Living The Dream
(Boy Betta Know)
Everyone’s shocked that grime hangs on, but the first wave of MCs stay hungry regardless of whether their pop forays succeed (Dizzee & Wiley) or fizzle. Case in point, Jammer returns three years after his polished yet strong Big Dada outing Jahmanji with Living The Dream, a record as gritty as anything you’d find on a bootleg DVD sold out the back of a van. There’s no Toddla T-produced throwback rave single on here; instead the album opens with a confession that all is not well in Jammer land: “I was in court on New Year’s eve and wouldn’t even give me bail â€¦ and I know a lot of reckless things made me break up with my girl / all the drugs and drink didn’t really go down too wellâ€¦ the labels didn’t wanna help me, I had to go out and do it myself,” an’ ting. The whole disc is full of defiance and bragging about conquests in rugged double-time flows, delivering the unfiltered street talk and explosive mix of ambition/desperation that American rap either can’t or won’t exhibit anymore.
It’s also much more varied than I’m making it sound; “Declined” is a great concept for a diss track about the singular embarrassment of watching someone get their credit card turned down, “On The Ball Pt. 2” is full of playfully pithy then-and-now rhymes worthy of Gucci Mane and “Big Man” is the four-on-the-floor posse cut with enough energy and bristling competition for the best verse between old pals Viper, JME, Flow Dan et al that, had it been on Jahmanji, might have turned Jammer’s best-promoted album into a hit. (Admittedly, the bassline was already a hit for Skepta when it was 2006’s “Duppy.”) But don’t cry Jammer for, because apparently he’ll be hanging in there anyway, chart success be damned. No sell out.