Remembering Things

Looking Back on the 10 Underrated Moments of Giggs’ Career So Far

With new album 'Big Bad', it's clear the UK rapper is a legacy act – one who bridged the gap between UK and US, and influenced hundreds.

by Jesse Bernard
25 February 2019, 1:11pm

Photo credit: Dean Chalkey

As the story goes, Giggs earned his name from the way he used to laugh and giggle, which he hasn’t been able to shake since. But over the years, his achievements have reflected his prowess as an MC – especially during his XL Recordings days, where he released arguably three of the best UK rap albums of all time, Walk in Da Park, Let Em Ave It and When Will It Stop.

Over the past decade, Giggs has proven himself not only as a cornerstone of UK rap but also a clear conduit to US rap. You can hear that clearly on his most recent release, last Friday’s Big Bad, which features collaborators from Swizz Beatz, Wiz Khalifa and Lil Yachty to Jadakiss. He also walked so today's young road rappers could run. As we look back on his career, it’s clear his influence on the evolution of UK rap has paved the way for a new generation of rappers – from drillers telling stories about “putting skengs on peds”, to youngers paving their own path, to, pretty much, in fact, influencing the entire spectrum of contemporary UK rap: the whole melting pot of it.

Really, what I’m saying is: Giggs has achieved enough in his career to be considered a legacy artist. However, it’s each of these milestone moments, whether big or small, that have added to his highlight reel. When it’s all said and done, and Giggs hangs up the gloves in the future, he’ll be recognised as one of the finest MCs to come from these shores. Here are some of his stand-out moments – some obvious, some less so.

His Collaboration with Skepta on “Look Out”

When “Look Out” was released on Skepta’s 2009 album Microphone Champion, Giggs’ own Walk in Da Park had only been out a year. Although, the production sounds a bit dated, it was not just an example of Skepta’s versatility but, with the addition of Giggs, an indication that the future for UK music was road rap.

Recording "Talkin Da Hardest" after two years of rapping

Two years isn’t necessarily a long time to go from never having made a record to releasing one of the most iconic UK rap songs of all time. After his release from prison in 2005, he began rapping as a hobby. In 2007, he would go onto record and release “Talkin Da Hardest”. Ok, so this isn't underrated at all is it – literally every line in this is a quotable, whether you’re diving in with those three about Armani, charlie, punani or pulling trigger fingers or a “jheeeez” when that line about being “covered in red like a portion of chips” pops up. As moments in UK music go, this song has to be in the top 10 of all genres, everything. It’s iconic. We had to include it in this list, 100%.

His early life as a DJ

Much like Skepta, Giggs began his career in music as a DJ in Peckham as he once stated in his NFTR interview back in 2016. The records he was mostly spinning back then were predominantly reggae, dancehall and ragga but DJing provided a segue into what would be a promising career as an MC. You’ve gotta know about your music if you’re gonna start spitting over it.

Winning Best UK Act at the BET Awards in 2008

Giggs was in a category that also saw Chipmunk, Ghetts (then known as Ghetto) and Skepta also nominated for the award. Any one of the latter three could’ve won, especially considering Chipmunk had already had his breakout moment, Ghetts had built considerable momentum off the back of Ghetto Gospel and Freedom of Speech and Skepta had released his first chart success “Rolex Sweep.” But nah: in hindsight, none of these moments were as culturally impactful as Giggs’ “Talkin’ Da Hardest” Once again: jheeeez.

Hopping on Bun B’s "Return of the Trill"

Giggs’ feature on Drake’s More Life cut “KMT” in 2017 opened up a whole new frontier for the Peckham rapper to explore. After all, Drake's playlist opened Giggs up to North American audiences who'd never necessarily heard him before. So, it wasn’t completely a surprise when Bun B later called on Giggs’ services for his record “Never Going Back,” off his 2018 album Return of the Trill. Here, Giggs’ flow and rhyming style takes cues from the southern rap styles Bun B has been known for over the past 30 years. Their collaboration symbolises how trap music has grown to be a transatlantic sound, regardless of its different interpretations on both sides of the pond.

The controversial interview with DJ Vlad

At the beginning on 2017, Giggs was interviewed by DJ Vlad in what should have been, fairly routine promo for the upcoming “KMT” record with Drake. Giggs has often been very open about his past experiences in the justice system, and expressed those in his lyrics – but Vlad was insistent on pressing the issue. Luckily, SN1’s finest didn’t take the bait, saying: "I just care about the music to be honest. I’m not really into trying to show that we’ve got gangs and guns and shit. That’s bullshit. I want to talk about success and getting away from that fucking shit!”

Oh and remember that Mark Ronson collab?

Sure, the soulful rock-led production was a diversion from the dark, ominous beats Giggs is known for but his work with Mark Ronson also showed a much more fun and laid back approach. And that diversity is something that's only added to Giggs skillset. Remember his verse on Lily Allen's "Trigger Bang" from last year?

Then there's his work with soul legend Anthony Hamilton on “Mr Kool”

It’s only fair that “Mr Kool” gets an honourable mention alongside Giggs’ work with Mark Ronson, simply because the former is a completely unexpected collaboration with US soul singer, Anthony Hamilton. Produced by the J.U.S.T.I.C.E League, the record had a strong Southern DNA and felt as though it was an ode to 70s soul through Anthony Hamilton’s feature. As far back as 2013, it was clear Giggs was in his own class of UK rap.

The song he recorded with his son

For all of his reputation as master of brooding beats, Giggs has plenty of heartfelt, introspective cuts too. You need only listen more attentively to hear that, on a track like “Little Man and Me.” As the title suggests, he wrote the song for his son, expressing how much he loves and supports him, despite the struggles he faced as a young father. But what made the track particularly special was the fact that it included his son, ML and proved he was more than a one-dimensional MC.

Hollowman Meets Blade

Before Walk in da Park and “Talkin Da Hardest”, there was Hollowman Meets Blade – a joint mixtape effort between Giggs and Blade Brown. The mixtape spawned a few street anthems such as “Explanation” and “Sink A Boat” and its success on the streets led to Giggs being signed to XL Recordings shortly after. While Blade Brown didn’t capitalise on the moment quite like Giggs, the mixtape is a reminder of a time when the future was still uncertain.

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