Rating: 3.5 / Format: CD / Label: Boy Better Know

You know, you start to listen to Skepta’s second album and you wonder why people have slagged it off so much – because it isn’t as bad as people make out.

Obviously the man who once revolutionised grime as both a producer and MC is never going to make a full-length LP with the same fire; the same combination of sly wit and dead-eyed ferocity that he used to bring to Roll Deep’s radio sets those first two years he was in the crew. It’s just one of those things that would never happen, and let’s face it, we all knew that at the time. But as far as Skepta making an album that pleases both the fans of his from those days and his pop target market – you know, the one that actually pays his bills – goes, Microphone Champion starts off alright.

And I do mean alright. ‘Are You Ready’ and ‘Too Many Man’ are great, but Giggs’ appearance on ‘Look Out’ feels phoned in, and like it’s only done to get a bit of crossover appeal to the road-rap market. The chorus of ‘Sticks and Stones’ is lame, but not enough to detract from the verses and production; overall the album’s start is better than what you’d expect from Skepta at this point. But after six or so tracks Microphone Champion starts to go downhill.

‘Lush’ and ‘My Emotions’ are such weak inclusions, especially when Skepta’s proved he can do genuinely touching songs better than almost anyone in grime (‘Sweet Mother’, ‘Cold Turkey’). ‘Ed Hardy Party”s embarrassing; it’s one thing when you alter your rave bars because you’re on the take from a rubbish clothing company, it’s another when you compromise an album for it. ‘Over the Top’ wasn’t up to much when it surfaced as a youtube video, God knows why it’s on here over ‘Nokia Charger Wire’. There’s a vocal of Kool Herc’s ‘Let Me Clear My Throat’ that sounds as tired as you’d expect, and even with hard production ‘Gingerbread Man’ and ‘Madness’ sound half-arsed and tacked-on to keep up a decent grime to pop ratio. Before you know it, it’s the ‘Sunglasses at Night’ cover. And then ‘Rolex Sweep’. And then it’s over. Cheers Skepta. That was bad after all.

Chris Campbell

Skepta myspace



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