With his gruff accent and unique flow, which sounds like someone calmly but aggressively reading off a shopping list, Giggs has solidified himself as one of UK’s rap’s most original personas. More like an eccentric character you’d find down a south London boozer than your typical grime star, Giggs sounds like nobody else on the UK scene.
Now he’s friends with Drake and an artist known on both sides of the Atlantic, there’s perhaps been a fear Giggs’ fifth studio album ‘Big Bad’ might tamper with the 35-year-old’s individualistic style and re-jig the formula in order to reach a wider audience. But thankfully Giggs maintains his singular vision and doesn’t set out to try to please everybody — a trap that catches out so many of his UK peers. From start to finish, this is the Giggs we know and love.
‘Great Collective’ is his superhero theme music, as he taunts his enemies (“Used to laugh at me, now dude’s a punter,” he boasts) to a menacing beat. This sinister atmosphere persists with the brilliant ‘Mic Check’, which takes what sounds like the synth music from a 16-bit video game such as Streets of Rage and makes it convincingly gangster. The fact Giggs holds his own with a lyricist of the calibre of US rap veteran Jadakiss also indicates just how far he has grown as a rapper. Just when things get too dark, Giggs is capable of switching things up, too, with tracks such as ‘Baby’ and ‘Terminator’ (which features a mischievous Swizz Beats verse) providing a much-needed burst of energy.
What’s most impressive about Giggs is that even when he collaborates with US rap stars, he manages to stay authentically British. Too often, UK rappers try to Americanize their sound, but Giggs drops Ryan Giggs references and jokes that his enemies are “as thick as shit” even on tracks that feature household US stars such as French Montana (‘Hold Up’).
That’s not to say ‘Big Bad’ is perfect. It’s definitely in need of a more brutal edit: the 18-song tracklist is a little bloated and some songs such as ‘Don’t Go Hungry’ (which features Labrinth doing his best Weeknd impression) are pretty forgettable. However, there are enough bangers on here to keep you hitting the replay button, with Giggs’ unique vocal delivery never anything but interesting. He sounds ready to reign for a long time yet.
- Release date: Friday 22
- Record label: Universal Island Records