Like many of us modern-day tenants and peasants, Smellington Piff has apparently experienced some difficulty with his housing situation. Inferring from his album titles, in 2014 he got the “Note of Eviction”, in 2018 he was of “No Fixed Abode”, and in 2022 he hit the road with “Roma Supreme”. This Supreme would be a model from UK caravan manufacturer Roma, a brand name likely referring to the Romani, the traditionally nomadic people that live in Europe (including the Kingdom).

The only tenable association to this specific background would be that Piff is used to a traveling lifestyle and therefore has an outside perspective on the way of life the majority leads. The intro to “Rome Supreme” sets the tone with footage of concerned citizens complaining about gatherings of ‘hippies’. Some of the ensuing tracks highlight the rapper’s proudly anti-authoritarian stance. “Few Things”, for instance, is, on purpose, a presentation in rambling form.

But this ‘homeless microphonist’ (word to fellow English indie MC Stig of the Dump) doesn’t shy away from introspection. “Bailiffs” doesn’t dwell too long on debt collectors as Piff reflects over how rapping doesn’t get him where he would like to be, concluding a segment about his rap talent with “On the real, I could talk about skills all day / But would it make enough money for these bills I need to pay?”

On “To the Left” he ponders his unwillingness to maintain a day job but eventually wanders off thinking about his highs to a bluesy sound underscored by horns. “Hard Times” is more focused and humorous (here we might have the only rapper in history to namedrop Necro, and humiliating himself in the process on top of that), Piff engaging with the lamenting vocal sample as he relates his hardships:

“They shut my dole off, no JSA
I don’t have a home, don’t you know I’m NFA?
I tried to get a job, they laughed at my CV
I would be in my caravan chillin’, watchin’ TV
But I blew it up when I wired it to DC
I made a F**k You song – the world turned PC
Each way I turn, the grain go against me
I guess I’ll never burn, hard times aplenty”

Smellington Piff’s coping mechanisms, at least going by the songs he writes, involve consumption of cannabis and alcohol. Not suprisingly, the latter seems to create more immediate problems for Piff, see “The Alcohol’s Talking”, his duet with Bizarre (who’s a good fit but can’t help himself dropping a questionable Bill Cosby pun). “Who Got the Skunk?” may end with excerpts from anti-drug messages but there’s no doubt Piff would likely agree with Bob Marley that “herb is the healing of a nation, alcohol is the destruction”.

Smellington Piff may be one of those rappers who might prompt you to a virtual intervention on behalf of his wellbeing. Maybe he would even appreciate the sentiment because “Wolves” is a really detailed and genuine song about having each other’s back, customized with a touch of Tupac Shakur-type defiance.

Some will find Smellington Piff instantly annoying – the accent, the voice, the attitude, the subject matter. They would probably find it preposterous of me to point out that when he impersonates a flirty girl and then replies, “Sorry miss, I’m already taken / and that’s not the kinda mistake that I be makin'”, he’s displaying a Slick Rick-esque charm. Nevertheless this albums offers more than just a few glimpses of insight and foresight, for example with the common-sense introspection of “Play My Part” (featuring Mys-Diggi, formerly known as Mystro), or “Breathe”, a campfire moment with some longtime associates, probably the closest “Roma Supreme” comes to a hip-hop hippie vibe (disregarding the boomerish “Information Overload”).

As mentioned, Smellington Piff most definitely has a carefree side, and he also displays his creative side here, notably with “U.F.O” (supported by Jack Jetson, Sean Peng and Eric The Red). The substance analogies of “Class A” (with Datkid) or the half-hearted jumbling of idioms on “Tooth For a Tooth” are less thrilling. On the note of guests, New Jersey’s Runt Dawg brings aggressive swagger to “Around Here”.

Co-starring producer Illinformed is the reliable partner as expected. Standouts include the full-on guitar plucking on “Who Got the Skunk?”, the vintage boom bap of “The Alcohol’s Talking”, or the cinematic late ’90s DJ Muggs soundscape of “Bailiffs”. Special shoutout to Jazz T for scratching on several tracks.

“Roma Supreme” is a consistent offering from two consistent artists on a consistent label. Listeners have to get their hands dirty to find the nuggets, which include dilligent internal rhyming – and the phrase “Tryina get my wits about me like the Big Lebowski”. As with many works that aim to give a portrayal of the lower class, you may come for the sensationalism but will stay for the sentiments.

Smellington Piff & Illinformed :: Roma Supreme
6.5Overall Score