Professor Green Professor GreenAlive Till I'm Dead
The conclusion is that British hip-hop, hungry for chart success, is getting whiter by the day. First it was the highly recommendable soul bath by Plan B on “The Defamation Of Strickland Banks” (even deodorant brand Axe took notice of the lad). Then we got Example giving us the 100% British party called “Won’t Go Quietly”. And now comes Professor Green, another dopehead Harry Potter born in London suburb, leaving his flag in the hit parade. White as Julia Roberts’ teeth, with a child-like hooligan look, this young Hackney MC has been stirring up the fire under the musical pot with his ingenious rhymes, his musical tranquility –any style goes- and his ambitious attitude. Those who saw him perform at Sónar are most likely to remember the image of the milky white twenty-something with his shorts and sunglasses who came to catch some sun and drink loads of beer. Okay, all true –although I liked the gig- but you only have to read the music press to find out that this 26-year old is the great white hope of that rap-grime crossover that is becoming so fashionable now. It’s called “hype”.
He comes with a nice little contract, courtesy of Virgin –he probably feels like he’s struck gold after his stay at Mike Skinner’s The Beats imprint. He comes with a troubled past where he had to work dealing marijuana in order to survive and was even stabbed in the neck with a broken bottle in a bar fight. And, above all, he comes with an impressive capacity to connect with both the rap world and the bigger audiences. Which was enough for “Alive Till I’m Dead” –his second album after the erroneously overlooked “Jungle #1”– to turn into one of the most awaited records. And the man delivers the goods, more than that even. How? Easy: using the formula many other smart people from the underground have been using so far to become millionaires. It’s called “pop”.
With a flow that turns him into the British Eminem –sometimes he sounds like Marshall Matters imitating a London accent– Stephen Manderson tells his tales of girls, street happenings, hustles and parties in a sonic frame which adapts to an infinity of palates. He combines those moments of stylistic openness without parachute with minutes more compromised with the street mist. The sinister dubstep of “Closing The Door”, the crushing synths of “Do For You” or the bass and “The Wire”-like chorus of “City Of Gold” are witness to that. But Manderson is also comfortable producing candy for the masses. The best proof of that is the brilliant single “I Need You Tonight”, with INXS’ funky guitar samples included. Or the filtered house moments, Costa Brava style, of “Falling Down”. Or the emo-rock with chorus and reggae-like laments of “Oh My God”. Or the presence of Lilly Allen on another highlight on the album, the Eminem-esque “Just Be Good To Green”. The thing is that while, with other MCs, these kind of pop insertions are most of the time a bit embarrassing, in the hands of Professor Green nothing squeaks, nothing reaches the border of embarrassment; the man does it in such a way he keeps his authenticity and street cred intact, even though he’s rapping over a base of hard-rock or some delirious piece of Ibiza techno. We could say that “Alive Till I’m Dead” is club music, pop music, club grime, dancehall, R&B, house, but after listening you’re always left with one unmistakable taste on the tip of your tongue, bitter like tonic. It’s called “rap”.
Professor Green Ft Fink - Closing The Door OFFICIAL