A new era in British grime and rap has been ushered in and the world is finally taking note. In an age where music is churned out as quickly as it's consumed, the lengths and patience UK acts have gone to, to ensure their respective bodies of work are impeccable has not gone unnoticed. Eight years since his debut album, Walk In Da Park—and three since his previous When Will It Stop—Giggs returns with the cataclysmic Landlord LP. In 2008, he tore up the blueprint completely and rewrote the rules on what UK rap should sound like, and few albums before perfectly captured the essence of the hood like Walk In Da Park did. But Giggs' unabashed approach to portraying street life garnered a mixed response: rap fans admired his new angle, but it brought about a sustained attempt at stifling and silencing his necessary voice.
The police saw, and still see, his brand of rap as encouraging a lifestyle which breeds violence. To those most affected by his content, Giggs is merely a town crier for a life many don't care to understand. And this has become integral to his art: Giggs doesn't attempt to appease his audience; you either understand his story or you don't. The MC has remained solid in his resolve though, and after a number of canceled shows (in the name of Form 696), serious credit must be given.
It's difficult capturing the spark that ignited your career, and Giggs may never be able to recapture the initial excitement and euphoria that Walk In Da Park brought—but he's given it a damn good shot with his latest. Landlord is a stripped back, 14-track affair with a focus on minimal sounds that amplify the rapper's distinct yet hazy lyricism. Although less cohesive than his debut LP, Giggs has gone back to basics and focused on delivering a potent message. Landlord is certainly a more cohesive effort than its predecessors, more so than Let 'Em Have It and When Will It Stop.
But it's no coincidence: rappers are understanding that all eyes are on them and in order for this renaissance to continue, a conscious effort when putting a body of work together must be made. It's evident—with seamless mixing—that Giggs understands the value in this. The heavy use of 808s throughout the album is a deliberate attempt at capturing the initial essence of Walk In Da Park, which he's used to solidify and truly carve out his own space in the British rap scene. Particularly on the track "Savage", the rapper returns to the haunting, climatic trap sound he's been known for since his debut.
Giggs doesn't attempt to appease his audience—YOU either understand his story or you don't.
Giggs is more than aware of commercial appeal and the need to make a hit that can draw in different audiences. "The Blow Back", featuring grime star Stormzy and rapper Dubz, sets the agenda with crystal-clear precision. It appears made for both Giggs and Stormzy, whilst Dubz signs out with his typically nonchalant flow. The production on "Lock Doh" almost sounds like it could work in a deep house rave, if sped up, with Giggs and Donae'O directing their bouncy rhymes at the ladies (Hannah, Emily, Beverly...). "Whippin Excursion", meanwhile, not only delivers a more contemporary trap sound, it also brings to mind comparisons with Future's approach to trap. But rather than following a similar template, Giggs imparts his own signature flow which is a stark contrast to Future's melodic stylings.
Much can be said about grime artists who have reached their pinnacle, whose lyrics still pertain to a life they no longer live. Kano adopted a more retrospective angle on Made In The Manor, reflecting on his upbringing as well as the influence East London has had on his artistry. On Konnichiwa, Skepta explored themes that focused on handling newfound success as grime's first superstar.
Each of those artists went through periods of experimentation that didn't always attract positive reception. For Hollowman however, it's slightly different—he never veered away from his core subject matters, and has maintained a really strong hood/rap identity. And whilst Giggs has cemented his place in black British music's hall of fame with Walk In Da Park, Landlord is a bold reaffirmation of the South Londoner's necessary presence. He's known as "the king of UK rap" for a reason.