en: Let Em Ave It [info]
The hottest property out of Peckham since Only Fools and Horses wideboy Derek Trotter's hooky gear, Nathan 'Giggs' Thompson is a rare character in modern-day British hip hop: uncompromising, gimmick-free, refusing to play the game to crossover commercially. That approach has already shifted tens of thousands of mixtapes. And this debut album for XL is chock with unashamed thug rap to cement his rising status.
Let Em Ave It may, in fact, represent the clarion call of the first homegrown star to succeed while keeping things on a strictly ghetto anthem level, concurrently boasting potential appeal for stateside listeners. Taking cues from American forerunners without imitating entirely, his lackadaisical flow is more TI than Tinchy Stryder. An admittedly acquired taste, at extremes it even approaches the infamous warped, snail's pace 'chopped and screwed' methodology popularised by 1990s Texan figurehead DJ Screw.
Most tangibly, US dirty south and gangster rap's grubby paws are all over the snap - and often subject matter - of hustler jams like Get Your Money Up. But if the international language of his music alone gives few clues to Giggs' geographical origins, then distinctively British attention to detail keeps things true. Take Reminiscing, throwing down smile-raising desires to "take it back to the [Sega] Mega Drive, Super Nintendo…", yet remaining nails-tough.
Usual UK hip hop cliques are nowhere to be seen throughout: featured crewmates will only be familiar to particularly fervent followers of London's rap underground. And in a wider scene where you can often predict guest rhymers before clapping eyes on a record's tracklist, that is refreshing.
Giggs is far from the first British mic fiend to rattle through gangster cliches, but a fearsome street reputation, prison record included, lends an overriding feeling that he is uncomfortably for real. Sufficiently dangerous, indeed, to cause panicky police to cancel an entire 2010 tour, only serving to strengthen his anti-authority anger here. Eschewing daytime radio hit filler, with menacing heat such as past single Look What the Cat Dragged In stashed in his arsenal, Giggs certainly lets anybody who stands in his path have it.