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Skepta - Topic

Doin' It Again Play

While Professor Green, Tinchy Stryder, and Tinie Tempah have effortlessly made the smooth transition from the underground grime scene they came from to the upper reaches of the charts, one of the genre's pioneers, Joseph Adenuga, aka Skepta, appears to have been left trailing behind. The Boy Better Know founder and former Roll Deep MC's first two albums, Greatest Hits and Microphone Champion, went by pretty much unnoticed, despite star turns from Jay Sean and Wiley, while his uncompromising gritty sound has so far failed to make it onto mainstream radio playlists. However, following an invitation by Diddy to produce a grime remix of his club smash "Hello Good Morning," Skepta's third album, Doin' It Again, is receiving much more high-profile attention. Unlike his chart-friendly counterparts, Skepta's newfound fame hasn't commercialized his sound, with the harsh beats, breakneck-speed lyrical delivery, and sub-bass-heavy production of its 15 tracks unlikely to attract accusations of betraying his pirate radio beginnings. "Mike Lowery" is an aggressive expletive-laden riposte to his Internet haters that samples Guy Ritchie's British gangster flick Snatch, the sinister synth-led "Thrown in the Bin" is a minimalist slice of U.K. hip-hop featuring his own Boy Better Know collective, and the frenetic electronic bleeps of "Amnesia" echo the sonic paranoia of Dizzee Rascal's Mercury Music Prize-winning debut, Boy in da Corner. An array of guest appearances from the likes of Chipmunk (on a surprisingly melancholic take on the merits of fame, "Big"), N-Dubz (on the dark atmospherics of "So Alive"), and former EastEnders actress Preeya Kalidas (on the punchy string-led "Cross My Heart") up the star-studded quotient, but apart from Greg Timberlake's heavily Auto-Tuned and corny '80s power ballad vocals on "Rescue Me," they very rarely detract from Skepta's unsettling and authentic street sound. Doin' It Again is unlikely to cross over in the same way as its several collaborators have done, but hardcore grime fans should be satisfied that at least one of their originators hasn't surrendered to the ubiquitous electro-pop sound just yet. ~ Jon O'Brien, Rovi
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