Skatta’s new EP ‘Hardships’ is a record that I guarantee will appeal to any grime fan.
A Grime MC isn’t merely characterised by their selection of high bpm production. An MC says things worth saying. I suppose it’s your decision to make if the Hardships that Skatta is referencing on his EP fall under that category, but I don’t really want to know you if you aren’t trying to recognize the importance of speaking up for equality. Skatta has a clear message, he wants to wake up his listeners to engage with the world around them; to recognize that they have the ability to change the destiny of themselves and others. Does this mean that he’s sacrificing vibes? Absolutely not. It appears that his version of empowering action in his music comes from the youthful energy that grime fosters so well.
The opening track under the same name as the EP appropriately introduces you to Skatta. He’s an MC who’s sharing his own experiences with the help of some killer production. If you’ve never listened to grime before then this would also be an excellent starting point. ‘Hardships’ heavy 808’s would be recognizable to any fan of UK drill, the genre which has been so influential on all of UK Hip Hop music in the past 4 years has undoubtedly influenced the sounds which Skatta wants to tell his story to. On ‘Sprayground’ the Coventry MC demonstrates that he’s got creativity with the pen, crafting a meaningful metaphor to do with the sharks [dangers] around him, of relevance due to the sharp teeth that you’ll see on Sprayground’s iconic backpacks.
Homage’ was so refreshing, just MC’s hitting a hard beat back to back to back with a dirty dub hook. Dubstep’s influence on grime is executed excellently in a variety of ways on this EP, ‘Homage’ being only one example. When grime production is mixed as well as this, the drums resonate to make the simple melodies shine bright. ‘We Run Tings’ is a track where all the MC’s are flexing, not about jewels or anything pointless, but about their work rate and how that’s developed their lyrical skills. It’s a blessing that these days it’s kind of normal to hear an MC using the accent of their local area, a signifier of the increased attention which MC’s outside of Manchester, Birmingham and London have finally been receiving in recent years. If you’re hooked by the wide variety of UK accents then you’d be dumb to sleep on this EP. Skatta’s from Coventry, but you’re getting a whole range of interesting voices throughout all of the EP’s features.
‘King Kong’ emphasises positive expression, with Skatta explaining why he’s not trying to glorify violence in his lyrics. He’s concerned with highlighting how it could be easy to define success through object wealth, but this path of greed is not the one for him and that’s why he doesn’t want to glorify it in his music. Crucially, he makes the connection between the object desires that have turned young men like him to crime, encouraging listeners to “set [their] own goals”. The hook for ‘No Machine’ is a bit too monotonous to appeal to me, but that doesn’t mean you wouldn’t like it considering that the rhyme scheme sits well in the ear like every other track on this project. ‘Spooky’ is definitely the undercover gift of the Hardships EP, DJ Kdubz’ production is so intriguing and sets the ideal platform for Skatta to recall his journey as an MC, going back as far as primary school to chart his growth. Neither do the lyrics feel that they have forced the rhymes into shape, like I often feel they do when MC’s are talking about specific parts of their life.
Overall, this EP demonstrates how much grime Skatta has listened to in his life. I instantly recognize his flows as relating to stalwarts like Wiley, but I’m also feeling a bit of Sox off him too, but maybe that’s just because he’s white and has a midlands accent. It’s the soundtrack of what current grime is, taking influence from any and all Hip Hop music coming out of the UK. The production isn’t just there because it sounds good, but they make sense for the essence of each track. Additionally, most of the cuts are less than three minutes long which I think benefits its unrelenting energy; by no means will you feel that it’s an effort to listen to any of the tracks on here from start to finish. There’s depth if you want to focus, but if you want to just zone out, Skatta and his features certainly possess the trance-like delivery which grime fans like myself are addicted to.
On future projects I do hope to see improvement in the variety of Skatta’s flows, they’re tight, but somewhat predictable. His vocal delivery is slightly reserved too, so I would love to see him express his character more in his voice because he has more than enough of it throughout his lyrics.
MC’s on ‘Hardships’
Skatta, LDizz, Kriptik, Clipson, Oneda, Tarju Le’sano, Kriptik, Mac James
Producers on ‘Hardships’
Trap Jesus, Swat Team Beats, J‑Fresh, LawlessProd, Juberlee, OH91, DJ Kdubz