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 

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Joel L‑S is an MC who cares about music which rep­res­ents hon­esty and per­son­al­ity.

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About JOEL L-S

Joel L-S is an MC who cares about music which represents honesty and personality.