In terms of its overall presentation and texture, ‘Landlord’ never truly lets go of a raw, unprocessed, ground level quality.
There’s nothing at all shiny or glamorous about the UK rap release, and so naturally it will deter some music fans.
Still, for those becoming a little weary of the industry’s current crop of presentable, attention grabbing, flashy hip-hop artists – ‘Landlord’ should provide a breath of fresh air.
As 33-year-old Londoner Giggs briefly mentions on his fourth studio album’s somewhat unsound intro, he’s in no way distracted by a need to infiltrate the mainstream charts and this definitely aids the album’s all-conquering grit.
The production on ‘Landlord’ won’t change the rap game, a handful of the beats can be found on many other artists’ recent LP’s or online mixtapes – in one form or another. Yet, much to his credit, what takes these commonplace beats to another level is Giggs himself.
The self-proclaimed Landlord is joined by fellow UK emcees Stormzy and Dubz on ‘The Blow Back’. After Stormzy confidently re-ignites the six-minute epic, Dubz takes a completely different approach and infuses proceedings with a lively, rebellious unpredictability.
Quickly separating itself from other UK rap tracks that explore deep passion and sexuality, the slow-burning smoulder of ‘The Process’ actually feels sexy. Giggs flaunts an intense, penetrating swagger over the creeping, understated production of highlight ‘Just Swervin’.
The bass-heavy, chuggy beats of ‘Slippin’ contain the LP’s most immediate appeal. Plus, the cut easily allows Giggs to establish himself to listeners as a singular, multi-faceted rap force in his own right – admittedly, ‘Landlord’ would benefit from a slight culling of guest artists.
That being said, London rapper and producer CasIsDead makes the first of two pretty powerful appearances on ‘501 (Hollow & Heston)’.
There’s a moment towards the middle of the tune where its hook begins to feel flat. Nevertheless, just after this section – with a trademark grunt – Giggs balances it out with rounds of snappy, startlingly vigorous wordplay.
London UK funky artist Donea’o makes a guest appearance over the seductive, minimalist beatwork of ‘Lock Doh’, which has Giggs reflecting scantily on the scantily-clad ladies that surround him. Joined by Youngs Teflon, Liverpudlian emcee Aystar’s accent makes its mark within the memorable, brass-led beatwork of ‘The Best’.
Featuring esteemed New Orleans-born singer/songwriter and producer Rico Love, ‘Of Course’ is an R&B-infused offering.
Sandwiched between two abrasive tunes, ‘Of Course’ sounds strikingly saccharine – and yet even here, Giggs somehow manages to rough it up while touching upon personal issues that include the loss of much missed family members and his own children.
Ultimately though, the two artists’ differing musical standpoints come together questionably at best – ‘Of Course’ might be the LP’s only true misstep.
Initially ‘Savage’ doesn’t stand out on the tracklisting. Like much of ‘Landlord’ it impacts gradually with charging, menacing, bulky yet accessible production. Still, rapper Kyze’s contribution doesn’t disappoint, and it’s easy to appreciate Giggs’ lyrical quirks and presence on this one.
On ‘Clipped Him’, fellow rapper Gunna Dee eagerly lays the groundwork for Giggs’ unhurried, deep toned, rhythmic rapping to step in to take centrestage. The tune doesn’t truly take off until he does, then again, the pairs’ delivery styles aren’t worlds apart.
Giggs weaves drastically in-between an urgent flow and more relaxed delivery on spaced-out, free-falling, trap-fuelled cut ‘The New Sh*t’.
There are moments on ‘Landlord’ where Giggs can sound overly rested, but there’s no letting up on the razor-sharp, undeniably tight standout ‘Lyrical Combat’ – which sees both CasIsDead and Dubz reunite with the rapper.
CasIsDead, Dubz and Giggs come together comfortably here. There’s energy, drive and fire galore as they collectively head-butt their way through well-worn topics like pushing drugs, defying the police and rattling up the neighbours.
Verdict: ******** 8/10