UK hip-hop has enjoyed a steady rise in popularity in recent years. It seems to be in the same position that the US scene was in in the late 80s/early 90s, gaining mainstream recognition while still remaining underground and ‘credible’. Where it seems US hip-hop has that one album that everybody points to as a real turning point (I am talking, of course, about Illmatic [because seriously, everybody that calls themselves a fan of hip-hop can pinpoint where they were when they first heard Illmatic]), the UK scene seems to have a number of albums that people reference as the high points of the genre. Skinnyman’s Council Estate of Mind, Roots Manuva’s Run Come Save Me, Braintax‘s Biro Funk. Personally, I think 777 may have the talent to make an album on the same level as those.
Septimal has clever lyricism and witty similes woven throughout. Opening track Sevenius has the same rhyme scheme all the way through, and the following track, Ahead Of The Game, is dotted with the aforementioned witty similes, and this is continued on Standouts, which is also packed with punchlines for the sake of punchlines (and really, why not?). The album also features fellow British up-and-comers (Sonny Jim, Baron Samedi, Dan Bull, amongst others), which is kind of in-keeping with the tight sense of community within the UK scene.
Other standout tracks include 777 vs. Sub, which is a battle-esque track, with the two going back and forth at each other with some very inventive lyrics. The Double Up, Revelations and Britain also seem to stand head and shoulders above the rest, which is no mean feat on an album full of quality music. It has a vein of self-assured cockiness running all the way through it, but it works. Some people are good because they’re self-deprecating, they put themselves down and make good music out of it. 777 is sure of himself, he’s good and he knows it.
The last track, a remix of Keep Me Awake, seems a little unnecessary, but it makes the album 17 tracks, keeping with the whole seven theme. It’s not really a bad track, but it doesn’t add to the record in any way.
So, to go back to the beginning. 777 has the ability to make an album up there with the likes of Council Estate Of Mind and Run Come Save Me, I have no doubt about that. But Septimal is not it. It’s not bad, not by any stretch of the imagination. It’s good. It’s great. According to Myspace, it’s a collection of demo tracks rather than an album written as an album. Meaning, that when he puts his mind to it, the end product should be even better than Septimal. I, for one, am looking forward to it.
The temptation to give this album 7/10 to keep it all related to the second best number ever was almost overwhelming, but it’s too good for a 7/10 and would not be fair at all.