Grime has been the muse of the London Underground scene for the past decade or so and rapper/producer Skepta has played a heavy-role in the genre since his 2007 debut “Greatest Hits.” Through the combination of bouncy, dance-able beats and hardcore rap phrasing, Skepta both inspires bodily movement and demands respect on his new album “Konnichiwa.” Lyrically, Skepta maintains his badass swagger throughout, never doubting the strength of his talent. Lines like “Don’t know your songs but they know mine” from Shutdown and “Bury MCs six feet in the dirt” from lyrics increase Skepta’s impact as he disses and destroys his competition. Amongst Skepta’s ball busting burns, he leaves room for comic relief. On “Text Me Back” he humorously references both “The Lion King” and “Tinder” in reference to the strength of his love: “Our love’s strong like Mufasa and Simba/Never need to download Tinder.”
Besides the humorous confidence, “Konnichiwa” can be a bit monolithic. Skepta sticks to his dance-able, angry song form a bit too heavily and the emotional bars last for moments all too brief. For instance the end of “Ladies Hit Squad” seems to move into a more mellow, emotional area. After Skepta’s rant about his sex life, the song incorporates a phone call and a singing melody with the lyrics, “So Lonely I’ve been losing my mind slowly,” which breaks up the swagger of the first half of the album. Unfortunately, the song almost immediately ends and transitions into the banger, “Numbers.” It may have been nice to hear Skepta spill his emotional guts for a song or two there,
My first listen was enjoyable. The quick hitting nature of each song made for a head bobbing 40 minutes and I imagine that I will return to it quite often over the course of the next month, however, Skepta did not seem to drop any life-changing lines and perhaps the digestible nature of the production will wear off and expose the one dimensional nature of the lyricism.