Of Grime’s Golden Age MCs, there is no better example of sustained lyrical potency than ‘The Movement’ founder, Ghetts. His latest formidable effort, Stormzy-featuring “Skengman” is a fiery celebration of the old and new school, with two leaders of their respective eras joining forces in delivering hammer blows to their challengers.
Following the release of introspective “Proud Family” and reconciliatory anthem “IC3” with onetime rival, Skepta, GH returns to his combative best on “Skengman”, brandishing the most trustworthy assets of his musical weaponry; high-octane skippy flows and hard-hitting punchlines. Cutting in against eerie, swirling strings, the MC-cum-rapper is wary of slipping into old habits, lamenting “I could be the bigger man, but them boy there won’t respect my growth”. Ghetts’ metamorphosis into the well-rounded artist we see today has been nothing short of spectacular. His microphone presence and pen game have never been in question, but the unbridled rage of institutionalised Ghetto, who was “19 with a gun twice [his] age” has been harnessed and redistributed into his present-day artistic endeavours.
The guest appearance of Stormzy aka “Mr Skeng” may have raised some eyebrows, given the recent drama between the ‘Superheroes’ rapper and longstanding Ghetts ally, Chip. Following what can only be described as a lyrical barrage from Chip’s corner after an unsavoury near-encounter between the former collaborators, Stormzy uses his feature to indirectly respond. Quipping “it’s funny, on the phone, you’re a shouter” the Croydon rapper could be alluding to Chip’s preference for old-school lyrical warfare, as opposed to the physical confrontation that videos suggest Stormzy desired. Along with goading bars like “new school n***** ain’t nowhere testin’, cos you n***** do online wrestling”, Big Mike, with his usual vocal clarity, doubles-down on his decision to not engage directly with Chip’s headline-generating call out.
The war-like feel of the track is heightened by the minimalist choral refrain of “Skeng… Skengman”, and given his affinity with clashing, Ghetts’ evocation of his former persona in the final verse is a nostalgic touch. Referencing cult self-help book, 48 Laws of Power, the MC, now channelling the spirit of Ghetto, notes “Before I ever knew about Robert Greene, I knew about rob and scheme”, expertly painting a picture of his life before and after the music.
Ghetts has teased his third studio album Conflict of Interest for release this year, and we can expect to hear “Skengman” on the final tracklist.