Bristol based Datkid joins forces with Exeter based producer Skinzmann on his fourth album (or fifth depending on what your counting) and their first collaborative body of work released on Split Prophet Records. They had previously teamed up on Skinzmann last release Incognito Grinders (2019) but this is the first whole project they have worked on together, Datkid also released Confessions of a.. that same year which was well-revered by the fandom. This new venture is an 18 track rap-trap-grime foray into the world of the Crud Lord, all entirely produced by Skinzman at Titanium Audio Studios (Pinhoe) and includes a cherry picked selection of features across a vast range of sounds that’ll give your subs a good run for their money, the bass design will definitely get you noticed in your car whilst driving down the high street, put it that way. Datkid has been known as someone who can write solid 16’s for days but on this new album it feels like a real shift from ‘spitting bars’ to ‘writing songs’, not to take anything away from his signature delivery of hard hitting lyrical-hilarity but rather an observation of how everything feels nicely structured, including harmonising (dare I say it, singing), female backing vocals, fleshed out skits and additional organ playing, yes by Datkid! It’s all very intriguing and definitley feels like a fresh perspective, with the duo willing to try out something new. The album’s namesake comes from the many sleepless nights in the North East Exeter studio, it could also be construed as a nod to the engineers of the past, like ‘No Sleep Nigel’ for instance, a tribute to those who work late into the night trying to complete these renditions, regardless of how many solar cyles roll past. The pair have solid foundations in the scene, with a boastful back catalogue of bangers, so the new release is clearly steeped in anticipation but how did it measure up to previous works, we bunked the train to Pinhoe to find out..
The album opens with ‘Corrupted’, Datkid’s gravelly tones blend into the heavy bass and sparse but well placed keys with a catchy hook that’ll have you singing out loud with a snarl on your face.
“I smoke the lah, pour the liquor down my chin, they’re trying to hold me down but they’re p*ssing in the wind, they say i can’t be trusted cos of my corrupted demeanor but f*ck it, I don’t trust them c*nts either”
The titular ‘Sleepless in Pinhoe’ has a series of backwards samples that interlace with layered bass and builds nicely around Datkid’s punchline pugilism, this track really gives off a Fu-Schnickens vibe, who remembers ‘Visions (20/20)’? Halfway through the song the beat is flipped on it’s head, almost like Tenet (I thought this was a good movie, how about you?) where the backwards beat and forwards beat meet in the middle, slows right down and dresses it up with some Datty decadent double time delivery, it’s a nice switch and includes a slick looking video by Parrallel Media. It’s also praised by Canadian Dad Reacts (a UK hip hop enthusiast and YouTuber based near Toronto), who describes the production as having a ‘Unique Strangeness’, he then goes on to anatomize the wordplay, definitely worth a watch.
EDITOR’S NOTE: While writing this review, some kind of hacking went on with the Split Profits YouTube channel and as a result it was removed, including the video for ‘Sleepless in Pinhoe’, the channel had over 30K subscribers and nearly a decades worth of work, memories and achievements. In order to get @youtube to take this seriously, can everyone please write a post demanding the channel is found and reinstated immediately, since it is a louder voice when many unite to speak.
For now we have added the Canadian Dad Reacts video, which we will hopefully be able to replace with the actual music video for ‘Sleepless in Pinhoe’ once the channel is reinstated.
‘Get That’ features previous collaborator Mr Traumatik and Harawai, a nice harpsichord sample stretches over deep rolling drums, punchy b-lines and lively delivery, there’s reference to ‘Bitcoin’, which makes you wonder whether the future of Hip Hop could be a shopping list of desirable crypto currency, an intreresting thought. ‘Incognito’ follows suit with a hook handled by Skinz (he provides more across the album), midi voice samples, brisk sounds and a notable performance by Joe Burn on this one. ‘Poison’ is a song about broken relationships, ‘we can’t be civil’ croons Datty, it features a show stealing Datkid who sings the hook, backed by Lucy Megan, this is a great entry and one of the stand out tracks. He effortlessly switches from singing into spitting bars and also plays additional organ on the track (he provides organ on ‘Watch My Company’ also), he has really come into his own on this one, impressive.
“no sleep, no rest, eyes puffy like deebo’s chest, can’t f*ck with me like i need no sex, sh*t’s dead like you don’t breathe no breath”
~ No More Fun and Games
Other noteworthy mentions include ‘Infamous’ which features an overzealous Manlikemally who literally chews the scenery on this one, a great addition to the roster. ‘On The Block’ features Wyatt Earp and R.B. alongside the pair, the track mentions ‘The Hillside’ which refers to the council estates Datkid and Skinz both lived on growing up, all being on hills in each town/city for example; South Mead Bristol, St Andrews Cullompton and windmill hill, Glastonbury. This entry has great pacing and energetic flows that compliment the overall vista of sounds, it’s also worth mentioning that the cuts on the album are all provided by DJ Roguezilla.
There are various skits throughout, all in the form of left messages on Titanium Audio’s voice mail that progressively get more ridiculous, featuring anything from getting arrested and needing pickup, to a bizarre shopping list request that includes rubber chickens and sledge hammers, this adds to the narrative tying the album together and providing some decent comic relief. It’s good to see artists use skits as a story telling medium again, really adds something when spliced into the recipe.
This is an exceptional release filled with great production, wordplay and hyperbole, it includes unexpected singing mixed with abundant punchline rap where Datkid consistently and effectively delivers on every level, the duo have definitley raised the bar on this one, you need this in your collection.
‘Sleepless in Pinhoe’ is out now on all digital channels, make sure you grab yourself a copy now.
As always these are just my opinons but what did you think of the album, Tweet me your thoughts and let me know what else I should be listening to.
Words by Theo Specone