The Hollowman is back, and taking UK road rap to new heights…

Since first establishing himself as one of the UK’s most creative rappers with 2007’s ‘Welcome 2 Boomzville’, Giggs has proven he’s worthy of the accolade again and again, dabbling in bashment, reggae, drill, grime, trap and hip-hop.

‘Big Bad’ celebrates all the above and more, in 18 thunderous tunes. Opener ‘Great Collectives’ – featuring NYC-via-Albania rapper GASHI – thuds dark bass alongside Giggs’ famously steady, deep-toned delivery. The track’s hard-hitting, anthemic vibe is a great start to the album.

Second cut ‘Set It Off’ winds around a looped synth and electronic drumbeat, giving the South London rapper’s bars room to luxuriate and breathe. Emerging with a de-tuned piano and an almost eerie Super Mario sample – “Lets-a go!” – Giggs’ bassy, ride-along vocals flicker amongst the beat of ‘187’, cutting into the darkly ominous loop. It punches one of the hardest on the album.

‘Nostalgia’, with US emo rapper Lil Yachty adding mumble-rap adlibs, melds gothic synths and wired sound production for an interesting twist, while the sweet buoyant bop of ‘Baby’ sees Giggs bouncing with comically sensual lyrics – you can almost hear him smiling through the bars, relishing his own witty wordplay.

The infectious ‘Mic Check’ and ‘Run Me Down’, with features from Jadakiss and Ghetts, remind us how Giggs’ nonchalant cadence and relaxed flow is often thrown into even sharper relief when bouncing off MCs who deliver their bars with more urgency and variety, or set their vocals at a snappier tone.

That’s not to say solo cuts don’t deliver here – tracks like ‘Baby’ and ‘187’ are more than equal – just a reminder of how well Giggs works with other MCs. 

Later he welcomes back old friend Wretch 32 for the louche hip-hop of ‘Gwop Expenses’ – dropping playful lines like “Shout out to Lethal, watch the Biz”, whose new track ‘Round Here’ Giggs features on alongside Flowdan – then rounds off the record with  ‘Shade’ and its unexpected electronics and funky bass wobbling beneath daunting synths. Production is at the core of this final track, and points to Giggs’ new, more adventurous attitude to beats – something that spills out from the entire ‘Big Bad’ body of work and points to his development as an artist.

Two years was a long time to wait since 2017’s ‘Wamp 2 Dem’, but this record proves The Landlord is still dropping some of his freshest material, flexing some of his biggest, hungriest, and unpredictable moves yet. Giggs, we forgive you for taking your time to complete this masterpiece: it was well worth the wait.

8/10

Words: Laviea Thomas

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