Review: Skepta Pushes Grime Forward On “Konnichiwa”

Don’t dismiss Grime as a subgenre of hip-hop or just British rap.

Even though it does take some influence from Hip-Hop, it is a genre in its own right. If you are new to the genre (or just wish to learn more about it) you can read up on it here. Now on to the review.

Receiving a shout out from Kanye West and becoming friends with Drake has made Skepta a sort of ambassador for Grime in America. However, he has been putting work in for a while now. Since the early 2000s, Skepta has been making moves and rising to the top of the Grime scene with his crew Boy Better Know (BBK).

The last major project we saw from him was “Blacklisted” back in 2012. Two years later, he released his hit single “That’s Not Me” featuring his brother JME, also a member of BBK. Since then, fans both old and new have been waiting  for this record, with a few singles here and there to quench the thirst. As if the pressure from fans wasn’t enough, Skepta’s relationship with the U.S. makes “Konnichiwa” the top contender to help Grime move further into the mainstream.

Opening the record is the title track, in which Skepta gives us a taste of what we’re gonna get this time around. He raps about his come up, what he’s been up to recently, and about the untimely death of young emcee Lukey, who passed away in June of last year, all the while showing us the kind of emcee we’re dealing with: an aggressive yet calculating man, who isn’t afraid to be both sentimental and political, with references to Guy Fawkes night and his disapproval of the Prime Minister, David Cameron.

Following this, we get the track “Lyrics”, a track which delivers exactly what the title suggests. Skepta and newcomer, Novelist, rapidly flow at Grime’s enigmatic fast pace throughout the song. This energy is maintained across the album’s runtime while still offering different kinds of songs.

On “Crime Riddim” we get a great classic Grime flavored track where Skepta tells us of a night in the club gone wrong. He knows he’ll spend the night in jail if he starts a fight, but some guy is being so annoying that he just has to punch him in the face and ends up getting arrested. A few tracks later we get the standout banger “Man” where we get him rapping loyalty to his crew, BBK. This tracks also features a great display of Skepta’s sense of humor with the line “Dressed like I come from P.E./ You’re dressed like you just come from church.”

The only real gripe with the record is that 5 of the 12 tracks were previously released singles, which minimizes the amount of new content we get from the album. However, looking past that, it’s undeniable that this is a great collection of energetic, varied bangers.

Even the most emotional song in the album, “Text Me Back”, has a pace to it. This track finds Skepta talking about how fame has separated him from the two most important women in his life, his mom and his girlfriend, in a more original take on the “fame makes my life hard” subject.

Overall, Skepta has given an extremely enjoyable, well-written album that definitely  deserves a listen from front to back. He manages to incorporates classic grime artist such as Wiley and young emcees like Novelist along with mostly successful collaborations with American talent into a cohesive, masterful, and concise Grime record.

Grade: A

Similar Sounds: Wiley, Stormzy, Novelist

Highlights: “Man”, “Lyrics”, “Crime Riddim”, “Text Me Back”

Lowlights: “Ladies Hit Squad”

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Jose Alberto Orive

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