Giggs Big Bad Universal Island Records
There might be no other UK rapper like Giggs. The Peckham MC has reached canonical status at this point, having successfully made the crossover to the mainstream after years in the relative underground (his last album reached number two in the UK charts), all while maintaining the respect of his peers and day-one fans.
His fifth album Big Bad cements his position. His last release, 2017’s tape Wamp 2 Dem, with its greater scope of sounds, was a solid indicator of things to come. Doubling down on this approach, Big Bad finds Giggs embracing a US-influenced palette
of trap sounds, warm melodies, and soulful samples, which sit alongside more minimalist and occasionally bashment-tinged UK sounds.
A constant factor in Giggs’ appeal has been his distinctively gruff and gravelly voice; the engaging way he can switch up effortlessly between menacing and comical. These familiar traits make the more ambitious terrain (and sonics) he’s traversing on Big Bad work. Clocking in at over an hour, the album can drag at times, but it certainly gives him space to experiment as he pleases. Tender moments about his partner’s perfume mingle with stone-cold tracks about the streets, and he’s even producing some of the beats this time around (on the metallic, winding piano of 187). When he tries his hand at singing on Talk About it, it’s surprisingly endearing, even if it’s a little out of tune.
Of course, not everything quite works. Baby, with its seductive production from The FaNaTiX is, on the surface, one of the biggest tracks on the album. But Giggs’ enunciation is so clear that it’s impossible to ignore how bizarre the lyrics are. “Shit’s Madagascar/ When the monkeys made a poo scatter” is one of the refrains. It’s pretty funny, but also unquestionably jarring in a track where he’s chirpsing (“Hello baby/ don’t be so paro baby”).
With its bold production and weighty bars, Big Bad is an album as huge as the fairy tale wolf he’s invoking, and sees Giggs stepping up a level while retaining a deep sense of self. The high standard of features brings out some of the best of the Hollowman’s flow (Run Me Down with Ghetts is a stand-out). But more than ever, Giggs is shining on his own terms.
Over the humid, gangsta rap beats of Mic Check, New York legend Jadakiss erupts into the song, his presence a reminder that Giggs has reached a similar calibre. But Giggs’ expansion isn’t derivative or at the expense of his own persona. Big Bad is a big album that brings London – with its shit chat-up lines and all – to the world.