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All In Denzil Bell , August 6th, 2021 08:05

All In may be Skepta's last record, but if so he's going out with a bang, finds Denzil Bell

“I have one more song with Bando and Lz that we also recorded in 2020, after we drop that I’m out...”

That recent Instagram post suggests this might be Skepta’s last project, so make sure you take in this review with your eyes pressed to the screen.

The name All In comes from the many poker games Skepta and his crew were playing to pass the time during lockdown. With the title he is basically saying this is everything that he has left in his cupboard – something he also mentioned recently in a BBC 1xtra interview with Tiffany Calver. And yet, rather than just throwing out his final few tracks as an artist, he’s using this release to lay the foundations for his career going forward.

The EP showcases influences from various parts of the world that he’s absorbed during his two decades in the scene, travelling the globe and spreading the grime culture. Skepta moved to New York for some time to push his career forward and in turn propel the UK rap genre further. ‘Peace of Mind’ is an example of Skeppy utilising his American network, with him linking up with Kid Cudi for the drum-heavy trap vibe, which also features upcoming Nigerian artist, Teezee. The African party continues on the JAE5-produced ‘Lit Like This’. For those who don’t know, Skepta is a chief in his family’s village in Nigeria, so bringing through Afrocentric sounds comes easy to him, especially on this one. And he truly takes it global with the J Balvin-assisted, ‘Nirvana’, where the whole Latin/reggaeton aura shines through bright. Thankfully, Skepta doesn’t forget his grime origins. On the project outro, ‘Eyes on Me’, he samples More Fire Crew’s ‘Oi’, which is one of the foundations of the establishment that we call grime.

This is the moment where he stakes his claim for being the top guy now. The EP as a whole serves as a kind of job application – he's talked of becoming an executive producer for artists such as Rihanna, and this release underlines the fact that he’s more than capable of bringing together talented artists from all four corners of the world to create a diverse set of sonics.

As he is drawing to the end of his career as an out-and-out rapper, these ambitions come as no surprise. Skepta arrived in the game as a DJ twenty years ago, a background kind of a figure. Watching him climb to the pinnacle of UK Black music has been an incredible sight for those of us who witnessed the journey from start. As Skepta switches his job title from music man to product don with a list that includes trainers, football boots, and perfume, he's become the Jay-Z of the UK. Let’s just hope he makes his regal return, like Jigga did with Kingdom Come.