The godfather of the UK rap scene has returned. Since the release of Walk in Da Park in August 2008, Giggs has paved the way for a generation of artists obsessed with unfiltered and unapologetic rap. The Peckham rapper’s new mixtape Now or Never dropped seemingly out of nowhere at the start of November, and provided a difficult year for UK rap with a much-needed silver lining.
Giggs’ overt arrogance is on display from the outset in Now or Never, and rightly so. It is the arrogance of a man who knows his legacy is untouchable, a man who no longer needs to prove himself, a man whose influence on grime transcends the music he produces. Giggs takes a backseat role in much of this mixtape, letting the featured artists take centre stage with Dave, Jorja Smith, and A Boogie wit da Hoodie being three of the heaviest hitters on the star-studded project.
The 16-track mixtape begins with the title track ‘Now or Never’. You’d be forgiven for thinking Giggs might take it easy in his solo songs due to the high-end features they’re surrounded by. ‘Now or Never’ immediately dismisses these misconceptions and showcases vintage Giggs. Not just a pioneer but an evergreen entertainer. ‘Debonair’ is the standout solo song on the project, combining the typical nonchalant Giggs flow with an atypical jazz club beat.
Whichever way you look at it, there’s no escaping the features that give this mixtape its selling point. ‘Changed Me’ with A Boogie is the first of the huge collabs on the track list, but also one of the least impressive. Both artists on the song are excellent in their own right but this contrast in styles feels forced and doesn’t run smoothly. Normal service is resumed in ‘I’m Workin’ with Jorja Smith, a feature that was impossible to fail. Jorja Smith often compliments rappers with her delicate soprano and Giggs’ ragged deep-tone works so well in tandem.
‘Straight Murder’ with Dave is indisputably the best song on the mixtape. Giggs and Dave have produced genius in the past with ‘Peligro’ which is held amongst Giggs’ greatest tunes, and simply put ‘Straight Murder’ outdoes it. It really is the epitome of the unsullied rap scene Giggs has helped mould into what it is today.
Now or Never is by no means Giggs’ greatest work. However, the true intent behind this mixtape feels deeper than just the music. Giggs knows his name is cemented in UK rap history. He can afford to take a back seat and let the next generation take the baton from here.
Image: Island Records