Label: Boy Better Know
Konnichiwa is easily Skepta's best body of work
Skepta has been enjoying a good run of form with previous singles "It Ain't Safe", "Shutdown" which took the North Londoner to the States and new single "Man" all highlighting his ability to make bangers. But although he's always had good songs, he hasn't always made good projects bar Black Listed which is the exception to this. So the Boy Better Know MC's much delayed new album, Konnichiwa, comes at an interesting time.
"Boy Better Know man went to the Brits on the train,
Man shutdown Wireless, then I walked home in the rain." - Skepta on "Konnichiwa"
At it's heart Konnichiwa is a Grime album and that is no more evident than the album's opener, title track "Konnichiwa." The production has a classic Skepta sound and the song features Skepta spraying bars with no chorus, as he would do on pirate radio sets or Grime raves.
"Lyrics" even uses the now infamous Heartless Crew v Pay As You Go clash sample and Skepta quotes one of Wiley's speeches during the clash for the chorus. The song features South London MC Novelist, who adopts a classic Grime flow that was used often in it's early days.
However, things slow down in the middle of the album with songs like "Ladies Hit Squad" - which has more of a mellower, Hip Hop feel to it. The song features ASAP mob's ASAP Nast on the hook alongside Grime legend D Double E. While it does add a change of mood on the album, it feels like Skepta is trying to reach for the American audience - which is a shame as it's great to see D Double E and Skepta on the same track.
Few people would turn down the chance to record a song with Pharrell Williams and it's a sign of how far he has come that Skepta was able to secure such an opportunity on the album. The Pharrell produced "Numbers" is an odd one; while the production sounds like an amalgamation of the two artist's sounds it's Pharrell who unsurprisingly sounds more comfortable with the subject (money) than Skepta on the song.
"That's Not Me"
The album does features quite a few interludes, not all of which feel necessary, but none are too long or take away from the enjoyment of the song before or after. The interludes include a phone call with fellow Grime artist Chip addressing the now infamous first bar of "Nasty", random singing by ASAP Nast and a clip from an online gaming session, one that any online gamer will be familiar with.
Konnichiwa is easily Skepta's most consistent and best body of work. Considering the high level of interest and pressure surrounding him, that is an impressive feat. It's been five year's since 2011's Doin' It Again and while that's a long time, I'd be prepared to wait the same length of time for a follow up if it's this good.