Release Date: Mar 17, 2015
Record label: PIAS
Genre(s): Electronic, Pop/Rock
Seems like critics posted U.K. rapper Ghostpoet as left-field hip-hop's big hope just two verses into his debut, but the gifted man might really be the genre's Mark E. Smith, even if MC Obaro Ejimiwe doesn't share any of the indie rock frontman's same "quirks." Like Smith's group the Fall, Ghostpoet is outsider music that sounds familiar and yet unique, so unique that to be outwardly influenced by the man's rapid, literate mumble or his hazy, poetic delivery would be to mimic him.
It’s hard to imagine an artist more befitting of their surroundings than Ghostpoet. It’s not just that rough and ready South London drawl which reeks of his hometown – everything Obaro Ejimiwe stakes his alias to comes throbbing with that same hypnotic pulse of every major city. But where previous incarnations of Ghostpoet’s work have been characterised by the jarring electronic soundtrack of a city’s digital revolution, ‘Shedding Skin’ sees him map out his stories over an organic, live band canvas for the first time; in doing so, Ghostpoet has created a record that feels timeless in a way his scratchy bedroom productions could never have dreamed of.
I can still remember where I was when I heard Peanut Butter Blues and Melancholy Jam, the debut album from Ghostpoet, for the first time. I was unassumingly surfing through the indier-than-thou Guardian music pages when I came across a stream, having been directed there by my flatmate. 'Intriguing band name', thought I. 'Terrible album title' went my next thought, quickly followed by 'enigmatic album cover'.
Ghostpoet’s Obaro Ejimiwe has tussled with the challenge of living up to lofty critical expectations since his debut. Album Peanut Butter Blues & Melancholy Jam picked up a 2011 Mercury prize nomination before 2013’s follow-up Some Say I So I Say Light earned two Association of Independent Music award nods. Here, he takes a turn that might alienate fans of the icy, sparse electronic beats that launched his career.
Ghostpoet has, until now, been a gritty realist. Some Say I So I Say Light was an out of body night in; ready meal and a Burial album. The title of his mercury-nominated debut Peanut Butter and Melancholy Jam in itself references a dull domesticity and a strange wistfulness, all topped with Obaro Ejimiwe’s glottal stop, ‘buu-er-nuut’ flow. His indirect, idiosyncratic delivery gave the stories a documentary feel and his electronica sounded like the steely Thames itself: his whole aesthetic felt like the sigh of urban ennui, backed by the ones and zeros of a digital revolution.
Head here to submit your own review of this album. Obaro Ejimiwe's third album as Ghostpoet is not called Shedding Skin for nothing. Whereas his previous two records (2011's Mercury-nominated Peanut Butter Blues and Melancholy Jam, and 2013's brilliantly-titled Some Say I So I Say Light) rode an uneasy wave of sampled strings, tough beats and tuneful bleeps, this record sees him shrugging off these elements in favour of a full-band sound.
After his Mercury-nominated debut, Obaro Ejimiwe’s second album, beset by breakups and self-doubt, felt like the product of a bad hangover. “It was a depressing record,” the south Londoner admitted recently. His third album doesn’t exactly radiate positivity but it does feel like a corrective of sorts, expressing tentative hopes for happier times.