Jme :: Integrity :: Boy Better Know
as reviewed by Michael G. Barilleaux

[Integrity] Grime is on the rise, and Jme is just as big a part of it as anyone. On "Integrity," the third album of his career, Jme brings a project to the UK hip hop scene that embodies the very essence of grime music in many ways, but simultaneously lets it down.

Now some would consider it controversial to say that grime is part of hip hop, or even a sub-genre. Nevertheless, a perfectly good case can be made for calling artists rapping to a beat at least a form of hip hop. Either way, that topic deserves an article of its own.

There are several artists, such as Skepta, Stormzy, and Krept and Konan, who are doing a great deal to move grime forward. The result of this is a resurgence of grime in the last few years that is worth paying close attention to. What listeners find on "Integrity," however, is not the best representation of this.

Nevertheless, there are bright spots on this record that deserve to be mentioned first. For one, Jme's ambidextrous flow is certainly one to be admired. This is heard in places such as on "Amen" when on the first verse Jme moves effortlessly and powerfully through bars:

"I get deep on the dubs
Vocals never sound weak on the dubs
Man say they wanna hear me dubs on the dubs
I can spit fast like D Doubs on the dubs"

This last bar is a reference to D Double E, a grime elder with speed and flow that Jme demonstrates he is worthy of comparing himself to.

There are also full songs on this project that demand another listen. "Man Don't Care," featuring Giggs, contains an infectious hook refraining "Man don't care about all that," making this track one that is not easy to forget. Nevertheless, Jme's lines in this song about how other rappers focus too much on their technical skills could actually expose a weakness of his own.

When it's all said and done, however, the production on this album steals the show. Tracks like "Work," "Taking Over," and "Test Me" contain steady but effective bass tracks layered with sharp synths and, in the case of "Work," wobbling vibrations. These beats come courtesy of producers such as Deeco, Teeza, and Jme himself. Everything about the production on this project feels gritty and, well, grimy, yet polished and refined.

Nevertheless, the lyrical content of Integrity is a pitfall that most of the album's potential sinks into. Jme frequently delivers lackluster lines on almost every song, many of them being difficult to listen to more than once. On "96 F*ckries" Jme raps "Nobody wants to get punched in the face cause when you get punched in the face it hurts." On "No You Ain't" he raps "They say you are what you eat, so go against me and you're dead meat." Lines like this just plain and simply bring songs down. An artist like Jme who prides himself on and largely relies on his lyrical abilities cannot allow lyrics such as these to have any place in projects that are meant to be taken seriously.

In addition to this, some tracks are just plain unbearable. Hearing Jme's uninspired recitation of "They got me on the road again" over and over on "Again" is close to painful. The result of all of this is an album that shows promise in the areas of technical skill and production, but that is brought down by weak and stale lyrics. Nevertheless grime remains a genre on the come up in the States and one worth continuing to follow.

Music Vibes: 7 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 5 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 6 of 10

Originally posted: July 12, 2016