As if passing the baton, Mike Skinner’s retirement couldn’t be more timely. Peanut Butter Blues and Melancholy Jam by London via Coventry wordsmith Ghostpoet isn’t as ground-breaking as The Streets’ Original Pirate Material but it is every bit as much an era-defining record.
Opening with ‘Longing For The Night (Long Pause)’ Obaro Ejimiwethe complains of holes in his jumper and dreams of winning the lottery – the computer effect synthy sounds of the album version are replaced by singing guitar lines and the electronic beats are recreated by some jazzy drumming. Ejimiwethe’s lyrics match the observational commentary of Mike Skinner but his delivery is far more languid; more energetic than Tricky, though equally as lispy, and with the same weight or resonance of Roots Manuva.
‘Survive It’ is what you’d expect, a keep-your-head-down-and-get-on-with-it kind of story, not the strongest track from the album but Obaro injects soul into. He’s a commanding figure too, you can’t help but listen to the guy. He carries himself assuredly but devoid of arrogance, the opposite in fact, addressing the room with a genuinely inclusive manner and the warmth of everyday bloke, which of course he is.
Getting by on fuck all, surviving and regrets are running themes though it’s clear Ghostpoet has a good time a long the way. Radio-hit ‘Cash and Carry Me Home’ might be about addressing the ills and over-indulgence but try telling that to the crowd who are drinking up the murky anthem while making the same mistakes – a counter-effective anthem really. ‘Liines’ has warbled rap verses and a trashy sing-along chorus that spreads out across the floor and the defiant attitude of ‘Finished I Ain’t’ is celebrated by some psychedelic dancing.
Throughout the set Ghostpoet sings, raps and slurs. His vocal is naturally rhythmical, the structure of his lyrics being the poet part of the performance, and his knack for grimey street melodies means a lot more people will hear what he has to say.
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