When you christen your long-awaited album ‘Konnichiwa’, what one place in the world do you go to launch it? Why, Japan, of course – and that’s exactly where Skepta has ensconced himself a day ahead of the official release of his fourth studio album, setting up shop in the capital Tokyo for the grand, live-streamed reveal of his latest project. Grime has truly gone global.
This is of course the first full-length album from Skepta 2.0, referring to the new lease of life that the Tottenham MC has breathed into his career following a stolid third album, 2011’s ‘Doin’ It Again’. Since then, Skepta has jumped back into the picture with fire in his belly, setting his sights lyrically on many a target – the sharks of the music industry, grime’s posers and hangers-on, and even himself – with the bombastic likes of ‘That’s Not Me’ and last year’s defining ‘Shutdown’ firmly positioning the 33-year-old as grime’s leading international force in the process. It’s been quite the turnaround.
And now, with all eyes (and, more pertinently, ears) on ‘Konnichiwa’’s much-anticipated release, we found ourselves earlier today glued to a dimly-lit YouTube stream, provided by kings-of-the-sweaty-live-session Boiler Room, to get the first taste of the new album. Here’s what we learned about the “grime Kaiser” from the show.
The hyped collaboration with Pharrell is “bouncy”
Skepta introduced ‘Numbers’ with these words: “One of my favourite tracks [on the album] – Pharrell, my don. It’s gonna get bouncy up in here.” And it did – the Boiler Room attendees responded to the public debut of this track with great enthusiasm, especially when Pharrell’s verse kicked in (which, thankfully, harks back flow-wise to his N*E*R*D days rather than the recent ‘Girl’ project). “You never thought you’d see me with the crown”, smirks Skepta at one point – with this collaboration, he’s definitely ascended to the status of music royalty.
He spoke – briefly – about what the release of ‘Konnichiwa’ means to him
Among many shout-out to friends and members of his inner circle, Skepta did share some words on the kind of lyrical themes that the album will touch on. “Love, pain, death, birth – there’s bare emotion in that.” Get ready to shed a tear or three, then.
’That’s Not Me’ goes off in The Land of the Rising Sun
The much-celebrated missive opened Skepta’s session here, and, predictably, slayed. Other already-released tracks, like ‘It Ain’t Safe’ and most recent single ‘Man (Gang)’, also went off, while international grime anthem ‘Shutdown’ gained even more immortality with this rendition.
Skepta loves Japanese trap
Also featuring on the bill was Tokyo trap artist Kohh, who turned the crowd of seemingly too-cool-for-school onlookers into a writhing, confrontational moshpit. Skepta, dressed all in black, then turned up to spray the punters with champagne; a beaming look of approval etched on his face.
We should wait until the full album drops before we get too excited
Unlike this year’s already much-hyped album launches (the fashion madness of ‘The Life of Pablo’; the Beats-streamed ‘VIEWS’ premiere), we weren’t treated to an uninterrupted run-through of ‘Konnichiwa’ as Skepta opted to not show his hand in this most public of settings. Only the aforementioned Pharrell collab ‘Numbers’, the Wiley and Chip-featuring ‘Corn On The Curb’ (key lyric: “I don’t get VIP cos I’ve got very important places to be”) and ‘Detox’ – an ode to smoking weed that sees each member of Skepta’s Boy Better Know crew get on the mic – were aired here.
While we’d of course loved to have heard the whole thing, fans can be comforted by the knowledge that ‘Konnichiwa’’s official release is now just a matter of hours away. And as an appetiser, this vivacious live session went down a treat. Waiter! We’re ready for the main course now!