Album Review

Peanut Butter Blues and Melancholy Jam

Peanut Butter Blues and Melancholy Jam

by Ghostpoet

Brownswood Recordings
8.8 / 10
7th June, 2011

Reviewed by Kris Taylor

How appropriate the moniker Ghostpoet seems when listening to Obaro Ejimiwe's debut album Peanut Butter Blues & Melancholy Jam. The 'ghost' element lies within the sparse, glacial, atmospheric beats, not to mention the ambient instrumentation and production. The 'poet' lies within Ejimiwe's unique slurred, part rap, part conversational, part sleepy spoken word delivery. These two elements in Ghostpoet combine beautifully and have culminated in an astonishingly realized and striking debut album.

Stylistically the album is wide reaching in its content, spanning trip-hop, hip-hop, splashes of garage, grime and dubstep, and even the odd indie crossover featuring live drums and guitars. More than a few times in the album one cant help but be reminded of Roots Manuva, however, Ejimiwe's style remains his own while staying conscious of his influences, dropping references to Wiley & Gil Scott-Heron along the way. But itís the content that is a mark of difference from so many other UK artists within similar genre boundaries. Within the twelve songs of Peanut Butter Blues & Melancholy Jam, Ejimiwe paints a picture of everyday life as he sees it, without the conspicuous talk about guns, drugs, and crime that can be so overwhelming in contemporary rap and hip-hop. Instead he invites images of the struggle for survival in the everyday, more than a few references to alcohol, education and insufficient funds, and generally fighting for survival. In this respect one cant help but compare his lyrical content to that of Mike Skinner.

'Onetwos' opens the album as an interesting forty second stutter before giving way to the slow, dreamy and surreal blips of the cynical 'Run Run Run'. By the third track 'Us Against Whatever Ever', the listener can really feel like they are starting to grasp Ghostpoet's unique style. Slow and disjointed beats with a single synth line surrounded by bubbling blips that sound as if underwater, all surrounded by a lamenting chorus; part love song, part underdog complaint. And then just when you think you have grasped what the album is about, 'Finished I Ain't' changes everything. Ejimiwe's daring forays into indie cross-overs are a refreshing point of difference with up-tempo live drum sounds, and the odd effected guitar sound popping in and out are somehow perfectly integrated through the album without sounding out of place or forced. Interestingly 'I Just Dont Know' and 'Liiines' have all of the excitement and freshness of early Bloc Party while still retaining continuity.

The incredible thing for me about Peanut Butter Blues & Melancholy Jam is that while the lyrical content can be devastatingly bleak and the instrumentation chillingly sparse and cold, the album remains unavoidably listenable and in a really peculiar way...uplifting. It is something I really cant put my finger on, but through the tales of drunken nights and scraping by with minimal cash, there is a persistence, a dogged vitality and endeavor for emancipation. At times brooding and dark the album contains a spark of what it is to be a broke artist, striving to express something genuine and convey a message about life.

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