It’s been hard to miss Skepta’s latest album this year, even if hip hop isn’t your thing. The independent rapper has lead the long-overdue acceptance of grime as one of UK music’s most influential movements, and was also the surprise winner of the 2016 Mercury Prize.
Skepta’s Konnichiwa is a stonker that puts you in the mood to skank and flex like there’s no tomorrow.
What really make this album special is Skepta’s unfathomable ability to twist familiar sights and sayings in his verses, giving them that memorable quality. This comes through on the rebellious ‘Corn on the Curb (feat. Wiley & Chip)’, the reflective ‘Text Me Be’, and the Drake-esque ‘Ladies Hit Squad (feat. D Double E & ASAP Nast)’.
The Pharrell Williams-produced ‘Numbers’ – one of a handful of co-produced tracks, the rest are all self-produced by Skepta – feels a tad lost here, and the inclusion of a skit mimicking the childish aggression of players during most online games sours this record a touch.
But even this issue can’t take away from possibly the greatest holy trinity of tracks this year: ‘Man’, ‘Shutdown’ and ‘That’s Not Me (feat. Jme)’. These tracks come with lyrical fire and grimy, invigorating beats that are impossible to deny. As a beatmaker and wordsmith, Skepta has affirmed his place at the top table. Konnichiwa is a masterpiece.
Konnichiwa is out now on Boy Better Know.
Have you listened to this album? If so, what did you think of it? Tweet me @aarnlee.
Image: Boy Better Know/PR