tue 28/09/2021

Album: Greentea Peng - Man Made | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Greentea Peng - Man Made

Album: Greentea Peng - Man Made

Rebel dub soul from south London: both of the now and tapped into a deep lineage

Greentea Peng: a particularly British archetype

Greentea Peng is a south Londoner, heavily tattooed, heavily spiritual, heavily anti-establishment, and very, very heavily into basslines.

She cuts a singular figure in many ways, but her rebel dub soul style also makes her a particularly British archetype: the next iteration in a lineage starting with Poly Styrene and Ari Up, and running through Neneh Cherry, Tricky and MIA. (Yes, OK, Ari Up was German and MIA is Sri Lankan, but their sound and their cultural fusions could only have happened on this island.) 

Like each of those artists, she is unmistakeable in sound. One of the most remarkable things about this album, in fact, is that though it features among its producers Mala and Swindle – two of the most distinctive craftsmen of the dubstep / grime generation – neither of their work overshadows her regular producers Earbuds or the other musicians on the record. Rather, it’s subsumed into the wider deeper flow of the album, along with postpunk, smooth soul, drum’n’bass and other influences, all held in check by the force of GP’s personality as she croons, chants and chats. 

Like so many of her aforementioned predecessors, GP treads the finest of lines between profundity and hokum. Her messages are, repeatedly and bluntly: authority should be fought, society is an illusion, getting high will break your shackles (“sensi is my beloved” / “do yourself a favour and eat some shrooms”) and spiritual pursuits are good. These latter seem to be rooted in a melange of Hindu and Rasta references, but beyond that detail tends to get lost in the haze. Yet somehow this all works, creating a mood that's a lot subtler than its constituent conceptual parts. 

It works because of the totality of the record: word, sound and feeling are completely intertwined at all times, led by her deadpan but deadly powerful voice. In lesser hands, the style could run into deep problems: for example, with this little specificity, “Be Careful” with its ominous talk of a powerful “them” could be anything from a critique of capitalism to a rather darker conspiracy screed. But in the moment, taken together with its monumental Timbaland-in-dub rhythms, GP’s purred warnings seem oddly sensible. Like her maverick precursors, there are potential pitfalls along the way, but with a sound and style as fully, brilliantly developed as this, you can only hope she avoids them.

@joemuggs 

Watch "Kali V2": 

Word, sound and feeling are completely intertwined, led by her deadpan but deadly powerful voice

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Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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“Cuts a singular figure”. Indeed, indeed. I really REALLY hope she avoids those pitfalls along the way. Big concern. Great way to end the review! Vivid, vital, vantastic writing as always from the mighty Joe Muggs.

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