The man at forefront of the current UK grime scene, Skepta has taken his time to release this album. His last project, Blacklisted, opened up new avenues of fame for the emcee and in the four years since its release, he has been honing his craft for a newer, larger audience. The result of this hard work is Konnichiwa. It is a personal and furious project. One that expresses his doubts and fears, but that also revels in his recent success and beams with confidence at times.
Although his ability to deliver a ferocious track was never in question, you’d think it was. Almost every track sends adrenalin coursing through your veins. This usually can be traced back to the bass heavy production, which can be chaotic, but is always masterfully structured to coincide with each line and verse delivered by Skepta.
His phone call with Chip at the end of ‘Corn on the Curb’ shows him at his most vulnerable. He addresses his fears, but Chip’s voice on the other end of the phone reassures a doubtful Skepta that he is the one with the ability to expose his lifestyle and culture in the U.K to a huge audience. While he might not sound that convinced by the end, this is a great example of the importance of his peers and crew members in his career. When doubts come rushing in, the people behind him are always willing to back him up and assure him that he is where he is meant to be.
For an album that can be very abrasive at times, Konnichiwa isn’t short of material to grant it radio play. Aside from the massive single ‘Shut Down’, ‘Ladies Hit Squad’ and ‘Numbers’, featuring Pharrell Williams, both have tons of commercial appeal. The former may sound out of place at first, with A$AP Nast’s hook delivered like a crude Drake impression. However, it is tracks like this that widen Skepta’s appeal and not only are they necessary, they do fit in with the overall tone of Konnichiwa.
While he may have gotten some help from artists overseas to contribute to the project, there is no denying this is a quintessential U.K album, regardless of genre. It details the strives of coming from a disadvantaged area, rife with crime and drugs, but knows that it could not exist without it. It is an enthralling venture into a side of life that a lot of people cannot get a glimpse of, or don’t want to in some cases. This album gives no other option but to listen to these stories and immerse yourself in the world that made Skepta who he is today – an uncompromising, one of a kind emcee that has huge pressures resting on his shoulders but will not fold under them.