Former ‘Chain Of Command’ member Skandal isn’t just somebody you need to watch out for; he’s someone you need to sprint after and hold onto tightly all the way. He’s torn apart all the boxes everyone tries to place MCs in, laying them down and let his words stomp mercilessly all over them.
Dark Times uses an ironically placed sample from the legendary Sizzla Kalonji’s track ‘Be Strong’. This track truly proves that Chemo's production (which seems to be everywhere at the moment) is still somehow versatile and constantly fresh while being obviously his own. The mark left on every track can only be described as an urban tsunami. Leaving debris of his integrity, diversity and thunderous talent.
Skandal doesn’t ask questions. He demands answers. He doesn’t feel the need to exaggerate or glamorize real life in his lines. So it’s pretty damn impossible to argue with. The grimey, abrasive forward march keeps you entertained and involved. However the lyrics lack extensions – it’s like he makes a good point – but instead of following on and developing it, he just moves on. So good points are lost and it’s easy to forget that whether he intends to be or not – the guy is a philosopher at heart.
He just needs to take it deeper, make it more personal. Not “here’s a list of how many girls I’ve shagged” personal, more of a “this is what I’ve seen, this is what I believe, this is how I feel and this is who I am” kind of personal. Shallow lyrics seem to be something a lot of grime artists feel they can get away with, but it’s also the reason so many hip hop heads find it hard to appreciate grime. Skandal isn’t shallow, he’s just not dug as far as his views show he could.
The grime influence allows him to have more fun vocally. He doesn’t have to stick to the same tone, speed or pattern for long. And, like a dancer who doesn’t stick to one move – it’s a more entertaining performance. Words aside, his style itself keeps us engaged. As for the beats Chemo lays down. Three words. Absolutely fucking spotless. The voice and beats go together like Erik B and Rakim, like cans and nozzles and fingers and glue…
Every time you almost get too comfortable with either beats or vocal, one or both add a new level, switching it up, spinning it round. This hurling of energy, back and forth, to me to you, constantly interacting; is what makes them both so solid.
While the songs may appear dark – they’re not what I’d call pessimistic. It’s not depressing. The more you listen, you see the ideas and intentions following these dark ideas are in themselves strangely inspiring. Skandal is a man secure of his own identity and abilities. Because of this he doesn’t need a front or a category. Because of this he is perfectly confident in leaving the real effect of his music to the people who are really willing to listen. You start, starting at the beginning, going on till they reach the end, but not quite stopping there.
If I had to describe him visually I’d probably use a kaleidoscope. A mass of the same, clear-cut yet indescribable image with a piecing white glow in the centre.
Release date 19th May.