A broad, slick return, one that boasts a broad array of guests...

KSI’s entrance into rap sparked one of 2020’s most divisive debut albums. For all its commercial success, ‘Dissimulation’ faced a backlash, with the Youtuber viewed by cynics as having bought his way into the game. The criticisms were unfair, however; KSI’s deep love of music was undoubtedly sincere, and his penmanship was surprisingly strong.

‘All Over The Place’ follows hot on the heels of his controversial debut, and the project’s breadth and diversity definitely lives up to its title. A record that doesn’t move in any one direction for more than one song, it can offer street level braggadocio – ‘Number 2’ features Future and 21 Savage’ – before touching on chart friendly deep house (‘You’) and UKG moves (‘Don’t Play)’.

A record marked by diversity, ‘All Over The Place’ is held together by its makers ambitions. There’s a feeling of really putting himself to the test; KSI won over the doubters with his lyrics on debut album ‘Dissimulation’, but its follow up pushes his voice into unfamiliar places. - It doesn’t always hit home. There’s an emphasis on the slick, which can sometimes grate; ‘No Pressure’ is a dancehall burner that fails to ignite, while ‘Holiday’ may be sincere, but its lyric is a little cloying.

That said, there’s still more than enough here to keep the haters at bay. ‘Silly’ is an emphatic Bugzy Malone hook up, while the Anne-Marie / Digital Farm Animals hosted ‘Don’t Play’ is one of the better chart-friendly takes on UKG we’ve heard – a real summer soundtrack, it’s a sure-fire chart scorcher.

With Craig David aiding ‘Really Love’ and Lil Durk on ‘No Time’, the broad array of co-signs at play here are testimony both to KSI’s ambitions, and also his ability to win over his peers. Actually an incredibly sincere artist – music was always a part of his YouTube persona, after all – there’s a sense of someone living out his dreams, creating a wish-list of collaborators and then watching them all roll in.

‘All Over The Place’ swaps the focussed UK rap of his debut for something broader, balancing soulful guests and slick production in the process. While not everything here excels, it’s a bold record and cements KSI’s place as a key player in UK music.

7/10

Words: Robin Murray

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