Release Date: Aug 30, 2011
Record label: Ministry of Sound
Genre(s): Electronic, Pop/Rock
Throwing down the gauntlet to Tinie Tempah for the title of Britain's most inventive MC, Jermaine Scott, aka Wretch 32's sophomore album, Black and White, is anything but the two tones of its title. While most of his grime contemporaries have succumbed to the ubiquitous electro-pop and dubstep scenes, the follow-up to 2008's little-known Wretchrospective stays true to his tough, South London pirate radio beginnings, while still drawing from a whole host of less obvious influences, whether it's the funky bassline from Stone Roses' "Fools Gold" on the Example collaboration "Unorthodox,"; the gospel piano riffs on "Please Don't Let Me Go," or the sinister dancehall of "Sane's the New Mad. " Indeed, given the formulaic state of U.
The UK rappers (Tinie, Dizzee et al) who rap about having fun are successful. Pensive rappers – Roots Manuva, say – tend not to get the hits, however sublime their wordplay. In between are MCs like Wretch 32, one of the nimbler wordsmiths to come out of Tottenham (or, as he puts it: "I raise the bar/ Pole vault/ It's rap athletics"). A grime mixtape veteran, Jermaine Scott combines plenty of chart-friendly tracks on his mainstream debut ("Traktor" and "Unorthodox" have already been hits) with just enough erudite self-examination ("Forgiveness") to warrant more than a passive listen.
As riots broke out across England last week, several commentators felt moved to note the absence of a soundtrack. The pop music of 2011, it was felt, was simply not up to scratch in this regard. Comparisons were made in particular between last week's chart-topper, X Factor alumna Cher Lloyd's Swagger Jagger, and the Specials' 1981 No 1 Ghost Town. An offhand dismissal – but the evidence against it is plentiful.