‘BIG BAD’ Elevates Giggs’ Blueprint With A More Varied Palette Than Ever

Words: James Keith

The Landlord is back. At the stroke of midnight last night, the long-awaited BIG BAD... dropped in all its guest-heavy glory. We say ‘long-awaited’, but it had only been two years since his mixtape, Wamp 2 Dem, had arrived. In the scale of Giggs’ output, however, two years is a lifetime. Still, on first impressions at least, it seems to be worth the wait.

If you weren’t on board with Giggs before, this might be your best shot at discovering what all the fuss is about. We were all understandably hyped by the album’s opening shot, “187”, a blockbuster road banger with a big-budget video to boot (not to mention the mini movie that preceded it). This was Giggs at his best: taking centre stage and dominating. In truth, and this is no bad thing at all, Giggs usually works best with someone to bounce off, as a counter to a more high-energy artist or MC (“Man Don’t Care” being the definitive example), so such a strong solo effort boded very well. The shining example this time (though there are others) is “Gwop Express”, an infectious and technically impressive collab that stands out as a clear highlight from first listen. Link-ups with Ghetts, French Montana and Jadakiss are also easy to love and will no doubt also become fan favourites, and that’s a wonderful thing to be able to say in the year of our Lord 2019. But solo cuts like “187”, “Show Me Respect” and “Baby” shine just as brightly.

Which brings us round to a key criticism BIG BAD... should put an end to: production. In the past, it has been said that some of Giggs’ instrumentals can be a little same-y. That should’ve been put to bed on Landlord and Wamp 2 Dem, but if there’s anyone out there still questioning his choice of beats, point them in the direction of this album. BIG BAD... features some of the most varied productions to date, perhaps one of the reasons this album took a little longer, some of which even comes from Giggs himself. There’s the almost New York flavour to the punchy drums and soulful samples of “Show Me Respect” and “Gwop Express” (courtesy of Snips); the neon sheen of “Mic Check” (thanks to Jahlil Beats); the dreamy seductiveness of “Talk About It” with Theophilius London and Kristian Hamilton; the drilly inflections of “187” (produced by Machine Baby and Giggs himself); and, of course, the swaggering grooves of the Fanatix-produced “Baby”. Really, the producers he gets in are to be celebrated at least as much as the rappers and MCs.

For years now—pretty much since Walk In Da Park—Giggs’ detractors have been accusing him of playing it safe. Well, BIG BAD... should be the final clapback to such criticisms. You might not like the results, but it’s exciting to see him take risks and push himself in directions we wouldn’t have expected: he’s trying new flows, new collaborations, new styles and he’s even flexed his production talents on this one. It’s also exciting to see Giggs take his distinctly Peckham sound across the pond without losing a shred of the South London rawness. As it is that he’s able to call on such big names, what’s more impressive is that he’s managed to keep this purely UK-focused and, more importantly, purely Giggs-focused. If this is what happens when we have to wait a little longer between projects, then let’s all slow things right down.

Posted on February 22, 2019