Braggadocios bars, intricate wordplay and exquisite storytelling, brought together by strong production courtesy of Jehst, result in an album of the year contender. Is Kubrick a concept album? Would it even be possible to create a concept album around the work of Stanley Kubrick, a man with a multi-layered, almost cryptic body of work?
I don’t know.
In truth it doesn’t matter, because whichever way you approach this album it impresses.
With a background in battle rap, Stig of the Dump has always been big on schemes and his wordplay is on top form here.
If you’re a follower of Stig on social media, the procrastination-driven opening track, Standard Procedure, will feel familiar. Rolling and smoking is a favoured pastime of the man and rapping about it seems like as good a place as any to start an album. It’s also works as a good introduction to the world of Stig for those sampling his work for the first time.
“I did the same shit I always do / which in turn turned into the track that you’re listenin’ to.”
Production is on point throughout Kubrick and from the blocky computer-game sound of the album opener, we jump into Bom-Ba-Dang-Diggy-Iggy and another layer of Stig’s persona – one that’s twice seen him crowned End of the Weak world champion. The harder beat is steered by put downs and a clear message that Stig ain’t fucking around with half-assed new-school rappers.
“Jesus Christ I’m God-like with wordplay / Second rate rappers get left needing first aid.”
King Grizzly provides us with the always welcome voice of Micall Parkinsun on the hook and a Stig in full flow, reminding us who’s yard we’re playing in.
“Many man act like they are so hard / But they ain’t built for the dojo.”
The second intermission is our first introduction to the scratching of Mr Thing, and his presence continues into the next track, and personal standout, All in Blind. Focussed and as arrogant as ever, Stig goes in hard over a slightly more mellow beat.
“I’ll retire when the wig’s thin / Until then I keep a thick skin”
What a Life kicks off with a “What Are You Doing With the Rest of Your Life” sample and is fitting of the more reflective second half of the album, Stig opting to meditate over a soulful beat.
“Back in school I used to play truent / But when I talk business I’m fluent.”
She is Kubrick’s ballad and the perfect platform for the distinctive voice of Rag’n’Bone Man. The piano-led beat allows the tale of love lost to shine through. This is a side of Stig that we rarely get to hear and one perfectly placed within the album.
“Now it’s over I feel colder and it’s hard to breathe / So locked away the feelings where my demons sit and guard the keys.”
Back-to-back soulful tracks make way for the sci-fi-inspired beat of Broken and a tale of the struggle between creativity and inconvenient real-life.
“I met the devil in a pool hall / He bartered with my soul with every strike of a cue ball.”
The title track, featuring Jehst, is another standout. Production is Kubrick-like in the way it’s layered, while the lyrics pay homage to the man himself and his unwillingness to be placed in any box.
“It’s all gone Kubrik, putting me in a box got ’em glued to the tube colours moving the cube, my flows rubiks, when I do what I do, got yer vision askew, I smoke zoots, it’s all gone Kubrik…”
The closing track, End Credits is a stripped back, spoken word joint in which Stig leaves us to ponder along with some of his inner-most thoughts. It’s a fitting ending to one of 2015’s best albums – one that moves between classic boom bap, glitch hop and full-on experimental in a way befitting of the man whose name adorns the cover.
“Is the glass half empty or half full? / Who cares as long as the bar’s stocked up, because the picture’s less harsh when the edge is blurred.”
By: Gareth Hancock
- Download Kubrick now from Bandcamp: https://stigofthedumpuk.bandcamp.com/album/kubrick
- Stig Interview