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Professor Green - Very much alive
on 19 July 2010
While you wonder whether Professor Green (Hackney white rapper Stephen Manderson) got his names mixed up from the Cluedo characters its another form of mixing that dominates this very assured grime music album. Green's use of pop songs like INXS "Need you tonight" or even more commercially "Just be good to green" mixing and merging the S.O.S. Band's "Just Be Good to Me", with Beats International's response "Dub Be Good to Me" is clearly a sign that like Plan B the confines of a club will not satisfy this young rapper. Adding Lily Allen into the mix suggests that total chart domination is his target. And yes at this point it is almost compulsory for the Eminem comparison to come up since there is something about the swagger and self belief on this album that does remind you of Detroit's finest.
If you don't like the pop orientated stuff that shouldn't detract potential buyers of "Alive Till I'm Dead" since this remains a very strong grime album with tracks like the stellar "Jungle" (Feat Maverick Sabre) bringing together a dubstep swampy feel combined with huge blocks of synths that gives it a nice sinister edge. Its by far the best and hardest song on the album in an urban ode to the streets of Hackney. In a similar vein are the brilliant "City of Gold" from which Dizzie Rascal could learn a thing or two and the deep dub heavy "Closing the door" feat Fink of which veterans Sly and Robbie would be proud (plus anyone who can nick a line from Dire Straits and make it work in a dub song must have something going for them). "Oh my god" almost sounds like a heavy metal and sees Green claiming to be "rap's George Best" and sets out his ambition to do rather naughty things to Ms Pixie Lott. A correspondence course in "confidence building" would be sadly wasted on the good Professor!
"Monster" (featuring Example) alternatively has "single" written all over it, the opener "Kids that love to dance" feat up and coming R & B singer Emeli Sandé is pure party music and "Where do we go" featuring Shereen Shabanain in turn shows that Green can perform the slow rap ballad with real style. The final track is "Goodnight" a heartfelt piano-driven tribute to the grandmother who brought him up and is the albums highlight. It shows that Green has talent to spare with a huge orchestra and a brilliant climax. Granted there are a couple of songs on here which are a bit to close to Eminem for comfort (Do for you) or the Mitchell Bothers (Falling down) but overall this is truly solid album. Professor Green on "Alive Till im dead" must be near to the top of those rap artists who its worth putting a huge bet on when it comes to the crossover stakes. That said the airplay friendly parts of this album are nicely balanced with a much harder edge. In tonight's edition of Metro picked up on the train its review states that "there's a sense of kinetic energy bubbling under these productions, heightened by Green's deadpan self-deprecation and refreshing willingness to mix up musical styles". Couldn't agree more, since this is one of the most confident albums by a British artist in urban music since "Original Pirate Material" and thus fully recommended for your listening pleasure.