Review Summary: An honest and humble look into the life of a very bad man, Walk In Da Park is a champion of the grime scene
Grime is another one of those underground sub-genres that few people other than fans of that specific style of music will have any knowledge of. However, among those sub-genres, there are usually one or two artists who have managed to earn their place in the public consciousness, and Giggs is one of the few to somehow escape from the gritty trappings of grime music and become semi-famous within the UK. Combining a much slower and focussed flow with direct, true-to-life depictions of crime, all narrated in his signature deep tones, Giggs is one of a kind, and his debut record 'Walk In Da Park' was as solid a start to a career as could have been hoped for.
Three of the strongest cuts here feature guest appearances, adding a little variety to Giggs' monotonous, yet powerful, delivery. Swagger is a firm fan favourite, and was one of the songs that helped Giggs to make his name, whilst Who Are You To Judge is an aggressive swipe aimed in the direction of those who would defame Giggs due to his criminal background. Growing up in Pekham, Giggs became involved in substance misuse and dealing, and has served several prison sentences, and the vast majority of the lyrical material here is drawn directly from his experiences, and the vast documentation available regarding Giggs' criminal past gives the record a real feel of authenticity. Featuring regular collaborator Kyze, Rat-A-Tat-Tat is one of the strongest songs Giggs has recorded to date, with Kyze's verse especially living in the memory.
The title track and Test Out Da Nine are my favourite pieces here, with the former having an infectious piece of backing music, whilst Test Out Da Nine closes the record with a string of guest appearances and some of Giggs' strongest lyrical work. This man is not somebody who could be considered a 'lyrical genius', yet there are splashes of tongue-in-cheek humour, and the ways in which Giggs phrases certain things bring a smile to the mouth, whilst the horrors of street life depicted here feel so real that it is hard not to consider Giggs one of the strongest lyricists of his genre. However, there is a real humility to the man evident on You Raised Me, a shoutout to his mother who attempted to raise Giggs the right way. Moments such as this help the record to stand out.
Unfortunately, there are a couple of stinkers on this record that can not be ignored. Open Up has a brilliant beat to it, but the lyrical content feels far too crass, with the overly sexualised approach taken here rendered irrelevant by current PC views. Despite the slow pacing of Giggs' flows usually serving to enhance the menacing feel behind some of his lyrics, there is one song where this works to his disadvantage and ruins everything good about the song in question. Cut Up Bag has an ominous backing track to it, but it just never feels like it really gets going, with the monotonous, dull, insanely slow flow to it completely killing the track stone dead, and threatening to derail the album overall.
Thankfully, Walk In Da Park improves again afterwards, and the second half of the album more than makes up for the two weaker songs near the start. This is a record that I would recommend to anyone looking to broaden their musical horizons, or for people who are aware of the term grime but have no experience with the genre. Whilst this is not entirely representative of what grime usually consists of, it is an excellent look at urban life in London, and started a string of solid records, with When Will It Stop perhaps being the only Giggs record to topple this.