it’s probably the first real successful mainstream album to display grime’s true roots.
The very nature of Grime is subversive and raw. It’s best experienced live, in a dark space, through bassy speakers – an MC almost losing himself in an energetic performance. The crowd spitting every bar and throwing trigger fingers at the stage. This has been both the reason for its underground success, and why it had never previously flourished as a mainstream genre.
But Skepta’s reinvented himself as an artist. He’s consistently delivering what the youth want. And he’s distanced himself from his awful last record Doin It Again, slowly building towards a hood icon, claiming both fashion and roadman activity. He has collaborated with well-known U.S artists and all the while marketing his image brilliantly.
‘LOST MONEY THIS SUMMER
SO YOU KNOW I’VE GOTTA GRIND IN THE WINTER’
In the two years since the impeccable That’s Not Me dropped, we’ve been gifted with gems such as Shutdown, It Ain’t Safe and Ladies Hit Squad. Unfortunately, these overplayed singles appear on the album, stretching the record to only forty-four minutes. The new material is impressive, though, with some real grime tunes littered about the album. Lyrics and Crime Riddim are a nostalgic return to the grime of the early noughties. The former includes a notable guest verse from Novelist.
Other featured artists include BBK (gang), Wiley and (briefly) Chip, and the big one everyone’s excited about, Pharrell. The album’s unexpected and outstanding track Numbers features Skateboard P himself. And it’s very Skateboard P. Whilst Skepta spits in Midas-touch form
‘Just picked up a new pack of the loud
Smell that, wow.
Me and P fuckin up another sound
This one shouldn’t be allowed’
Pharrell brings a very Skateboard P-esque touch to the track’s sound, credited as producer, as well as delivering a hook and verse.
‘Quit talkin numbers…
My accountant countin my cabbage
Also countin my carrots
Vegetarian habits since BBC was established
Richard Mille’s a classic, sapphires not plastic
Like magnifying glasses,
when the light hit it, nigga’s ashes…
Quit talkin numbers…’
Two other highlights on Konnichiwa are the latest single Man (gang), which provides another example of Skepta’s ability to make popular music with old-school grime bars on the hook, and the BBK effort Detox. Sitting as the penultimate track on the album, Detox is everything that grime embraces – big punchlines, infinite energy and sixteen-bar verses from some of the heavyweights in the genre.
Most production credits belong to Skepta, with minor credits going to the lesser known producer Ragz Orignale (check him out he’s doing some cool shit), who producers the album’s opener Konnichiwa. The track plays out for fifty seconds before Skepta goes no-hook-ham for the final two minutes. Ragz Originale also produces the album’s closer Text Me Back, which dabbles a little more in to the emotive side to the grime sound Skepta has pledged to. It pushes the narrative momentarily away from the moving bricks and fuck the feds material that seems to be the go-to for our reinvented gangster.
Skeppy, thanks for keeping it very real. Could have done with a little more new material and a longer run-length. Could have been a little more diverse on the subject matter. But this is a successful grime album, which come few and far between.