Review | Skepta - Ignorance Is Bliss
Three years after the release of his critically acclaimed Konnichiwa, the expectations may have been set too high for Skepta as he returns with even more sophistication on Ignorance Is Bliss.
While it's been quite some time since Skepta released a full-length project, the grime legend has been nothing short of busy. Since 2016, Skepta has toured the United States and Europe, released his Vicious EP, featured on tracks by A$AP Rocky and Drake, became a chief in his Nigerian hometown and fathered his first child in late 2018. After a long wait, the Tottenham rapper releases his fifth studio album Ignorance Is Bliss, under Boy Better Know, the record label he started in 2005 with younger brother and fellow grime artist, JME.
The 13-track album reaches a run time of just over 40 minutes, with a range of UK features with the exception of the Nigerian rapper, WizKid, and Atlanta based artist, Key. The album starts with the previously released singles "Bullet From A Gun" and "Greaze Mode" (feat. Nafe Smallz).
"Bullet From A Gun" is a powerful personal narrative over a self-produced beat. Skepta begins with one of the more poignant lines of the whole project - "Like a bullet from a gun it burns. When you realise she was never your girl, it was just your turn." Skepta is no stranger to reflective album introductions evident through "Reflecting" from Microphone Champion and "Same Shit Different Day" on Blacklisted.
The Key! feature on "Redrum" is underwhelming and although "No Sleep" is sonically interesting, it doesn't offer anything overly captivating. "What Do You Mean?" (feat. J Hus) is a highlight when first listening to the album; a smoother track than most with lyrics reminding us that Skepta is the type of guy to title his debut album Greatest Hits. Skepta has clearly matured since those days, but perhaps this has hindered his music with cuts like "Going Through It" and "Same Old Story" demonstrating a more serious and stressed outlook as he explores themes of distrust within the entertainment industry. The chemistry between Skepta and B Live on "Love Me Not" (feat. Cheb Wise & B Live) works well over the 2-step beat that samples "Murder on the Dancefloor" by Sophie Ellis-Bextor.
"Animal Instinct" (feat. Lancey Foux) has been praised as a fan favourite with the strong first verse being a long build up before the chorus and verse by Lancey Foux. An artist I hadn't previously known of but if you liked "Animal Instinct", I recommend checking out his latest project Pink II. The second half of the album has some noticeable highlights including "Glow In The Dark" (feat. Lay-Z & WizKid) and the previously released "Pure Water". "Glow In The Dark" features the albums best melody and some optimistic verses from Skepta while "Pure Water" is a darker song that leaves us with a taste of the artists' commendable production work.
Skepta proves his production potential as he confidently manoeuvres through the album with calculated lyrics, but unfortunately only has a few songs which can be constantly revisited, as a result of hit-or-miss features, as well as lack of personality. The UK Grime scene and in fact, all of us, should forever respect Skepta as rap royalty, however Ignorance Is Bliss shows that the expectations from Konnichiwa have heavily and negatively influenced the album.
Best song: Glow In The Dark (feat. Lay-Z & WizKid)
Worst song: Going Through It