Ghostpoet – Peanut Butter Blues and Melancholy Jam (Album Review)
Ghostpoet – Peanut Butter Blues and Melancholy Jam
To align the sound of Ghostpoet’s full-length debut with any one genre would be misguided, for here lies an album of craft and creativity that spans the worlds of hip-hop, trip-hop, dubstep and beyond. It’s found a natural home on Gilles Peterson’s prestigious Brownswood label, an apt collaboration with an imprint known for championing sounds from the blurred edges of contemporary music.
A childhood spent rebounding around London, Coventry, Nigeria and Dominica has certainly provided Ghostpoet (real name Obaro Ejimiwe) with a diverse pallet from which to draw. His vocal style – so comfortable in its own skin – has already made fans out of the likes of Mike Skinner, and the approach on PBBAMJ is pitched somewhere between Roots Manuva’s melodic talk-rap and Skinner’s own languid chatter. The delivery of his drawl may be lethargic in manner, but Ejimiwe’s lyrical observations are razor sharp, aided by his own intelligent and engaging production. Beats that sound like they’ve been fished from deep moonlit swamps shiver and pulse beneath Ejimiwe’s tales of regret and fear of wasted life, his Ghostpoet moniker consistent with the spectral semiotics of the album as a package: imagery, sound and text in perfect balance.
Obaro Ejimiwe, AKA Ghostpoet
Opener One Twos/Run Run Run lays down the album’s blueprint with smoked out keys and delayed vocal couplets, a refrain of “run away/be a real man and fight another day/I heard that in a TV program/so it must be right” delivered with more than a hint of cynicism. The menacing slow-paced build of Finished I Ain’t is more rewarding with every listen, and single Cash and Carry me Home is as representative of the Ghostpoet manifesto as anything else. Liiines is an ambitious indie-crossover effort, with Ejimiwe showing his effortless versatility, while Garden Path’s rainforest ambience contains within it perhaps the most introspective lyrics on a thoroughly introspective album. But it’s the scattered catch-me-if-you-can rhythms and low-filtered keys of closer Floating that really seals the deal, ending the show with a downtempo, uplifting lament of love, Ejimiwe sounding half-asleep as he concedes “you know you can’t avoid it/millions have tried/best to just let it in/and give a little time”.
There are Bristolian flavours present throughout, and the Roots Manuva comparisons are – at points – inescapable, but the emergence of an artist in the same vein is always going to be good news, especially if it comes in the form of someone as exciting and thought-provoking as Ghostpoet.