Stig of the Dump – Mood Swings LP [[Lewis Recordings]] (Review)

If you profess to be a UK hip-hop head and aren’t aware of Stig of the Dump AKA Stevie Dickhead, then it’s safe to say you aren’t a UK hip-hop head. The man’s impact on the scene is undeniable: from his years spent entertaining crowds in street battles, to boasting recording his superlative The Homeless Microphonist EP in a mere seven days, sleeping in the Foreign Beggars’ recording booth.

Though it’s hard to ignore his larger-than-life demeanour, Stig of the Dump proves he goes far deeper than the boozed-up, potty-mouthed swaggerer he professes to be, and, despite that hoarse, bellowing baritone of his, he displays an incredibly sincere and agile vocal delivery loaded with a slew of loud and trenchant battle bars, punchline flows and a consummate knack for spinning a good story.

His latest LP ‘Mood Swings is, for the most part, produced by Manchester-based Pete Cannon who delivers everything from dusty old-school break beats, intoxicating loops and even a boldly ambitious retro console game soundclip mash-up in the lead single ‘I Got Game‘, lending a edgy technoid aesthetic to an otherwise traditional hip-hop soundbed. Tracks like ‘Back‘ hearken back to a real oldskool boombap vibe and lend this album an earthy feel unique from all the overly synth-driven commercial dross out there.

His personality further distinguishes him from today’s scourge of pretentious pop emcees too: he balances braggadocious floss raps and introspection uncannily well, and whatever the subject he deals with it with a familial bluntness, though I think it’s his hard-nosed lambasting of the music industry such as in ‘I Know What You’re Thinking‘  without even the remotest fear of repercussions that stand out most. Indeed, this isn’t a guy afraid to speak his mind, and love him or hate him, you can’t help but defer to his unflinching honesty and cultivation of immense self-presence. In my view however, it’s the more subtle, meditative moments in ‘Moodswings’ that are most admirable such as those found in ‘Wind the Clock’, a brutally honest exposition of a man’s tortured psyche (one which once even drove him to attempt suicide).

Long-time collaborator and undisputed UK hip-hop legend Dr Syntax features on a couple of tracks imparting his mood-leavening, somewhat self-effacing humour and a similarly honest view of the world around him. F.U. Music affiliate and good friend Enlish also makes an appearance on ‘Planet Hollywood’, but sadly it isn’t one of the album’s best joints which is shame, because I would imagine the two to work seamlessly together, perhaps suiting one another better on a track dealing with more ingrained personal issues.

The album’s only real stumbling block is that it lacks a conceptual thread to connect the various chapters and themes and it thus requires a niche palette to truly appreciate. While it isn’t a perfect release, it will entertain hip-hop fans to the hilt and builds anticipation for future material from the Geordie wordsmith. Though not for the faint-heartened, Stig of the Dump is an incredibly dope underground artist who is surely deserving of mainstream recognition some time soon. His bravura and personality are truly incomparable, and by perpetually wearing his heart on his sleeve, he fills in the album’s occasional gaps with an endless charisma.

Purchase ‘Mood Swings’.

Interview with Stig by Rob Boffard of Beatnik.

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