As you can see, Skepta was overcome with emotion when it was announced, as his crew celebrated around him. He brought his parents up with him on stage. It was great to see a genuinely shocked, appreciative and humble winner.
Twisting what appears to be a sample of Skepta and JME’s ‘That’s Not Me’, ‘I’ve Always Liked Grime’ by the Australian producer Mall Grab sounds like one of those songs that unites many things: a love of grime, club soundsystem dynamics, lo-fi house, social commentary and a sense of humour in one.
That samples keeps rolling around that bassline for most of the song’s near seven-minute duration punctured by a rise and fall in arrangements but when a track is this deceptively simple it continues to hold your attention.
The gear change that happens when an artist shifts to the next level of their craft is cause for a celebration. When it arrives in conjunction with a spotlight on their genre, it’s one of fascination.
After 13 years, the North London MC Skepta has hit his stride and is bringing a focus and an interest to UK grime that many thought was long passed. In the past, Skepta has flirted with US rap through a remix with Diddy but fourth album Konnichiwa is the result of a belief in skill, the Boy Better Know collective, the culture and their independence.
The energy is what hits. This is Skepta’s album. Not only does his lyrical athleticism bring the energy flash, the production largely made by Skepta himself reaches a streamlined level of impact. ‘Lyrics’ which features grime protegée Novelist and pelts along on a warped vocal sample, chiptune synths and percussive claps is one of the most exciting tunes I’ve heard in ages.
That urgency is tangible. ‘Man’ which samples Queens Of Stone Age’s ‘Regular John’ is classic grime remade with learned experience. ‘Shutdown’ and ‘That’s Not Me’ (with Skepta’s brother JME) signalled Skepta’s renaissance and are still fervent highlights here.
“I used to wear Gucci but I put it all in the bin because that’s not me,” Skepta says and that embrace of being who you are to the end, is all over the album. That doesn’t mean Skepta doesn’t falter, as he despondently tells Chip over the phone at the end of ‘Corn On The Curb’. “I’m too black to be up there, you see what I’m saying, fam?” Chip’s pep talk in responses puts Konnichiwa into its current narrative. “Who’s seen the country flip on its head like this, fam?”
Kanye West may have shown support at the Brits last year, Drake may be cosigning Skepta to North American audiences but Konnichiwa wisely focuses on making a banging grime album while allowing Pharrell, Young Lord and ASAP Nast to add colour but not dominate. The album isn’t perfect, most obviously ‘Crime Riddim’ and ‘Ladies Hit Squad’ don’t quite land.
The overall impression is greater than the individual. Skepta is an independent artist resisting authorities, labels and cops are just two (“trying to get out The Matrix, away from the agents”), co-opting more well-known voices into his vision, hitting his confident peak and the added bonus of bringing grime to the next level too.
Follow the Nialler9 New Music playlist on Spotify. This week’s additions include new songs from Super Furry Animals, Skepta, Weval, De La Soul, James Blake and Jamie xx.
A serene new album highlight.
With much of A Moon Shaped Pool referencing the hurt and pain from Yorke’s disintegrated relationship of 23 years, there’s a lot of personal weight to the lyrics this time out. ‘Daydreaming’ has a resigned serenity to it that comes with acceptance. Whether Yorke is actually singing “half of my life” backwards is debatable but what’s clear through its sparse lyrics “This goes beyond me, beyond you,” is reinforced by the arrangement, an intimate song that grows from a rolling piano line to something much grander with tumultuous backward-aping strings and a lot of subtlety. The video, by Paul Thomas Anderson has Yorke in limbo before he finds a place to ignore it all.
Konnichiwa, the new album from grime king Skepta is the most exciting album in the genre that was nearly dead a few years ago. Skepta and Boy Better Know didn’t stop believing and now, they find themselves co-signed by Drake, lauded by Kanye and working with Pharrell. Thankfully, this isn’t a crossover attempt, Konnichiwa maintains its grimey British energy. ‘Lyrics’ which opens with a sample from a tetchy freestyle battle between Pay As U Go and Heartless crew has the album’s best beat with a video game synth, a warped vocal sample and walking bass line that is futuristic but also harks back to the what made dubstep so vital. Skepta’s forceful and paced delivery (“See me on the TV, hi mum”) and it all adds up to one of those songs you can’t stop repeating.
Ratking’s So It Goes was one of the best rap albums of last year and now, Wiki of the group has announced a free solo album out on Monday called lil me out via Letter Racer and featuring production by Madlib, Sporting Life, Kaytranada and Lee Bannon and guest turns from Micachu, Skepta and Antwon.
Listen to the lead track via the fun video for ‘Livin’ with My Moms’ with Nasty Nigel on the cut. It’s a song about succeeding in your rap career but still living at home at the end of the day.
Here’s another track:, produced by Black Milk
Wiki – Lil Me – Tracklisting
1. WikiFlag (pt. 1 prod. Madlib – pt. 2 prod. Sporting Life)
2. Living with My Moms ft. Nasty Nigel (prod. Black Noi$e)
3. Seedy Motherfucker (prod. Black Mack)
4. Hit the L ft. Hak (prod. Sporting Life)
5. Old Blocks New Kids ft. Jadasea (prod. Sporting Life)
6. Cherry Tree ft. Micachu (prod. Micachu & Sporting Life)
7. God Bless Me ft. Sporting Life & Skepta (prod. Skywlkr)
8. Club Shit (prod. DJ Lucas)
9. Lil Me (prod. Sporting Life)
10. 3 Stories (prod. Kaytranada)
11. Whole Half ft. Antwon & Jesse James Solomon (prod. Yung Gutted)
12. Sunday School Dropout ft. Hak (prod. Harry Fraud)
13. Patience ft. Antwon (prod. Sporting Life)
14. Crib Tax (prod. Kaytranada)
15. Ioneedmuch ft. Teddy AF (prod. Sporting Life)
16. Sonatine ft. Slicky Boy (prod. Lee Bannon)
17 Sun Showers ft. Teddy AF (prod. Black Mack)