Skepta – Konnichiwa
Konnichiwa is the long awaited album of Skepta- but the question is, was it worth the wait? It has been 5 years since his previous album and his growth has definitely shown. Most of the production along with writer is purely Skepta’s, compared to his last album. Furthermore, his lyrical content has grown, with more topics discussed such as his partner’s miscarriage and the death of his friend Luke. However, the fact of whether it was a good or mediocre album has been a contentious question for me, requiring endless replays of the album to make up my mind.
The album opens up with ‘Konnichiwa’ with Fifi Wrong on vocals. The track is well placed as the beginning of the album as it serves as an excellent introduction to Skepta. He hasn’t made an album in the past 5 years which begged the question – Where the hell is Skepta? and his response is “Looking for me? Konnichiwa”. That alone signifies his success, Skepta has made transatlantic success opening doors to foreign countries and thus languages. Yet the song has meanings deeper than that; Skepta states clearly that he has been purposely keeping to himself, to see him is dependent if he tells you where he is. This is a new turn for the Skepta I know; before he was very happy to share the destinations he had gone to and the girls he could easily ‘link’. Yet, this time, he keeping away from “the devil in the red dress” as well as the ‘paigons’. Now Paigons are a given but the red dress lyric is interesting; in the song ‘Can you hear me’ with Wiley and his brother JME, he raps “Looking at the hot girl with the red dress on”. Now the person wearing a red dress is the devil he avoids. Skepta’s growth is clear as day. He got caught up in the glitz and glamour of fame, saw his error, and is on another path and he is letting you know at the start of the album. A provoking beginning to his long-time fans.
We move to ‘Lyrics’ featuring Novelist, which is the best duo on this album. Novelist, another growing name in grime, has a flow that is reminiscent of Skepta, he is distinct in his sound but the fury and bluntness echo’s Skepta. In this track they are both blunt as ever, “Lyrics for Lyrics” is the baseline. No need for unnecessary ‘beefs’ or diss tracks, show your skill and their show theirs and a winner is decided, and the winner will undoubtingly be Skepta.
Skepta’s anger builds into his next song as he moves from lyrically murdering to just murdering. ‘Corn on the curb’ is a reminder of Skepta’s lethal nature; not known for his ‘beefs’ online, Skepta reinstates that he instead walks the walk and if you do want to challenge him corn (that I am assuming are bullets) will be found on the sidewalk.
The album is good so far until we get to ‘Crime riddim’; the production isn’t by Skepta and it shows when he raps. It is as if he is battling with the sound effects over the incredibly loud beat; the production isn’t as sophisticated as his own and this marks the beginning of some of the disjointness felt across his album. This continues with ‘It ain’t safe’; the song itself is one of my favourites but it is old, about over 2 years at the least. The lyrics don’t show the growth compared to first 3 tracks creating confusion and making Skepta seem a little indecisive- are you out or in of this so-called matrix?
This disjoint-ness lingers for the next 2 tracks. First ‘Ladies hit Squad’, the beat is trap which is definitely not grime. That alone ruins the character of the album as it was purely grime which was refreshing and then we suddenly get trap. Furthermore, Skepta’s lyric superiority sticks out like a sore thumb compared to others on the track, making the listening uneasy. Then we have ‘Numbers’ produced by Pharell Williams; the track is good but again doesn’t match the tone of the album and should have been left as a single release.
We then arrive at ‘MAN’ the inciting single release ahead of the album and Skepta’s tenacity for his craft is discernible. But again the order afterwards confusing and slightly frustrating. ‘Shutdown’ and ‘That’s not me’ are next. The most frustrating is the latter, the lyrics compared to the rest of the album are basic. What Skepta says- which is he has moved on from getting caught in the fame- is better explained in Konnichiwa, so it’s hard to see the reason behind its addition on this album.
The last 2 tracks are ‘Detox’ and ‘Text me back’; ‘Detox’ is a track which indicates Skepta possible future problems- his inability to unwind and relax. The continuous hard work as paid off with his success but he has picked up a habit which means he is always on the go. He states he started smoking weed at age 14 and since has been trying to get the same buzz from his first time for years. He then states that has been trying to give up smoking but before he knows it, he has gone a bought another pack. These habits are his way of destressing but honestly it will never be enough, so the question remains- when will Skepta be satisfied? Or worse, Will he ever be satisfied? The album ends with ‘Text me back’ which I felt was a weak ending. The track follows the narrative that the course of his schedule is too busy to text back his (I’m assuming here) girlfriend.
Overall Skepta’s album had its standouts but overall it was honestly mediocre; the old tracks and ordering brought it down. Had more thought been given to material put in and order his journey would have been better articulated. It seems that Konnichiwa , was his warm up to his re entry to the forefront.