Around 2008 just before summer I was chilling in my boy’s room in Brunel playing pro evolution instead of preparing for exams (as you do). My boy burst into the room telling us to pause the game. He said we had to stop and listen. He connected his phone to the speakers and started playing us this song. I remember him saying, he is some guy from Peckham we should listen. He played us ‘be careful’ which we all enjoyed then after he played us ‘Talking the hardest’. We were hooked, we kept on repeating the song over and over again. It was crazy how infectious the track was. Within a few days the whole campus was pumping the songs out of their rooms, cars, you could even hear it through the headphones of some of the students in the library. At this point the funky house scene was buzzing and grime was at a bit of a stand still. Gigg’s talking the hardest had a refreshing sound. Hardcore lyrics and hard hitting beats. He painted a vivid image of Peckham, me personally the way he spoke in his songs I privately told myself I would never ever go to Peckham!
It didn’t take long for the song to make it’s way into clubs. This was at what I believe to be the height of the university rave scene. Whenever the track dropped everybody would go mad! Even those that were always at the bar with a screw face couldn’t help but enter the dance floor. The most intriguing thing about this song is that everybody knew every single lyric. When I went back to home in East London the week-ends, all my cousins and friends were pumping it out of their speakers. Towards the end of the year there was an ACS event where Giggs performed live. Technically this was my first time at a ‘live performance’ from an artist. I remember it like it was yesterday. We were at the back, he came on stage with 50 people behind him. You could tell as a performer he was a little rough around the edges but I feel that that did not take anything away from his performance. Everybody in the auditorium was going mad! The song has so many cheeky quotables.
“Anybody thinks they can talk to my clique end up covered in red like a portion of chips UMMMM”
“All my mandem are hot, all your mandem are washed”
“Chicks looking at me like talk to me darling”.
Gigg’s buzz was getting bigger around the country but one would wonder whether he would be a one hit wonder. We have seen so many one hit wonders in the grime and rap scene. But Gigg’s was entirely different. He put out mixtape after mixtape. In 2008 he released ‘Ard Bodied’ which was a critically acclaimed underground mixtape. It included tracks like ‘Talking the Hardest’ and ‘Pain is the essence’. It didn’t remain in South London, every neighborhood was playing it. He also featured local South London rappers such as Blade brown and Gunna Dee. As for the content it was mainly based around hardships growing up in Peckham, drugs and crime. But his witty lyrics, strong beats and his distinctive ‘ummm’ adlibs added zest to the songs.
He slowly grew as an artist and caught a lot of media attention, online, on the radio and on TV. I wouldn’t say he birthed UK rap but I don’t think it was a coincidence that many other UK rappers began to get more exposure as Gigg’s become bigger. Mashtown, Joe Black, Young Teflon among others. He was crossing international boarders, collaborating with established US artists like Waka Flocka.. Unfortunately as he appeared to be hitting his peak Giggs encountered hardships and frustrations; specifically legal adversaries. He got arrested and was on remand for 6 months. When he came out local clubs and venues would refuse to book shows for Gigg’s as they felt that his presence would disturb the peace. He was close to signing with XL, Met’s Operation Trident attempted to block the move several times. Absurd rumours flew around suggesting that Giggs was a big time drug lord, using his music money to fund drug operations within his area. Perhaps this was his past coming back to haunt him as before music he was jailed for 2 years for a firearm charge. Nonetheless it is a shame how the powers that be failed to see past old charges and cases. This was a man clearly determined to leave behind the criminal lifestyle and make a career from music.
If you follow Giggs music you can see a definite growth in his music, since his legal woes it’s clear that he is moving away from the gritty lifestyle he once lived in and around the estates in Peckham. If you listened to Jay-Z’s earlier music he often spoke about shooting, stabbing and dealing drugs, but since he married and had a child his music is more about celebrating his success. As a person we all go through different journeys. Artists reflect this in their music, this specifically applies to Giggs. Recently I went to the Kano Concert and he brought out Giggs to perform ‘3 wheel ups’, I didn’t realize it then but upon reflection it is clear there has been progression. I saw him almost 10 years ago at university coming out with the whole of Peckham with an angry face in all black. Now he’s performing grime and garage tracks with other artists like Kano, JME, and Skepta.
His evolution as an artist is inspirational and he has truly earned the title of landlord. This has been a good year for UK music, with Tion Wayne, Big Tobz and Blitz, Skepta and Kano releasing bodies of work along with others. Plus 67, Chip, Wretch 32, Stormzy and Potter all have something special up their sleeve. The question you may ask is where does Landlord rank? I guess we can’t answer that till year end but Giggs has definitely applied pressure on the rest of the industry. He sums up why I love albums that are produced independent of label meddling and tweaking because you get authentic and trill bodies of work.
Tracks like Blow Back and Savage illustrates Giggs at his best. Blow Back brings together 2 artists that have made a mark on two different respective generations; Stromzy and Dubz so you know this was a banger but its amazing that Giggs crosses both. Kyze’s verse on Savage are Cas’ verse on Lyrical Combat are my favourite feature verses on the album but I take nothing away from other strong features such as Stormzy, Youngs Teflon, Rico Love or Donaeo.