Rating: 7.5 / Format: CD / Label: Dirtee Stank

Well it took a while, but now it’s here. Generally Speaking – the first full-length album from D Double and Footsie – has been promised for over two years, and in typical fashion, now it’s out nobody’s actually talking about it. But Generally Speaking’s a very worthy album; far too good to allow to slip through the floorboards like it’s at risk of doing so.

The crux with most grime albums is that the spur of the moment intensity that defines the best pirate radio sessions – still the most thrilling, telling medium to experience the genre through – doesn’t translate to the CD format. In the case of Dirty Goodz’ Axiom and Dizzee Rascal’s Boy In Da Corner, probably grime’s best two CDs to date, they overcame this by packing every syllable with meaning – though Dizzee’s bitter, paranoid diary entries were far more effecting than Doogz’ focus on wordplay and micro-narratives. The vocals on Generally Speaking aren’t as memorable as either, but as far as translating radio bars to fully-grown songs and chucking in the odd slightly tenuous concept or conscious track goes (and this album’s ‘Heard You Been Smokin’ is far preferable to ‘Shape Shifter’ from Skepta’s last album), it’s efficient.

Efficient’s probably the word that best describes this album – there’s some genuinely inventive production turns, from the looped bong-hits on ‘Smokin’ to the muddy rave sirens and distorted vocals on ‘Head Get Mangled’, but even ‘Bell Dem Slags’, which is as close to alien as Generally Speaking gets, is comfortably more conventional than Wiley or Terror Danjah’s taut, cyborg productions. But Newham Generals have always been pretty efficient: Footsie’s grime’s ultimate straight man, and D Double’s MCing was always more about the understated threat to his casual weirdness than getting worked up. Generally Speaking’s no Boy In Da Corner – in fact, it’s not even close – but it finds the Newhams translating that personality effectively to the album format, and on the occasions where they step it up a notch (especially ‘Pepper’, which is the best thing here by miles) it’s close to devastating.

Tom Lea

Newham Generals myspace



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