Skepta’s fourth full length LP, Konnichiwa is the first grime album I’ve seen that has taken notice outside of the U.K. Grime has been on a roll lately, the term becoming known throughout hip-hop worldwide now. Skepta’s newest album is a fine piece of it, though it also shows that it has room to grow.
Kicking off with the album title track ’Konnichiwa’, the album begins with an almost stereotypical Japanese scene that actually makes sense in the context of the song - the readying of swords is akin to the sharp verses of the record. The song itself actually bashes stereotypes, even further accentuating the theme of the song. The album itself seems to be a big metaphor for the prejudice of the genre and the struggles within an artist, the pressures of which are seen in the skit at the end of ‘Corn On The Curb’. The instrumentals and moods of the record demand your attention, especially in tracks with grand instrumentals and strong assertions like ‘Shutdown’ and ‘Man (Gang)’. There are little colors splashed in the instrumentals too, like the demanding brasses in the background and the rough orchestras found in ‘It Ain’t Safe’.
Unfortunately, there are not many praises left for the record. The problem with this record, and grime in general, is that at some point, everything starts sounding the same. The beats becoming predictable and uninteresting by the time the second half of the album rolls around, the end of the album being good but bland. The guest spots on this album don’t really add anything, except for JME on ‘That’s Not Me’, which is actually pretty refreshing, since the rest of the either sound awkward (Pharrell on ‘Numbers’, for example) or the guests sound the same as everyone else on the track. And I just have to call this out: ‘Lyrics’ uses that obnoxious goddamn airhorn sample that successfully ruins the entire song. That is no longer a hype thing. It’s just dead.
Skepta’s newest album is a good representation of grime, which is good considering the album’s popularity. This may just be one of the world’s first big exposures to grime, and honestly, it’ll be hit or miss from this starting point. We’ll have to wait and see who follows suit to ride the rising wave of grime popularity this year. For what it’s worth, Skepta got it off to a good start.
Favorite Tracks: Man (Gang), Konnichiwa
Least Favorite Tracks: Detox, Ladies Hit Squad, Lyrics