After what seems like an eternity of every news headline reading like an extract from Skeletor’s mood board, the world objectively became a better place last Friday when Giggs’ new record Landlord dropped. As the prized Peckham don announces on the opening track, this album is an "historical event".
With its fourteen rap bangers, a cavalcade of appearances by the likes of Stormzy, Youngs Teflon, Casisdead and more, and verse after verse of Giggs' unmistakable angular flow, you can easily say that Landlord raises the bar on UK rap in 2016 to Olympic levels. But there is also a fuck load to digest here, and I’m not quite sure what it all means. What is a "Whippin Excursion"? How do you "mack with the burger"? And why does the landlord play such a central role? There was only one way to find out.
Cycling up to Giggs’ South London neck of the woods, I decided to head to the root of the record and ask the very subjects of his new album exactly what it means and whether it’s any good. I was going to Peckham to ask its landlords all of the important questions.
Now, we can probably assume – judging from the artwork – that Giggs' meant property landlords, but I decided against speaking to London property landlords because they are a unique breed of evil and vindictive reptile for whom a special circle of hell is reserved. So, instead I decided to hook up with everyone's favourite type of landlord, the type of who might actually end up putting this CD to good use: the Great British pub landlord. Starting with…
MARY, THE CASTLE PUB
Hello Mary. How many stars would you give the album out of five?
Four, I’d say.
What do you reckon?
I like it. It’s as good as that sort of thing gets. I don’t mind hearing this in the bar room, but it wouldn’t go down well in the other room though where us fogies like to have it a bit quieter.
Did you like the bit in "Intro" when he mentioned local places like Lewisham and Tooting?
Bexley too, yeah. That was good that. It’s putting us on the map, isn’t it? So as far as I’m concerned that’s great. Someone’s got to do it, haven’t they?
It’s an album written about landlords in South London and you’re a South London landlord: does this feel pretty much like your soundtrack?
I don’t know, I don’t think so. Didn’t he mention being in jail?
He does, yeah. Is that typical of South London landlords?
I beg your pardon! Cheeky bugger. I was going to say that it’s not exactly written for me, this is for the new generation.
So what would be your soundtrack?
Ooh – good question. I’d have to say Dean Martin’s "Little Old Wine Drinker".
I see. Despite that, can you relate to the Giggs' lyric: "Got the neighbours twitching at curtain, it’s ok though we’re still serving"?
In the pub world, that sounds to me like he’s talking about things like noise control and neighbours. I can really sympathise with that. We’re in a residential area, and I can see with people having smaller children and things why they’d be twitching the curtains. Pubs are loud, but that’s just normal isn’t it? I do try and keep people down, but things are changing and landlords are worried. I can very much relate to that.
Can I get a tagline for the album from you?
It’s alright, yeah – I think it could be a hit.
ANDY, THE NAG'S HEAD
Can I get a quick thought from you while it’s fresh in your mind, Andy?
A quick one, ey? Teenagers’ will love it.
Does it feel like South London to you?
Well the accent, the voice and all that yeah. You can hear he’s a local lad. I’m South London born and bred and I think it sounds quite homely. Anything local is good.
Could you see yourself sticking it on in here?
Yeah, there ain’t nothing wrong with that.
Did the song "501 (Hollow And Heston)" make you feel uncomfortable? It feels like it’s aimed at landlords.
It sounds like the lad has problems with money, really. And we all have those, don’t we? Is he talking about the price of a pint in there? Well, that’s the same whether it’s rent, beer, food, petrol – it’s everything. Not sure whether he should be going off at us about it. He’d be better off lobbying the brewery than going at us – they pass the price onto us.
One for them instead then?
Yeah, give them a kick up the backside!
How many stars are we talking here then, Andy?
EMILY, THE PLOUGH
How many stars does it get from you, Emily at the Plough?
That’s five stars. Five.
Yeah, I like that kind of stuff. That’s drinking, chilling out music.
And that’s the sound of a landlord’s life?
Dunno about that, really. Is that really what he’s singing about?
I think so.
I mean, we couldn’t really play that stuff in here because of the post code.
He’s only from just down the road.
I know he is, but the customers here wouldn’t let me get away with it. Not even on a Friday evening.
What does it sound like to you?
South London through and through. Dirty South, definitely.
What about the cover art?
That reminds me of growing up going to school in Peckham, don’t ask me why.
SANDRA, THE MAN OF KENT
Can you give me your two cents on it then?
This is not our cup of tea.
You don’t think this speaks to the world of landlords?
I don’t think so, no. Why is he writing about all this stuff? Is this man actually a landlord himself?
It’s hard to say. He has been away for a while. Is it hard to make a return to the landlord game when you’ve been away?
Of course. We’ve been here for 15 years and there’s been more change over the past five years than ever before. The game just isn’t the same anymore and if you’re out of touch, don’t know your audience, then you’re in danger of falling apart.
So you think that the time away hasn’t done Giggs any favours?
I suppose not. Not for us landlords anyway.
And he’s not providing the soundtrack.
Not for our clientele. We can’t play rap or AC/DC and stuff like that – we’re a folk bar. You can hear what’s playing now.
So he doesn’t represent you?
No, not my age group. It’s not my era. And we have all sorts of people, we have a lot of fun, we understand what South London is. But it’s not this for us.
How many stars are we talking?
For me, personally, one.
NICK, THE OLD NUN'S HEAD
So you’re the landlord here, Nick?
I mean, I’m the landlord as such: the license holder.
How does this album make you feel about landlording?
Are there any particular moments he mentions being a landlord on this album?
Oh sure, yeah. You just need to read between the lines. So give me a tagline for the album?
This is sinister, quite cinematic. Really aggressive. I’m 37 and my finger is well off the pulse as far as music goes – but that sound is local and it felt relevant.
He name drops places that are really local to here. Is that the kind of thing you think is good for an album?
I mean, I doubt I’d listen to the album myself, but if someone was playing it I’d be amused by it. I like the idea of a kid in Yorkshire romanticising South London.
Does it sound like South London?
I’m not sure it does have a sound. Certainly the local artists I know personally – like, King Krule – have a sinister twist to them, but he’s a lovely lad. He’s my mate’s little brother and a sweet little ginger kid.
Do you feel quite meta right now, being a landlord in South London sat listening to an album about landlords in South London?
I mean, does he mean it as in pub landlord or a landlord that owns a building? It’s two very different things.
It’s impossible to know really, isn’t it?
Well, is that the cover art there?
It’s a high rise flat – I reckon this is clearly about property landlords.
We’ll have to put it down as another one of music’s great mysteries.
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