JME – Integrity (Album Review)

jme

JME is a rarity. He’s been making Grime music to more and more hype for a decade now and like his twitter bio says, he’s got ‘No label, No pr, No publisher, No manager, No pa, No stylist, No Instagram, No meat, No dairy, No egg.’. He’s all about authenticity, and as you may have guessed, integrity above all else. As a member of BBK his fan base has grown to adore him for this, being a member who is true to Grime and has proved that over the last 10-15 years.

It’s because of this that a large portion of his new album has him calling out anyone who goes against his ethos. He often sounds like a battle rapper throughout this album basically addressing things that some may deem as petty – like the track ‘Don’t @ Me’ which has him addressing people who hate on him on twitter – yet are bound to get on the nerves of anyone. A lot of the time this sounds like less of an album and more of a series of comebacks to haters and it shows in just about everything on here. Much like a freestyle, JME spends a lot of this album addressing people as you would if you were talking to them face to face. He’s constantly using the words ‘you’ to deliver his punchlines and rarely deviates from that path like he’s fixated on it. Not only that but the way he delivers his punchlines lack the creativeness of someone who’s sat down and tried to think of a witty way to present them. He’s constantly using back similes to get his point across not sounding like someone who’s been doing this for over 10 years and it’s ironic because of the fact he actually calls out the people who use similes on the track ’96 Fuckries’.

As the album cover would suggest you have to take JME’s lyrics with a pinch of salt. There’s a certain satire behind all of his lyrics that undermines how seriously you can take his preaching of integrity. He’s constantly dropping Lil Wayne-esque level punchlines that are funny yet make it harder to take what he’s saying seriously. ‘I came to this planet, a 8lbs caesarean/Now, I’m a badmanarean’ he spits on ‘No You Ain’t’ as one of the many lines that’ll genuinely have you laughing because of how silly it is. ‘You’re tasteless like vegan cheese’, ‘I go hard like old blu tack’ ‘He was smiling ear to ear revving hard, like he’d found a dark Charizard’ are just a few of the lines to appear on this album. It’s moments like these that make the parts of the album that are about petty things or have cliche subjects – such as simply saying why he’s better than someone else – funny, but are detrimental to the more serious topics such as when he talks about money on ‘The Money’.

One of the things that JME is consistent with on this album is his ear for beats. This album brings in an entire host of producers including Mystry, Rude Kid, Teeza, Joker, Swifta Beater, Tommy Kruise, Preditah to create an entire range of dark murky beats. They all sound blasts of energy as most of these songs rarely get any longer than the 3 minute mark. They all stay within Grime’s boundaries most the time yet remain creative like on the song ‘Test Me’ which features synths that sound like they’ve been taken straight from an old Megadrive game. Elsewhere on the album you’ll hear high hats that sound like they’ve been influenced by trap with some rapidly paced tittering high hats. These beats are built to let JME have free-range over the sort of hooks he’s going to deliver which time and time again prove to be winners such as on the tracks ‘Man Don’t Care’ and ‘No You Ain’t’.

Not only that but the production provides a brilliant platform for the multitude of Grime artists that JME brings to the table on this album such as Skepta, Giggs and Wiley. Because although JME holds his own on these tracks, he rarely changes his flow and has no intention of doing so (as he states on the song ‘Same Thing’) which can become slightly repetitive and the guest rappers break this up. Giggs is especially brilliant on one of the best songs off the album ‘Man Don’t Care’.

JME may be one of the most prominent voices in Grime music and he does keep his integrity topically on this album it’s just that at times it’s to the album’s detriment. He holds such a tight grip on rapping about themes to do with integrity yet never actually dives very deep into these themes or gives anything for his fans to actually hold on to. He just kind of stays on the surface level offering us some laughable punchlines on a lot of the deeper cuts on this album. Long term fans and the BBK roster will undoubtedly flock to this album, yet there’s very little here for JME to offer new fans. And you get the feeling that JME really doesn’t care about that. This isn’t a bad project and JME can still flow over a beat better than a whole lot of other people in the Grime scene, there’s just an overwhelming feeling that he could do better.

5.5/10

Best Tracks: Man Don’t Care, Test Me

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