Right, I’m going to try and post a ‘conscious classic’ every week. To kick things off, check this incredible lyrical performance from Skinnyman, taken from his 2004 album ‘Council Estate of Mind’. Three minutes of pure knowledge and depth – with no hooks!
In a relentless indictment of the music industry, Skinny explains why UK hip-hop artists have difficulty getting signed – because they talk too much realness! No doubt the likes of Lowkey, Akala and Black the Ripper will relate to this, given that they get a bare minimum of exposure on commercial media, in spite of having massive underground popularity.
One positive development over the last few years is that good artists don’t have to be as reliant on the music industry as they once were – the internet gives new opportunities for guerrilla marketing and distribution that mean you can get music into people’s ears without having to spend tens of thousands of pounds. Without a doubt, some of our best conscious/political rappers are using these opportunities with great effect.
Anyway, check the lyrics.
I don’t wanna blow up, throughout every era I’ve been here
So far the underground circuit has been fair
The home of hip hop, can you say you’ve been there?
Home’s where the heart is so hip hop lives right here
I’m from UK, to you that might seem rare
I’m steppin’ up now to make sure I seem clear
In every council estate we’ve got pure talent
No one don’t care because they’re seen as a challenge
I suppose we’ll never be the balance that you’re lookin’
You wanna dilute the realness then sling a hook in
Most A&R cats I’ve ever met was all shookin’
I’m lost for words if they don’t bring a chequebook in
I’m livin’ in a place where you can get your life tooken
For half steppin, by kids that’ll blast weapons
Pull up at the lights they’ll have you out in half seconds
Think your rough hang around if your ass reckons
Don’t have to look for trouble, trouble it’ll find ya
Don’t turn around it’ll be right behind ya
Maybe September the 11th will remind ya
Nobody ain’t too major nor minor
If you’re bruck in the street or in a brand new recliner
Grab ya dicks and girls rub your vagina
Pay the pound I’ll provide the punch liner
Might look young but I’m a real old timer
Been around ever since the days of Boogie Down
You can check my résumé, the evidence can be found
Forever been blessin’ eloquence over sound
Before they had the lino for spinnin’ on the ground
Since then shit’s changed man, shit goes down
But we’re still gettin’ down to the same old sound, it’s hip hop
It’s good shit for rockin’ a crowd
Where there ain’t no space for mistakes allowed
I feel proud if I’m leaving crowds crying for more
This year I’m really thinking ’bout trying a tour
Is hip hop worth dying for, if your life’s on the line and your only crime is being poor?
This time around I feel I want more
I wanna see my son’s future set secure
Without havin’ to go out and start breakin’ the law
I’m sick of being sat in the flats shotting the draw
I’m sick of watchin every day come and go by, tellin’ titch and fat boy, hold ya head high
See others come and go, watchin’ their mothers cry, singing “why did my boy have to die?”
And still we try
As others might choose to get high
But we must up rise through to get by
It don’t take too much to figure out the facts, who’s bringin in all the coke and the crack?
This week an 82 year old got her throat slashed in the flats, cats are lookin’ cash for their crack
And we’re the kids whose left facing the facts
Now used for lookin’ mobiles that match their straps
As if it’s fashion, everybody’s ready for the action
Ready for the mashin’ and thuggin’ it with a passion
Only takes two egos to start clashin, bullets start flyin then the blood’ll start splashin’
Social rage is really climaxing
Everyday I see it getting worse by a fraction
Droughts for the weed, but ‘nough of that crack thing
Nobody round here is gonna be relaxin’
And this ain’t a whites or a blacks thing
It’s if you’re livin in the council flats and on a brack ting
They got us on a lab rat thing
And it’s funny to me how easily we’re all adapting
So I’m jus gonna keep on rapping
You lot keep ya next snapping, but fuck the hook
Just say fuck the hook, fuck the hook.
Massive respect to the one and only Skinnyman! Please please please give us another album!