It’s Time To Revisit Skepta’s Blacklisted Mixtape

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With the release of ‘Shutdown‘ it’s official: Skepta’s Konnichiwa album will be the grimiest album since ‘Boy In Da Corner‘. The project is shaping up to be raw unfiltered Skepta. But we’ve already had a project like that: Blacklisted. It’s probably the most underrated project he’s released and arguably the best project Skepta’s ever released.

Blacklisted is a retail mixtape and dropped without any pre-release hype. What it did drop with was a 25 minute video featuring a no frills Skepta talking to the camera about his childhood and something he calls the ‘Underdog Psychosis‘. The video is timely and references the 2011 London Riots and while never endorsing it, Skepta gives an insight into the mindset of some of the young people who were involved in the looting. He also reveals that he was held back in primary school because he was too advanced for the year but too young for high school. A move that was detrimental to his academic career. The video is uplifting, encouraging young people who feel they have no future to destroy that mentality. It’s also far from preachy. Skepta wears a grey hoody sat on a sofa. No make-up, no editing, just Skepta revealing parts of himself likely only those closest to him would know.

The music is every facet of Skepta but without compromise. The track ‘Castles‘ captures the message of the accompanying video perfectly. Putting Riff Raff’sVersace Python‘ instrumental too great use, Skepta discusses his experience with the underdog psychosis.

‘Too much TV, too many newspapers got a nigga thinking evil/ Got me thinking I’m looking at my enemy when I’m looking at my own people/ Notice when a white man looks at my watch I think he’s trying to pay me a compliment/ When a black man looks at my watch I think he’s trying to knock my confidence/’

Despite the instrumentals dream-like quality, the content feels relates to a feeling of looking over your shoulder. Skepta references walking in a shop to buy a drink but being watched like a suspect:

Underdog psychosis spreading around in the hood like flu/Security guards follow me around like I ain’t got £2 to pay for my juice’/

It’s undoubtedly a feeling many face everyday and opens the discussion to a feeling of hopelessness amongst the country’s young people. The feeling permeates the rest of the tape and appears on tracks like ‘Mastermind‘. The instrumental feels isolated as Skepta loses the comedy from his punchlines and is more menacing. But not through idle threats as if he’s trying to impress. It seems as if no matter how successful you become, the same problems will always be there.

The concept comes full circle on ‘Two Plus Two Pt. 2‘. The track opens with BBK’s Shorty passionately discussing loyalty, before Skepta delivers a sing-song chorus about the subject and what loyalty means to him and BBK. JME is also on the track to bring balance to the track giving it a more positive spin. The track and the mixtape perfectly encapsulate the feeling of being an underdog in England and as if you’ve been Blacklisted from the very place you call home.

Check out Blacklisted now (and Community Payback is pretty great too) to tide you over till Konnichiwa drops.