Album: LSK

Outlaw, Sony
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The Independent Culture

First impressions of Leigh Stephen Kenny's second album aren't too promising: the opening track, "The Takeover", is a fanciful tale about bum-rushing the Radio 1 studios, told in excruciating mockney-geezer patois. It's not until you reach the second track, "Seventies, Eighties", that you realise LSK isn't jumping on the Streets bandwagon for real; he's just lightly spoofing its proletarian street cool. "Seventies, Eighties" reveals Kenny to be a sweet-voiced, laconic dancehall toaster with a broader cultural outlook, one established in tougher times, when "Thatcher was in power/ Times were tight and sour/ The letter 'A' was sprayed in a circle everywhere." A fond recollection of the era in question, it features references to Adam Ant, Kate Bush and Magazine, set to a fizzing electro-reggae groove. "Rap Starr" does much the same thing for the early hip-hop era: set to an engaging dancehall lope, it manages to reflect the current affection for old-skool hip hop without adopting old-skool style. Kenny is undoubtedly a sharp, talented rhymer with an ear for the telling detail, but hip hop's solipsistic attitude does tend to restrict his material, with "Stick to Ya Guns" and "Sound System" reminiscing further about his struggles to establish himself as a toaster. But there's enough wit and spirit on Outlaw to suggest that he can think comfortably outside the hip-hop box, too.