Halloween Horror: On Skepta’s ‘Vicious EP’

Dan Adu-Gyamfi takes a look at Skepta's latest EP, 'Vicious.'
By    November 8, 2017

Dan Adu-Gyamfi is ***Kanye voice*** scaaaaaaryyyyyy.

Halloween is a significant day in Skepta’s career in the same way that Gucci Mane holds October 17th close to his heart. In 2014, “It Ain’t Safe” was released on the day of the dead. A mix with the Tottenham MC rapping on popular records at the time was his offering in 2015, and last year, two tracks were our treat. This year, the leader of the tracksuit mafia released the Vicious EP to celebrate All Hallows’ Eve.

In many ways, the origin of this project begins with “It Ain’t Safe.” That record inspires most of the production on the extended play which combines the lo-fi drums of early Three 6 Mafia with the dark melodies found in Grime. Skepta produced the entire project, and it alternates between a solo song and a record with a feature.

It’s interesting that this is the first project in Skepta’s eleven-year career that doesn’t feature any members from his Boy Better Know crew. On “Still,” which has Dev Hines playing a bass riff, Skeppy lets us know what he’s been up to since he released Konnichwa last year. He reminds us of his days as a roadman and how the hustle hasn’t changed even though the product has. There’s a reference to the Nike Air Max 97 that he designed and the many awards that he’s recently accumulated.

“Sit Down” features internet icon Lil B. Skepta shouted him out on “It Ain’t Safe” when he said, “I’ll put you in your place, forreal, you disrespect the clique/ Bang brrrang dang dang, on my Lil B shit.” A couple of days ago, Skepta went on Twitter to provide the unofficial liner notes to the project. The Mercury Prize winner says he made the beat to the song on an aux cord in an Uber while rapping the Based God’s “Look like Jesus” the whole time. I hope that Uber driver got five stars.

The standout record on the project is “No Security” which was last year’s Halloween gift along with the next track “Worst” featuring Section Boyz. “No Security” starts with Malcolm X explaining why he lives like a man who’s already dead. “You murder me I will live for eternity/ if I survive then I’m comin’ for you personally,” is what Skepta says on the hook and you believe him due to how haunted he sounds. The MOBO award winner stated he originally wrote the record to Project Pat’s “Ooh Nuthin” instrumental, then when he realized he had something bigger than a freestyle, he decided to produce an original beat.

On “Ghost Ride,” A$AP Mob members Rocky and Nast make appearances. Even though Drake gave Skepta his own song on More Life, has BBK tatted on him, and even claimed he was signed to the label, Skepta’s strongest bond with North American artists is with the Mob. It traces back to, you guessed it, “It Ain’t Safe,” which has Young Lord aka A$AP Bari on the hook.

“Hypocrisy” was released earlier this year and it’s the most grime sounding track on the record. The cold synths combined with up tempo drums set the foundation for Skepta. The self-proclaimed Nigerian Eagle evens brags about turning down the prestigious MBE, Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, because he doesn’t want to be accepted.

That boast displays the growth Skepta has taken in his career. The days of “Rolex Sweep,” “Sunglasses at Night,” and rocking a purple suit in the “Cross My Heart” video are long gone. Five years ago, he put out the Blacklisted mixtape to go back to his roots after he abandoned his essence to chase the mainstream. Vicious is a celebration where he acknowledges that he made the right decision.

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