Skepta - 'Ignorance Is Bliss' Album Review
No other artist is as universally praised and worshiped in the UK as Skepta. Being one of the few names to make it to other continents, Skepta has functioned as the UK's hip-hop voice for the last few years and while his style has changed in his trips abroad, his commanding bars and cold delivery never left, as Ignorance Is Bliss sees Skepta dipping in and out of his comfort zone on an album that leaves a little to be desired but still provides listeners with a collection of undeniably catchy bangers.
The first single for Ignorance Is Bliss, 'Bullet From A Gun', was pretty much stunning and couldn't have left me more excited, as Skepta spit heartfelt bars about his upbringing, his daughter and his father over a swirling and hypnotic beat. In the context of the album, 'Bullet From A Gun' sets up two themes that Skepta tries to maintain throughout Ignorance Is Bliss, impeccable production introspective lyricism. There's no denying that pretty much every track on here sounds fantastic, as Skepta's wonderful use of simple melodies and obnoxious synths give every track some life, making the album exciting and phenomenally catchy front to back.
But on the majority of the tracklist, Skepta finds himself repeating himself and saying the same things he's been saying for the past 10 years. Now there's an argument to be made that this is who Skepta is and this has always been his persona and honestly I can get behind that philosophy and anyone going into this album expecting an especially conscious or lyrically dense experience will be disappointed. In the short term this style pays off for Skepta on Ignorance Is Bliss as it's near impossible to listen to this album without feeling some sense of awe at Skepta's presence on each track. His braggadocious bars just never stop, injecting life into lyrics that would otherwise get boring but going into each track and dissecting the lyrics on a page doesn't have really have the same effect as many of the lyrics on here are pretty standard and unimpressive. This isn't the case for every track however, as 'Going Through It' portrays a different angle to his braggadocious lifestyle, painting a more somber angle in which Skepta covers up his anxieties with parties and drink emphasising that he "doesn't want to talk about it".
While the lyrics are pretty by-the-books for Skepta, his production across this album is anything but, as he dabbles in different corners of UK hip-hop, from classic garage on 'Love Me Not' (featuring a fantastic sample of 'Murder on the Dancefloor) to hard grime on 'Gangsta' to american trap on 'Animal Instinct'. In all of these cases the production is stellar and (as is one of the perks of producing your own beats) Skepta flows near-flawlessly over every track. 'No Sleep' features these industrial and un-coordinated percussion notes throughout that don't really make much sense until Skepta's voice ties them all together in what is probably my favourite track on here. 'Same Old Story' is a classic grime track with an instrumental that throws it back to old school Ruff Sqwad beats with it's infectious pan flute melody.
I think there are definitely criticisms to be made about Skepta on Ignorance Is Bliss as, lyrically, he relies way too heavily on his track record of hard-hitting flexes in his bars and doesn't expand on the introspection shown on 'Bullet From a Gun' that I was expecting from this album. However, from a purely audio standpoint, Ignorance Is Bliss is an eclectic museum of UK hip-hop as Skepta continues to push his identity as an international artist who hasn't forgot where he came from.
Listen to the album in full below: