Amidst a period where grime and the culture are more visible to the masses than its ever been. Skepta takes a minute … Well several minutes (how long did he make us wait again?) to speak on both his own and the scenes growth. A nonconforming tale that took both around the world.
I always felt as though albums were supposed to be like a documentation of a time.Very rarely however is that the case in modern music .
Take it back to October 2014, the point where a visible shift took place. Did we at the time realise that it was the start of a very important period for the UK scene ? Not at all, but looking back on it the response BBK and guests would get every time they took the stage arguably warranted a win against some not too shabby competition in Stone Love, ASAP Mob and Rebel Sound: Chase&Status, David Rodigan and Shy FX.
18 months on when you consider where the grime scene derives from, it makes sense really. The desire to be better than the next MC that steps onto the MIC is what makes the tone and style so unique.
In years gone by many artists including Skepta himself were accused of making music that didn’t represent anything. Almost as though the music was being made with the intent of making waves in the mainstream or being applauded by our American counterparts.
Konnichiwa represents the change that has taken place , the shifts toward a authentic sound that reflects an actual journey. A movement that is a platform for “greatness” … no time to worry about anything else .
“I wasn’t happy with the music I was producing so I purposely took a risk to go back to square one and took a risk for people to say “oh Skepta fell off”
The most anticipated album in grime despite the scene historically being defined by singles and clashes. Four years building toward a project that embodies the incredible journey that the North Londoner has been on, in many ways the journey has warranted the delays.
From taking the “Mandem” on stage alongside Kanye West at the Brits Awards to free raves in a Shoreditch car park to becoming friends with the “6 God” Drake. The international interest once again poses the question of whether or not the Americans are ready to take in grime, but equally balanced by the question of “do we even care?”
Touring around the globe… Visibly has visibly affected the creative process, even more so visible in the album because of the introspective nature.
Konnichiwa is Skepta.
The escalation of interest on both a personal level and in the scene he pioneers, was met with distinct disinterest for the industries conventions. Konnichiwa again, illustrative of Skepta’s disdain for the order that governs popular culture and the “system” Ever thought about who the “they” is that the DJ Khaled speaks of ? The industry is just that according to Konnichiwa.
In a recent BBC Interview with Semtex, Skepta spoke on the fact the he is “looking for revenge”, revenge for what ? Revenge on who ? All summer 16 ?
You can feel the sense of revenge in the tone of rap: fitting that the first two singles released were “That’s Not Me” & “Shutdown”
“That’s Not Me”- Reflecting on the old Skepta . The Skepta who “used to wear LV” as opposed to today’s Track Suit mafia leader. Embracing where he has come from to get to this point – “see me I come from the roads”. A contrasting self assurance that doesn’t require anything but Skepta himself – “Take your girl no dinner, no rose”. An overriding sense of freedom and originality, met by a chorus of “you and me are not the same” .
“Shutdown” – “Me and my G’s ain’t scared of police , don’t listen to no politician . Everybody on the same mission, we don’t care about no isms and schisms” A statement of intent, the single that captivated everyone.Particularly because of the momentous events that took place at the Brits.
A criticism that had been leveled was the fact that we had 5 out of 12 singles prior to the actual release, for many they felt as though it had affected the way they felt about the album overall. Not an opinion I share but defo something I had to consider, bearing in mind there was similar talk ironically enough when Drake’s: Views dropped. I do understand the point but if I’m honest good music, is good music and Konnichiwa is most definitely good music.
A personal favourite is title track “Konnichiwa”. So Raw, So to the point, Skepta doesn’t mince his words. He speaks on the loss of Lukey’ as well as his unborn child, the catalyst for change – the idea that he separates himself from the scene.
It’s difficult to really pick a favourite considering all the songs are impactful sonically in their own individual way. Could reel off the entire track list in terms of productions and overall gas levels. Skepta himself producing 8 of the 12
Lyrically , although Skepta has never claimed to be a supreme lyricist or anything of the kind. Very much straight to the point, speaking on how people and things change as the fame continues the album is Skepta at his most honest as he discusses loss, women and remaining true to himself in an ever changing environment of fame.
Despite not musically sounding anything like The genre defining “Boy In The Corner” Dizzee Rascal, it is however of similar importance in terms of marking a period that will serve to change the genre for future generations. The chance for grime to penetrate the globe is now bigger than ever and to create albums that people can look to, to summarise the genre in a similar fashion to other genre’s globally.