The Professor gets his Jekyll & Hyde on for sophomore offering.
Stephen Manderson, aka Professor Green, returns with the follow-up to 2010’s Alive Till I’m Dead, a debut which established the London rapper as a major player in the UK’s hip hop/grime scene.
Fame though, comes with a price, and as such, sophomore offering At Your Inconvenience is essentially Manderson having a bit of a moan. (Stay with me – this is not necessarily a bad thing!)
The title track nails his manifesto firmly to the wall, and it really is the perfect opener. He’s had it up to here with the pesky press (“I ain’t answering any more of your questions,” he spits). A cracker of a tune, it’s got a killer hip hop beat, singalong chorus, cocky laddish rhymes and screaming electric guitar. In other words, chart magnet. ‘DPMO’ (That’s ‘Don’t Piss Me Off’ to you and me) is more-of-the-same, but doesn’t deliver quite the same punch, resorting to the tired ‘bitches ‘n’ hoes’ strategy often associated with lazy hip hop – “I’m back buzzing/I’d shag Eva Mendes even if she was my damn cousin’. A) Yawn, and B) Eugh.
It’s when Manderson drops this bravado that we see there’s more to him than his cheeky-chappie image. Current single ‘Read All About It’ (featuring vocalist Emili Sandé) is the pick of the bunch, and sees the rapper try to accept his absent father’s suicide: “Just didn’t know what to do and how to deal with it/ Even now deep down I’m still livid/ To think, I used to blame me/ I wondered what I did to you to make you hate me.” Similarly, he bares his soul on ‘Today I Cried’, a guitar-led number where he recalls the tough years before the big signing: “On the way up you might be a person people take to/T hen you break through and the same people who rated you hate too/ All of a sudden anything you may do may make news.”
‘Astronaut’, another girl-sings-emotional-chorus-while-Professor-raps, is a little too hammy for my liking. There’s a pretty decent sample of The Pixies’ ‘Where Is My Mind’ on acoustic number ‘Spinning Out’ though, while Manderson takes a good, ol’ fashioned, cheeky pop at celeb culture (particularly a certain philandering footballer whose name I daren’t utter) in album closer ‘Into The Ground’: “Imagine sleeping with the wife of another/ Imagine sleeping with the wife of your brother… Not even an injunction with a cape can save you.” Nice.
In all, At Your Inconvenience is an impressive mixed bag. There’s more than meets the eye to Professor Green.
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