Nothing But Bangers: On Skepta’s ‘Konnichiwa’

If you were someone that was unfamiliar with the UK grime scene going into 2016, that is likely to change.  After years of putting in work overseas, Joseph Junior Adenuga, better known by his stage name Skepta has emerged as a surprising crossover success in the US. Though it is his fourth studio album, Konnichiwa feels like a debut to the new listener, and a really good one at that.

The first few singles, “That’s Not Me” and “It Ain’t Safe” set the tone for the fittingly titled “Shutdown” to become a certified smash.  The record saw great success in the UK but became nothing short of a spectacle nearly every time it was performed throughout the American festival circuit. It was a certified banger.  But Konnichiwa doesn’t just start and stop with “Shutdown.”  The album is full of just that – nothing but bangers.

Skepta self-produces the majority of the project with razor sharp focus. The bouncy beats feature an explosive combination of sped-up drums, synths and raw electronic sounds.  And Skepta seems to be right in his pocket on every one of these tracks employing braggadocios rhymes with both swagger and flair.

The highlight of the album comes in the form of a vintage Pharrell verse on the track “Numbers.” The return of Skateboard P is bound to bring out the inner child as he stunts like it was ’06 again with lines like, “My accountant countin my cabbage, also countin my carrots/ Vegetarian habits, since BBC was established.”  And if you haven’t watched the grimy visual for the brash, “Man (Gang),” you might not be as lit as you thought you were.

With that being said, Konnichiwa manages to bring grime to the US mainstream without sacrificing any bit of the genre’s essence.

Alex Oka