What do you get if you combine two of grime’s greatest pop stars with half of the UK’s most in-demand rap duo? The brilliant ‘Insomnia’, a brand new collaboration album from Skepta, Chip and D-Block Europe‘s Young Adz.
It’s surprising enough that Chip and Skepta could make an album together without fans getting wind of it, but more noteworthy still that they’ve chosen to team up with Adz, a less well-established talent. Then again, D Block have sold out north London’s Alexandra Palace twice. Bringing everything they have to the table, the trio have made an album to go down in UK rap history.
Opener ‘Mains’ sees Adz, Skeppy, and Chip deliver a pop-trap song ready for the (now-delayed) summertime. With a plethora of double entendres and euphemisms, Skepta is the yin to Adz’s heavily auto-tuned about girls, sex, drugs and the trap. Young Adz, a trendsetter in the UK music scene, has flows are so catchy that even grime veteran Chip has begun to emulate his tremulous deliver: “Grown up now, gotta move different / I only cheat if it’s two women”.
DaBeatfreakz, the hottest producers in the UK rap scene right now, produce the drill-trap beat for ‘Star In The Hood’. The trio tell us how earned the moniker and Chip even shouts out east London pop star who made the phrase big: “Star in the hood from time / You can put that on Tinchy Stryder”.
After the stunning start and middle, the album sags a little towards the end – especially on the repetitive ‘Sin City’, which sees Adz repeating the same inane lyrics over and over (“I’m the reason why she’s got a plastic nose”), the AutoTune making it sound as though he has a cold. Tottenham veterans Skepta and Chip’s verses are more mediocre than elsewhere on the album, but it’s Adz’s vocal that really grates.
Overall, though, despite a couple of subpar verses, ‘Insomnia’ is one for the books. The UK rap world has never seen three of the scene’s most in-demand rappers surprisingly team up for an album. Here the best of north and south London have come together and paved the way for others to follow suit.
Yet it’s hard not to conclude that, as Chip puts it at one point, “if three man link up and do an album, it’s not gonna sound like this”.
Release date: March 27
Record label: SKC M29