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Stig of the Dump Mood Swings Review

Album. Released 2010.  

BBC Review

The prize-winning battle-rapper comes good on record.

Adam Kennedy 2010

As an overweight, formerly homeless Geordie wordsmith, Stig of the Dump’s unusual status has, at the same time, led to a certain degree of typecasting in his hip hop field of one. His cult following has come to expect a leery, beered-up, larger-than-life persona delivering sidesplitting punchlines honed as a prize-winning battle rapper. Mood Swings goes a good way toward busting out from such constraints, though, snapping the chains shackling many UK peers as he goes.

Stig sets the tone early, dispensing with the hackneyed hip hop methodology of skit-based intros in favour of two and a half minutes of post-Bill Hicks stand-up Doug Stanhope’s near-the-knuckle comedy routine. There’s a brief regression, I Got Game’s raw locomotion failing to vault the age-old trap of merely rapping about rapping, overflowing with empty – if cerebrally constructed – similes. Fortunately, Stig soon picks up the slack.

There is a deal of contradiction in declaring "I’m the sexiest fat man in showbiz" within Give It Up, before immediately asking us all to "get past the appearance" in I Know What You’re Thinking. Yet the latter’s insistent hook morphs it into an unlikely anthem almost on par with Mike Skinner’s semi-genius off-key choruses as The Streets. The production hits the mark here, too, steamrollering dusty beats to take tracks on forward-thinking journeys without fully jumping on the dubstep bandwagon a la countless lesser/struggling UK MCs.

Hater, meanwhile, seethes so passionately that inevitable parallels with Eminem’s self-loathing and unrepentantly politically incorrect streams of consciousness exceed lazy white rapper comparisons. Speckled with genuine moments of naked vulnerability, it’s a world away from I Got Game’s puff-chested bluster, and immeasurably more compelling for it.

Mood Swings doesn’t quite alter the fact that Stig of the Dump’s battle rap skills remain superior versus any record he’s released to date – having scaled the peaks of the former calling, realistically that may always ring true. What it does manage is to smartly showcase the increasingly rare noise of a British rhymer marking his card as both entertainer and songwriter, without chasing chart glory or pandering to fads.

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