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Giggs

Like his American gangsta-rap counterparts, Giggs continues to mine his lawless upbringing while alternately churning out hedonistic hits.
July 14, 2011, 12:00am

NWA’s notorious anti-cop diatribes targeted life in South Central LA in the late-80s. Sure, that’s a long time ago. But for the UK rapper Nathanial “Giggs” Thompson, the sentiment still rings true.

Since his 2003 release from a two-year prison stint for possession of an illegal firearm, Operation Trident—a London police initiative that combats gun crime—has taken an unhealthy interest in his activities. On the eve of Thompson’s 2009 signing to XL Recordings, Operation Trident allegedly contacted the label, trying to sink the deal. In 2010, the same initiative called a local venue in advance of a Giggs show to warn about potential violence. Eventually the gritty, deep-voiced rapper found entire UK tours canceled two years in a row.

Fortunately, Thompson is savvy enough to understand that any press is good press. "I just want to thank police for all this great promotion that they're giving me,” he told the BBC. “All these cancellations are making me more powerful.” He’s got a long history of laughing in the face of adversity. Growing up in London’s dodgy Peckham section, he earned the nickname Giggler for cracking up at particularly inopportune moments. Thompson’s raps, though, were anything but lighthearted: On a series of early mixtapes, Giggs honed an ominous style, chronicling hood life in a cold, almost taunting tone.

Since his jail stint, Thompson has sworn off crime and gotten serious about his career. He’s been cultivating viral videos, forging alliances with rap luminaries such as Mike "The Streets" Skinner, and devoting himself to his young son. He’s even founded his own label, Spare No. 1. But like his American gangsta-rap counterparts, Giggs continues to mine his lawless upbringing while alternately churning out hedonistic hits. On the records at least, crime does pay.

You should definitely watch part 2 right now.