Skepta spoke to Time Out prior to releasing Konnichiwa and the Boy Better Know MC gave some insight on the album and a handful of topics that include working with Pharrell, meeting Drake, finding himself in music, Diddy and more.

‘Man, Pharrell was so easy to work with,’ he laughs. ‘It’s an ego-less room. I was in the studio in my SOCKS.’ Their collaboration came about after Pharrell asked him to appear on his Beats1 radio show. Skepta asked – expecting nothing – about the possibility of maybe, one day, going into the studio together. But only if it wasn’t too much trouble. ‘He just exclaims: “Studio! Dude! There’s a studio next door! Let’s go!”’

Skepta also discusses a phase he was going through by the time his second album, Microphone Champion, dropped. When a close friend of his died, Skepta released a 25 minute video titled "Underdog Psychosis" where he gives inspiration by giving insight on his school life and turning his negatives into positives.

‘After that, I removed myself from the music industry,’ he says. ‘I just thought about what I wanted to say.’ He cues up another track and prepares to play me what he ‘wanted to say’ via his teeth-rattlingly loud car stereo. ‘Konnichiwa’ is 12 songs of ferocious, bassy brilliance, some of which are so good that we end up rewinding them to the start after just 30 seconds (notably the scorching ‘Lyrics’ and ‘Crime Riddim’). But it’s the singles that really leap out. There’s ‘Shutdown’, which urges people to ‘listen to no politician’ (‘The government is a gang and they’re bullying us,’ says Skepta in the car). There’s new single ‘Man’, in which he happily announces that London’s ‘come a long way from the days when whites never used to mix with blacks’ (‘We’re all together at the raves now, it ain’t like when we couldn’t go to Enfield because of racist skinheads’). And there’s an appearance from ‘That’s Not Me’, the slice of retro grime in which Skepta – a man who appeared at number 36 in GQ’s Best Dressed 2015 list – announces that he has destroyed all his Gucci in favour of sportswear (a decision which has seen him leap 29 places to number seven in this year’s GQ Best Dressed list).

He then speaks on what differentiates himself from other Grime MC's.

‘All the other rappers around me aren’t saying anything worthwhile. They’re lost in rap: all they do is tell you they’re a sick MC and they’re better than you. I don’t want to look like all these other little punk, dress-up, fake, manufactured artists. I’m not a rapper. I’m an activist.’

And people who say "Grime is back".

‘People who think grime is back are sheep that follow the media. People who aren’t sheep know grime never went away. There were still raves. Even when I was doing poppier tunes, I’d still take the same lyrics and spit them on a grime beat for the real fans.’

Also, a story of when he last saw Diddy.

‘Me and Diddy went to a pool party. I tried pushing this girl into the water and this guy comes over: “Don’t touch my girl!” I end jumping out of the pool to fight him. Diddy was like: “Skepta, man, just chill!” But I go: “Nah! Who does this guy think he is?” He’s probably thinking: “I’ve seen this crazy shit before [with Biggie]. People die from this shit.” He didn’t stay in touch. I’ve changed a lot since then.’

You can read the full interview HERE.

Listen and download Konnichiwa in full HERE.

Follow Skepta on Twitter @Skepta

Follow on Twitter @GrimeCulture

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TIME OUT TALKS KONNICHIWA & MORE W/ SKEPTA (INTERVIEW) Reviewed by William Henries on 15:03:00 Rating: 5

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