Album Review: Roll Deep – Winner Stays On (Relentless)

Grime's final shark-jump is a leap into mediocrity

There’s few more tiresome mantras in music than equating the first taste of commercial success with ‘selling out’. However, now and again something comes along that just forces you to sit up and proclaim, “Dang! That’s some debased-ass shit!”

Those first-wave grime heroes’ belated 
bid for wider recognition and financial stability has been a conveyor-belt of winces. Perversely fitting, then, that this gruesome era of UK urban/chart-dance hybridisation should be hallmarked by one of heyday 
grime’s signature names.

After a study of what makes this album so offensive, it becomes apparent that it’s not just the way [a]Roll Deep[/a] have replaced anything that felt vaguely special about themselves for perplexingly du jour Ibiza Uncovered ’98 synth stabs and the flattest thug-step wobbles this side of a [a]Caspa[/a] B-side. It’s actually the songs themselves. Whereas the traditional rap extremities of rags and riches have proved ever-fertile turf for rhyme-mining, this album is testament to what happens in between.

After eight tough years culminating in moderate success, they find themselves basking in mediocrity; saying absolutely nothing, a lot. From inane chugger ‘Out The Blue’ to the inevitably single-bound Alesha Dixon-featuring ‘Take Control’, their creed is thus: [a]Roll Deep[/a] ‘get through’ stuff. They have a quite good night, which they get through. They have a minor gripe, which again, they get through.

This album is a tribute to enduring a profoundly underwhelming pop star existence. The banality could be forgiven if it included even one decent hook but alas, no. We trust that the boys’ broods remain well-fed and their GTI rims are shiny, because justification for this must be weighty.

Jaimie Hodgson