Skepta dropped his studio album Konnichiwa on Friday. After hours of pausing, playing and rewinding, I give an insight into what the album brought to the table and what I think of his 4th studio project.
The album begins with the self titled ‘Konnichiwa’ where Skepta wastes no time in reminding us why he is the microphone champion and that he’s back, leaner, stronger, smarter and more confident than ever. He bigs himself up for his performance at Wireless Festival and the infamous BBK link up at The Brit Awards in 2015 but quickly reminds us that with all the glory he’s not above being chauffeured by TFL.
We jump into ‘Corn On the Curb‘ where the gloves are on, or off, and the jabbing begins. “Gotta stay battling, gotta stay fighting, gotta stay striving…“, motivational words to get us amped! He tags in his label mate on this one who just happens to be the Godfather of Grime, Wiley! And as usual the big man let’s it be known that these two are not to be messed with. At the end we eaves drop on a call between Chip and Skepta where it seems the battling and striving has taken a toll on the MC. “Fam… this ting has got me brother, I’m not going to lie… mad pressures from every angle” says a tired a self reflective Skepta. Chip quickly flips this and reassures the BBK front man that he is carrying the torch for the scene and culture and he has the ‘powers’ to make it!
The mid section of the album keeps us ticking over with the hit releases Mr Adenuga kindly blessed us with over the last few months. With features from ASAP Mob’s Young Lord and ASAP Nast and my favourite and possibly verse of the year (in my opinion), its me, me, D Double E! However, amongst these bangers and top notch features, comes one that kind of took me by surprise. We would have thought the 6 God, Drizzy or even the world’s biggest rockstar, Yeezy would have blessed him with a feature but nah! The N.E.R.D front man Pharrell Williams shows up as a special guest on this one. The two get busy on an obvious Pharrell produced beat with Skateboard P appearing on the hook and giving us a cheeky verse on ‘Numbers’.
“Everyday man turn up to the max, don’t know how to relax. Went to the hills, trying to kick back, still I want to tweet and chat…” Clear signs of a man who rightly so needs a ‘Detox‘ from the life. Jumping in to also attone for their excessive lifestyle behaviours are the BBK family who stand strong with him on this one. We’re greeted with an expected jumpy verse from Shorty, followed by a tightly knit flow from Frisco and of course, the big man but hes not 30, Jammer, jumps on this skippy beat and delivers, in rounding off a good collaborative effort from the gang.
Now remember back to Corn on the Curb where we heard a vulnerable Skepta confide in fellow North Londoner Chip? Well we’re given another dose of the BBK front man wearing his heart on his sleeve on the closing track ‘Text Me back‘. The first verse talks us through his appreciation for a female interest but his constant toss up between living a normal life, feeding his hunger to make it and constantly being on the road has left him with the bad habit of not replying to her texts (tut tut). The catchy hook, which Skepta never fails to deliver on, reiterates his admiration for this girl “…I’ve been around the world and back, I ain’t met anybody I want to be with more than you…” A softer and calmer side we don’t always hear from him. The second verse, similar to the first, is another nod to not one but two other love interests in his life but not any love, the love a son shares with his mother and the love he has for his mandem. “Mum, man’s on the road. Text her a love heart, text her a rose. I gotta do these shows, cos I ain’t trying to see another tear run down your nose” spits a conscious Skepta trying to live out his dream for his family and “…not stopping till all the mandem are patterned“
Having sneakily listened to the album from start to finish for the entire day on Friday (sorry boss) and chopping it up with the mandem on WhatsApp for their opinions. I can say this body of music has been worth the hype and anticipation that came before it. With only Crime Riddem not quite to my fancy as i feel it is a lack luster effort and a bit of a filler track and the mid section of the album features tracks such as Shutdown, It Ain’t Safe and That’s Not Me, all tracks we’ve been playing for a few months now however I do feel Skeppy stays true to what he knows and what he does best. Tidy flows and witty punch lines keep our heads bopping and searching for our favourite tracksuit and baseball cap. With names such as Pharrell, ASAP Nast, Young Lord and little brother JME all lending their vocal powers to lift this album even higher, we are graced with productions from Ragz Originale, a fello North Londoner who holds his weight against some stiff competition on the project.
Skepta takes us through what it has been like to have been him in the last 6 to 12 months. From an unrivaled work ethic and still striving to be the best, despite over 10 years on the scene, to breaking down the layers we usually see and showing us that he also feels pressure from all aspects of his life.
I’m glad Skepta dropped this album. It has the internet buzzing, I am buzzing and most of us feeling good for what is to come from the big man.
Feel free to drop a comment about the album below and chop it up with The Mandem.