the guv’nor returns: giggs plays us his new album
Here's everything you need to know about Landlord, which co-stars Swifta Beata, Stormzy and CASisDEAD.
It's been three years since his last release, but Peckham's Giggs has been far from quiet. As well as three mixtapes, there's been collaborations with Chase & Status, CASisDEAD Fekky, 67, JME (Man Don't Care) and Kano's multiple-reload-worthy 3 Wheel Up's alongside the Godfather of Grime, Wiley. Now it's all about Hollowman, as his fourth album solidifies Giggs as UK's rap's own Overlord; reliably sinister, darkly humorous and littered with both alliteration and Gigg's infamous ad-libs, The Landlord is an addictive listen, revealing layer upon layer of lyricism with each play. Earlier this week, Giggs himself popped by i-D HQ to share the very first listen of the album, which is out today. Here are 10 things we learnt about Landlord and the man behind the bars…
1. He has just discovered pop chips...
Giggs rolled into i-D baring Lucozade, wine gums, chocolate and a couple of packs of Katy Perry's favourite crisp. "These are 'ard still," he noted. "[My manager] Buck put me onto them. I've never heard of them before."
2. He didn't want to play us the Intro in person.
"You should listen to that on your own," he grinned. The album's opener is a dramatic piano-led look at the up's and down's of Gigg's tumultuous career within road and rap. "Thank god for this rap shit, yeah the rap was soothing / So I said, ok, and it's back to music / Now I was still in the trap, I still wrapped up units / Dropped Walk in the Park, got banned from radio / Then I went jail again, now I'm back to do this."
3. We can thank the Section Boyz for the album title.
"That was [Section Boyz'] Swift Section that called me that on Twitter one time. He called me 'the Landlord' and I just liked it. I decided that it should be the name of the album, it just seemed fitting, you get me, I fucked with it. It's a nod to me in general as a person and some things that I have achieved. I've got lyrics on tracks like The Blow Back like, "Shit's changed, I'm going shops in pajamas / Just jumped out of bed, heard a knock from the gardener…' It's like a whole different lifestyle now; I'm a big boss innit."
4. Landlord features everyone from Donae'o to Youngs Teflon, Kyze and CASisDEAD, who is found on the Swifta Beata banger 501 (Hollow & Heston)…
"When I first listened to CAS years ago, I could tell he was proper in the trap. I ain't heard no one in grime talking about selling drugs the way he does. You can hear that some man just dabbled with it; you know when a man dabbles with it, that's what he does. But CAS talks about it deep. Like there's one lyric when he's saying the cat has rung him and he's like 'So what if I'm fucking late, that's what I fucking hate, I told you to fucking wait'. You can tell he's actually had that phone call, the cat has rung him and he's told him to fucking wait. I could hear that. I said, I like this brother's music; he's good (laughs). He can be very dark but the darker side of things is just him being funny. He's like Eminem; he's not actually kidnapping, raping and tying up people, it's him being funny. I was trying to do a full mixtape with him. I weren't gonna do this album, I was gonna do a mixtape with CAS, but he is the hardest breh to get hold of. To get him on this album, it's non-stop ringing. You got to be dedicated to get CAS (laughs)."
5. To Stormzy and Dubz on The Blow Back, who he enlisted for 32 bars, rather than the standard 8 or 16.
"You know why? Because I'm just a cat. Obviously I'm a Stormzy fan, I'm a Dubz fan so when I'm getting them on the project, I want to get as much as I can. Obviously I can get them to do a 16 but I wanna hear them murk for longer. When a man lays a 16, he's just getting warm. By the time you get the 16, Stormzy's just getting going, so I like to draw that out of man and get the best out of them. Fuck how long the song is [it's 6 minutes and 4 seconds]. Stormzy is hard, he's hard man. I just know him through the music, I didn't know him from before. He brought the excitement back; he actually came through when it was getting exciting. It was exactly the right time for him to come though. Dubz I knew from someone I was in jail with. I told him to bring Dubz and Paige down to jump on one of my mixtapes, and Paige never come but Dubz come. He jumped on the tune and then we done another; the chemistry was just there. He is so talented, you know them people that are just mad talented but you gotta drag them to the studio. That's Dubz."
6. Giggs says his albums aren't a one-listen affair.
Like a fine wine, the Talkin' The 'Ardest rhymer's records take time to mature. "Some people get it straight away but, some, even the proper Giggs fans, might not get it right off. There's a lot of layers in my lyrics, which is also why people might get it late. I'll say, 'I'm stepping in my boogs' so they might not feel the bar as much if they don't know what I mean by boogs. But that's how I talk; I rap exactly like I talk, so if you are interested then you will try and work it out. We had to do it with American rap. We didn't know half them words, but you research it because it sounds so good, so you want to know what it means."
7. One of the SN1 spitter's favourite words is 'easel'.
He's hard pressed to pick his very best word, and he doesn't do a dictionary, but Hollowman likes his linguistics. "I don't study words but there are loads of words in my head now that I didn't know I knew, if that makes sense. And I know what they mean. That's why the mind is a mad, crazy thing. I love the sound of certain words. Buck thinks I'm crazy when I talk like this, but I think there are so many words that just sound sick. Like Dubz on this album, he said 'easel'. He said, 'The only thing that's missing is the easel'. That's a sick word. It sounds weird but I do love words."
8. When it comes to girls, Giggs doesn't have 'relationships', he goes through The Process.
It's absolutely not at all awkward listening to Giggs talk about sex when he's sat right in front of you. Honestly, it really isn't. Anyway, The Process is Giggs' version of a love song. Sort of. "Yeah, that song, it starts when you see the girl, when you first start linking, the first beat. Chilling the next morning, watching telly, nice and quiet and then a couple years later you walk out because she's pissed you off, you get me. That's why I call it the process because that's how it always goes; you meet, you beat, you love, you argue, you break up. Then you go for it all over again." Talking of relationships, the father of two has clear plans for his daughter's future career. "She's gonna be a nun," he laughs. "I've got some cousins that are proper into church. One of them is already married so I'm gonna make her roll with them. They're gonna come round and condition her."
9. Giggs shows a certain amount of vulnerability on the album, particularly on tracks like Just Swerving.
The track contains bars like "Tell you what, it feels shit to be lonely" and "Back then I was low, just literally coping". We guess a man can't be Hollow the whole time? "The beat bought that out of me, I heard it and felt emotional. It's just one story of many, just some real shit," he muses. "Life is different now, but it's still the same, do you know what I mean? I have removed myself from a certain way of life, but things are still happening, I just choose to not pay attention to it anymore. Otherwise, you can be one of them man who's 40 or 50 still reppin' the ends. When you get older, you don't feel like you are getting older, you still feel the same as when you were 19, so when you're reppin the ends you're not realising the clock's ticking. I had to remove myself from it, you know."
10. Basically, Landlord is great and we can thank Giggs for approaching it like Mary Berry in the Great British Bake Off.
"For me, making an album is like making a cake with all the best ingredients. I see music like ingredients and I see the scales. So when I first made all the songs that are 'ard, bare 'ard, I was thinking, right I need something for the girls, I need some emotional shit to balance the scales. That's how I see it in my head, it's weird, but that's how it all just comes together. I used to DJ, so it's just a good mix of tunes that I would want to hear. That's what I try and deliver with each album."
Landlord is out now
Text Hattie Collins