There’s an interesting divide happening right now in the various different rap-adjacent strains of UK music. On the one hand, there’s grime, the fast and hard and jittery style that came out of the London pirate-radio continuum in the early ’00s and quickly became its own culture. On the other, there’s UK drill, a mutation of the Chicago style that’s taken hold overseas and come to influence American rap music in ways that nobody could’ve foreseen. On a new album, stars from both ends of that divide come together.
You probably know Skepta, the London grime veteran who rose to become one of the biggest stars that the scene ever produced. (Skepta released the underrated album Ignorance Is Bliss less than a year ago. Chip is another longstanding grime titan with a career that’s stretched over more than a decade, though he’s always been more of a traditional rapper than Skepta. And then there’s Young Adz, an Auto-Tune-heavy sing-rapper and a member of the group D-Block Europe; he’s a big star of the surging drill movement. The three of them joined forces to record the new album Insomnia — which, paradoxically enough, doesn’t sound much like grime or drill.
Insomnia is a collection of slick, streamlined rap music. Skepta produced a few of the tracks, flipping an MIA sample beautifully on “St. Tropez.” Vocally, Skepta is his usual brusque self, and Chip absolutely raps his ass off. I’d probably like the album better if Young Adz wasn’t on it, but I guess I like what his presence represents. You can stream the whole album below.
Insomnia is out now.