“When it comes to reigning in the extravagant bravado and turning up the emotion, well, it’s then that Mike Skinner’s musical abstinence hits you hardest”
Digital Release: January 22, 2012
Physical Release: N/A
That difficult second album is often the thorn in the side of many avid fans of artists like Professor Green. Nobody wants to hear a début album full of promising material and then, after the artist responsible of catapulted into public and critical acclaim, hear them complain about the pressures of being famous, so in many ways it’s a breath of fresh air that Professor Green chose a more personal route when recording his second album. And if there’s one thing ‘Never Be A Right Time’ does for him, it shows that he’s progressed from the mardy teenager he was on his clunkily-executed first album and into a fully-grown man with ‘At Your Inconvenience’. Something of a maturity appears to have happened in the intervening years, and they’ve wisely kept him firmly rooted in the ground in spite of his success.
What has transcended the chasm between his two albums though, is his devilish sense of satire that outwits just about every other rapper to rise to prominence, for however long, in the last five years of hip-hop. But when it comes to things that require a more grounded approach, such as in ‘Never Be A Right Time’, there’s nothing stopping Green from bolting straight for the clichéd method of still-quite-questionable hip-hop balladry. At times, he sounds redolent of Mike Skinner without the nigh-philosophical ponderings of life, with Ed Drewett’s dulcet tones blubbering out softly-felt confessionals while Green pleads for absolution of past sins. It might come as a pleasant surprise to those who, every time ‘Love The Way You Lie’ slunk out of the depths of radio stations’ record collections, felt like they were being repeatedly assaulted by Eminem’s counter-productive virulence that Green’s helium-powered voice is reigned in somewhat, at the cost of three and a half minutes of his underground edginess being completely buffed away to reveal a neatly rounded selling figure. But even in that stead, ‘Never Be A Right Time’s emotive resonance lasts much longer.
But the problem here is this: whilst Green is blind to uncompromising boundaries that might constrict him, he often loses sight of where to effectively dissipate his energy; though subdued on ‘Never Be A Right Time’, it seems he cannot help but let it slip squarely into a safely constructed radio ballad. At his best he’s striking the trenchant middle-ground between his underground subcultural beginnings and his frenetic newfound fame, but to celebrate his efforts as something that always appears complimented by both variables in equal proportion would be a little more than just a bit biased; he’ll never fail to amuse you with crass humour at the expense of his most fiendish anti-establishment satires, but when it comes to reigning in the extravagant bravado and turning up the emotion, well, it’s then that Mike Skinner’s musical abstinence hits you hardest.