Professor Green – Growing Up In Public
by Stephen Moore
Wednesday, October 15, 2014
Green shows what he can do when he puts his mind to his rhymes in this mixed bag of a return.
The Hackney dealer done good draws on the hip-pop intuition of Rudimental and The Streets’ lighter side for his third studio album, deploying funk-rock guitars, rave-pop, hip-hop, house and drum’n’bass and bringing in a clutch of collaborators.
It comes after a difficult few years – Green narrowly escaped being crushed between two cars, was robbed outside his home and banned from driving.
Not that you’d know it from opener I Need Church, its adrenalised but forgettable chorus lashed to muscular guitar, Green half-heartedly after redemption from God if he’s there, and Robbie Williams dropping by for a half-baked skit.
But his autobiographical approach shortly hardens up, spilling the beans on a tough life.
He confronts his father’s suicide in Lullaby, the album’s best cut by far, which delves into his battle with depression but comes off as a surprisingly uplifting tune thanks to Tori Kelly’s vocal contribution.
Elsewhere, Can’t Dance Without You bounces on a ‘90s-indebted groove, mixing the The Prodigy’s rave with The Shamen’s dance tips and some Dirty Cash-era Stevie V for good measure.
But the flipside is the cautionary Fast Life, a slow-paced and string-drenched moan about waking up next to a stranger, not remembering what he did last night then having to catch a plane.
On balance, Green does deliver wry riffs on vacuous celebrity, slips in cheeky jokes and bravado amid some impressive flow.
It’s just a shame that the licks allied to his lyrics often feel tired and cynical rather than vital and fresh.