“Where man’s coming from is a fucking madness, them little things they used to do to me ain’t got nothing on what was happening in the streets.”
There are few certainties in life: death, taxes and The Landlord’s consistent stream of husky-voiced street tales. With 5 albums and a number of mixtapes stretching into the late teens under his belt Giggs is a mainstay of the UK rap scene. He’s developed a reputation as a spitter who can be relied on to routinely produce large quantities of gritty cuts without compromising on quality. The relentless nature of his output is against the backdrop of equally determined interference from law enforcements and stints in prison that have disrupted his career. Despite said obstructions, Giggs has remained unfazed; he’s hyper-focused in his desire to maintain his UK music kingpin status.
Speaking to him on a melancholic October’s evening, over a phone line as broken as my interest in Brexit, the London MC was enthusiastic as ever as he waxed lyrical about his seemingly effortless approach to rattling out hits. “It’s an addiction. The main thing is always about making music and I’m always ten steps ahead” he said excitedly, “even when ‘Big Bad…’ was out I still had another 10-15 features that hadn’t been released yet so there is always new music coming.”
Having been active and present first hand to see the transition from the days of mixtapes, datpiff and myspace to the Spotify dominated zeitgeist of today, his ability to maintain and arguably become more relevant without compromising his style is impressive. Though his sound has been consistent, the narratives woven throughout his projects have varied and despite his stature he frequently reminds himself of his meandering journey. “I don’t even need to listen to the projects, I can look at them and know exactly where I was, I know all the songs on them. They were all different moments. ‘Walk In The Park’ I was still in the streets, ‘Let Em Av it’ was when I got signed, ‘When Will It Stop’ I just got out of jail again, ‘The Landlord’ I was just hungry you know?”
The enormity of his journey becomes much clearer when asked about the inclusion of Swizz Beats on ‘Big Bad…’, “Before I was even rapping and doing mad things I remember in 2002 driving round in a madness. From Styles P and Ghetts all the way to man shouting out Peckham and Jadakiss shouting out “Giggs” it’s crazy. For me the whole thing is iconic, to be able to make things like that happen.” The respect is mutual and a transatlantic friendship has emerged between Swizz and Giggs. “Man like Swizz won’t be reasoning on the phone about anything to do with music now.”
Despite the increasing muddiness to the phone line, there’s an emerging clarity to the state of UK rap. It’d be hard to imagine the same success for artists like Mercury Prize winner Dave and the inimitable Little Simz if it weren’t for the platform built off the back of The Landlord’s years of persistent graft. The kind of work rate available only to those whose feet are planted firmly on the ground. On extracting advice for the next generation coming through Giggs kept it simple, “A lot of them are my son’s age or not a lot older. If your son comes with his friends and they are doing something you are going to talk to them as well, naturally you are going to feel that responsibility.”
During our conversation he noted he had previously been conditioned by the streets to not answer questions, but you don’t need to interview him to know his intricacies, he’s addressed them in the lyrics. “The music helps you express yourself, it’s a way of releasing pain.”
Gut reaction would say that the aforementioned pain, alleviated by the cathartic power of music is in part related to the London Met’s frequent meddling with his career. However Giggs applies the same perspective that is present when he reflects on his earlier works, disregarding their wayward efforts.
“I’m not really a cry baby like that, where man’s coming from is a fucking madness, them little things they used to do to me ain’t got nothing on what was happening in the streets. When you compare it, nothing is really happening is it? [laughs] No one is getting battered or tortured, it’s just like some things aren’t going my way, it is what it is, just need to get on with it man. Where man is coming from it’s a ‘It is what it is’ kinda place. Are you just going to break down and cry? I knew it would turn around one day.”
This perspective seeps into everything the spitter does; from the unperturbed growls laced throughout his tapes to his light-hearted antics on social media. Giggs’ strong grip on reality had bred nothing but respect.
From his point of view it’s maintaining the fun, authentic approach he’s always had and when detailing his studio sessions they’ve been the same since day one. “It’s always a party, all the mandem there smoking, doing whatever they do, there’s always a vibe regardless.”
He’ll be extending the party across Europe, with his tour kicking off in Dublin I was met with the same laughter I’d frequently scoped on his aforementioned instagram stories when I asked if he’d be enjoying a pint of the good stuff.
“Yeah of course, man’s Jamaican. [Laughs] Even when I was little my mum made me drink Guinness and orange. Them times man was poor and that, it was a diluted orange and Guinness filling it up.”
“With the tour man i’m going to enjoy it, a lot of the hard work has been done and it’s time to enjoy it on stage.”
Giggs plays The Olympia Theatre 7 November. For tickets click here.
Photo Credit: Dean Chalkley