The Prof hasn’t had a quiet life has he? The Hackney born rapper’s grown up with having to deal with the death of his father, been stabbed, been crushed by two cars, and now on top of all this is married to a reality TV star. These are just a few of the turmoil’s of the English rapper (although he probably wouldn’t describe the last item on the list as turmoil). Somehow he’s managed to release three albums in the meantime, with his latest effort, Growing Up in Public being the most varied to date.
We all know Professor Green can rap, but what he’s struggled with on previous records is coming up with sounds that can be truly his. This record gets closer than ever before to accomplishing this feat, but also relies heavily on comparisons and other artistes to tailor his sound. This isn’t a bad thing, and he pulls it off well on tracks such as Not Your Man; a fast-paced mind bending tale of thoughts running through his head – a style made famous by Eminem and utilised here to great effect by adding a distinctly English grime feel to it. Hats must also go off to Green for rhyming Louis Vuitton with lyrics about sleeping on a futon – a first in the rap game I’m sure.
Dead Man’s Shoes is a cheeky two fingers up to all those that are –whether you admit it or not – jealous of Professor Greens relationship and marriage to Millie Mackintosh. For those of you who don’t know, she’s an English reality TV star, and the track bravely talks about their relationship and the media with impressive dexterity and a playful tone; lyrics about not being made in Chelsea are the icing on the cake.
Green’s clever wordplay is apparent on many tracks, none more so than album opener I Need Church. With his cheeky boy about the town nature coming through strongly, the rapper shamelessly belts out “when she said her name was honesty I said I look forward to tackling the truth”. On the other hand it’s a shame that the track isn’t anything to shout about musically, feeling a little too much like a tribute to Kasabian.
At times the album feels a little dated, such as with track Fast Life, venturing onto no new ground with it’s story of a one night stand; luckily these sections are far and few between. Rizzle Kicks help the singer out on Name In Light, creating a light-hearted track well worth a listen, and Mr Probz lends a hand on Little Secrets, taking more than his fair share of the vocals and working wonders with it. In fact friends and collaborators are featured quite heavily throughout; to which some might say it hinders Greens performance.
One of the best is saved till last however with title track Growing Up in Public. The Prof once again shows off his inventiveness with the written word, and managing to find rhymes where he shouldn’t: ‘lacing up my shoes, doing up my shirt, I don’t know why I bother you can’t polish a turd’. It’s a good finish with anger, comedy and creativity.
Professor Green has learned from others and it shows. He started off as rough and ready, and now he’s now got experience and style. If he can rely on his own sound a little more and move away from comparisons to Eminem and others, I think it would make future efforts stronger and really show that the rapper is a star in his own right. That said, Growing Up in Public is a decent effort with many top tracks.