Release Date: May 6, 2013
Record label: Play It Again Sam
Ghostpoet needs to pull off a pretty big personal best to match the success of his 2011 debut studio album Peanut Butter Blues And Melancholy Jam, which was nominated for that year’s Mercury Music Prize. Taken at face value, the follow-up Some Say I So I Say Light poses something of a conundrum for easily documenting a journey of progression from A to B. Yet Obaro Ejimiwe has somehow evolved while staying the same.
GhostpoetSome Say I So I Say Light[Play It Again Sam; 2013]By Brian Hodge; June 19, 2013Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGTweetHas there ever been a time when musical genres matter less? Once a valuable tool to sort your music library, forcing music through pre-determined genres now feels as antiquated as a Walkman. Take Ghostpoet, for instance. Sure, you could siphon his melancholy cyphers into hip-hop, but the skittering beats and eclectic production certainly skews more towards electronic.
Even with a Mercury Prize nomination under his belt, London rapper Ghostpoet could walk through a crowd of music fans without notice and his albums don't land as much as emerge out of the mist. Maybe it's because his delivery is like Roots Manuva on sizzurp or that the lead single here is "MSI musmiD," which comes off as a Dali dream sequence directed by Man Ray, but deciphering Some Say I So I Say Light is certainly a joy for returning fans. Maybe the album's title references a desire to communicate something brighter or more "up," as the lyrics are more audible here than previously, or in the case of "Them Waters," it's the music that's luminous, as balloons of synthesizer sound pass before the sun as they rise toward the sky.
Ghostpoet really can’t stress strongly enough that he’s not a rapper. Having to make this point time after time in interviews, he tweeted the very day that I sat down to write this review that 'I'll repeat...I'm not a rapper, MC or lyricist...hiphop or any other genre for that matter doesn't mean shit to me.' You can understand why it happens. There are few other pigeonholes for writers or listeners to push him into, but with Some Say I So I Say Light, Ghostpoet further dissolves the labels which you might apply to his vocal style, letting his words melt into the backdrop of arrangements which have become all the more monochromatically urban in spite of further live instrumentation.
That murky world of electronic clicks, ticks and cosmonaut synths that Thom Yorke has been dipping into for years, Ghostpoet lives in for real. The 30-year-old Londoner, real name Obaro Ejimiwe, got a Mercury nod for his 2011 debut, ‘Peanut Butter Blues & Melancholy Jam’, rewiring the Streets’ breezy, early ’00s garage output fora paranoid, post-7/7 London. His new album is a triumph of agitated beats, jazzy keyboards and slurred rap, impressing most on ‘Plastic Bag Brain’, which sounds like Roots Manuva holding Foals hostage in a grimy warehouse.
There's a clue to this album's contents in its title – a phrase that suggests a deeper meaning, if only you could work it out. Ghostpoet is a former Mercury prize nominee whose style is someplace between MC and a performance poet. His flow is highly reminiscent of Roots Manuva, but his lyrics lack the rapper's clarity, bending more towards elliptical imagery and phrases that run into each other without much concession to logic.
Some Say I So I Say Light happens in the back of your head. It’s an often vague, extremely interpretative record, and it does its best job to fuck with what else is lying about in your brain. You will hear Ghostpoet’s Obaro Ejimiwe compare the blood in your veins to a packet of Pringles, and you will feel confounded. The title, though? That’s not an ambiguous title.
Pause on the title a moment. Process. At first it's gibberish. (At least, it's easy for it to seem so.) But reflect a little longer, and Ghostpoet's second album, the follow-up to his Mercury Prize-nominated debut Peanut Butter Blues & Melancholy Jam, is an articulation of escape. "Some say I ….
The first single off Ghostpoet’s second album ‘Some Say I So I Say Light’ - ‘MSI MUSMID’ - is a track based on a dream he had where, to quote the man himself, “dim sum and noodles were life-long friends who kept squabbling all the time… I try in vain to make sense of it all.’That just about sums up the charm and magnetism of Obaro Ejimiwe. An auteur who takes the minutia of every day and creates a universe where tales of regret and fear of a wasted life sound mesmerising. His debut album ‘Peanut Butter Blues And Melancholy Jam’ was a very real world poetically re-imagined, a world of cash and carry shops, hungover loathing and playing Pro-Evolution Soccer.
2011?s Peanut Butter Blues & Melancholy Jam was a definitive statement for Obaro Ejimiwe, better known under his Ghostpoet guise. As debut records go, he couldn’t have really had done it better: it was a phenomenal effort combining elements of British grime and hip-hop, as well as the sparse electronica of James Blake or Burial. It scored him a Mercury nod, support slots with the likes of Metronomy and appearances at festivals nationwide.