Skepta: Ignorance is Bliss (Album Review)

2016 since Konnichiwa his last effort which raised the bar stylistically and slammed down Big Smokes authenticity. Skepta reminds us of his staggering self-belief and craft with his new album Ignorance is Bliss. Uk rap has never been so powerful and this man is coming for the throne.

Bullet From A Gun is a sombre incarnation as its refectory in rhythm as Skepta chooses a moody minimalistic backdrop that invokes nostalgia. He shows growth as we find him in deep philosophical meditation as he explores love, spirituality and focus.

We go up a notch on Greaze Mode as it finds him throwing his considerable weight around over an energetic bass laden number. ”if I aint the headline I must be the special guest / I pull up and steal the show and I aint even trying to flex.” Nafe Smalls lends his unique intonations to give this a rounded and atmospheric feel.

When Redrum kicks in you know Big Smoke is not for jokes. This will be movement track as it brims with fire in the belly and captures the very essence of the man. The production is menacingly upbeat and swings from the hip like Tyson in his prime. Lyrically he’s snappy and concise as he nails every line with the passion of a newcomer. He brilliantly gives us a snap shot of life in the hood to all good in under 4 minutes.

No Sleep finds Skepta breaking down the rules to survive over a playful grime beat. He articulates the here today gone tomorrow nature of the business.

J Hus has been is sizzling form this summer and delivers a smooth yet creative hook as he references Idi Amin & Kim Jong-un cleverly on What Do Mean? They work well in tandem over a chilled out head nodding production. Skepta fires off bars nevertheless “As soon as I wake up I’m chasing my dreams / all we do is win and I ain’t changing the teams.”

The erratic dream like production of Going Through It works as a metaphor for the music industries manic inner workings. It also allows Skepta to voice his blues as he notes how being to real can be used as weapon against you. It’s a complex track that helps to give you an insight into the soul of the man.

It’s relationship turmoil that Big smoke chops up in Same Ole Story. Over a classic grime rhythm think early inception of the culture. The story telling of the carnage and woe that love causes is easily relatable.

think Love Me Not will ring out over the summer months. With its throwback UK garage vibe and Sophie Ellis Bexter sample. B Live drops some playful bars but it’s Skepta that dominates this one though with his confident delivery as he spits “she told me she loves me, I was like when / treated me like a side man back then.” This nostalgic number with have the ole school ravers stepping with that late 90’s swag.

Shit gets serious again on Animal Instinct as Big Smoke spits that real shit “I got nothing to prove, they wanna see me lose / I’m in Paris with the goons, I should take a selfie and hang it in the Louvre.” The production is dark and mystical and you can feel how much in the zone he is over this beat. Lancey Faux chips in with some thought provoking lines to add to this ride out track.

The tone switch is upbeat in Glow In The Dark as Skepta high lights how he’s been able to stand out and remain prominent after all this time. The production is defiant and soulfully uplifting. He shows his awareness of his star presence as he references his contribution socially by being a shining light in disadvantaged communities and beyond. Features from Lay-Z & Wizzkid are minimal but quintessentially add to the mix.

Firing shots at each and all those who have spoke his name negatively (Wiley recently). In Animal Instinct Skepta, jovially jesters at naysayers ridiculing their level artistically. Over a classic battle grime rhythm complete with war horns Big Smoke talks that grease with ease. The hook just mashes as he spits “Said you got beef with you wish, if I ever said I had time for the arms, must have been talking about the watch on the wrist.”

Gangsta is pure grease as Boy Better Know step in to strong arm the game with this one. Over a dark energetic creeper of a beat the team do their version of seek & destroy lyrically. Loads of quotable lines but JME kills it’s when he fires off bars obliterating fake gangsters.

The closing track is Pure Water is a strange one as it’s not your typical closer. Actually it’s the weakest song on the album and feels like a track that was placed on the album without much thought to the overall flow of the album. It’s not a terrible track it just doesn’t fit into the overall narrative well. Skepta makes it abundantly clear that he’s in the top 5 conversation with his pure force and consistency of his delivery. A listen right through piece. Two thumbs up!!S

Ignorance is Bliss:Release date: 31 May


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photographer_Juan Carlos Ariano
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