CD Alive Till I'm Dead [PA] (CD 6966845),
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Alive Till I'm Dead [PA]
1. Kids That Love To Dance
2. Just Be Good to Green
3. I Need You Tonight - (featuring Ed Drewett)
4. City Of Gold
5. Oh My God - (featuring Labrinth)
6. Jungle - (featuring Maverick Sabre)
7. Do For You
8. Falling Down
9. Monster - (featuring Example)
10. Closing The Door
11. Where Do We Go
Manufacturer Part Number (MPN): CDV 3080
Personnel: Stephen Sedgwick (programming).
Audio Mixer: Jason Cox.
Photographer: Simon Emmett.
Emerging from the same Mockney scene as Lily Allen, Kate Nash, and Jack Penate, Steven Manderson, aka Professor Green, failed to break through to the mainstream with his unique brand of chaotic, dirty, hip-hop. Four years later and armed with a collection of radio-friendly, hook-laden, and sample-heavy tunes, his debut album, Alive Till I'm Dead, should rectify that situation. Combining the quick-fire delivery of Wiley, the authentic lyrical content of the Streets (Green was previously signed to the latter's Beats Recording label), and the commercial rap of Tinchy Stryder, Green's sound is uniquely British, but like Lady Sovereign's humorous grime-pop, it could easily translate in the U.S., too. Indeed, it's clear from the opening few tracks that Green doesn't take himself too seriously, with his claims of "I'm rap's George Best," on the Kasabian-esque "Oh My God" spoken with tongue firmly in cheek as the swaggering male bravado that plagues many hip-hop albums is counterbalanced by Green's self-deprecating vulnerability, as seen on the acoustic Just Jack-style "Where Do We Go." Elsewhere, the Example-featuring "Monster," with its pop culture references to Pixie Lott, Peter Andre, and Sugababes, sounds like one of Eminem's less-irritating comedy lead singles; "Kids That Love to Dance" is a funky bass-driven number featuring rising R&B star Emeli Sande; while closing track "Goodnight" is an epic jazz-influenced emotional ode to his late grandmother. Of course, the best two tracks here, are the two big singles, the INXS-sampling "I Need You Tonight," and the Lily Allen duet, "Just Be Good to Green," a reworking of the S.O.S. Band classic, both of which provide ammunition for the critics who compare his heavy use of classic songs to the slightly less credible Will Smith. But despite its pop sensibilities, Alive Till I'm Dead is actually far edgier than the more critically-acclaimed of Dizzee Rascal's most recent output. "Jungle," a dubstep-influenced ode to the streets of Hackney, harks back to Green's underground roots, while the minimally atmospheric "Closing the Door" echoes Damian Marley's brooding reggae-hip-hop. Professor Green might have had to wait a little longer for his breakthrough, but on the evidence of Alive Till I'm Dead, he's leapfrogged his contemporaries to become the obvious heir to Mike Skinner's urban poet throne. ~ Jon O'Brien
Uncut (magazine) (p.86) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "[The] rapper brings the obligatory hard-knocks. But he also possesses a shamelessly sharp pop sensibility..."
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Virgin CDV 3080
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