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Chipmunk - I Am Chipmunk

Chipmunk, I Am Chipmunk

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 2.5 out of 5

FRESH from beating Dizzee Rascal to the best hip-hop act award at the recent Mobos, Chipmunk drops his debut album I Am Chipmunk in supremely confident – some might say arrogant – fashion.

A rapid fire collection of grime-influenced crossover records, it’s both hardcore and mainstream-friendly, providing Chipmunk with the potential for broad appeal.

But while some of the tracks are undeniably catchy, Chipmunk isn’t quite an awards-worthy artist at this stage and some of his hype seems unjustified.

Opening track Saviour provides a moody opening with some choral chanting weaving in and out of the background as Chimpunk introduces himself with quite a pent-up rap. Most striking is his ear for a catchy chorus, which is delivered with the help of female backing.

Chip Diddy Chip finds him in more breezy mode, dropping an almost cheeky rap, and a sharp mix of guitar bursts and lively beats. The chorus, too, is catchy and indicative of the quick delivery Chipmunk prefers in his vocals.

Current single Oopsy Daisy, featuring Dayo, mixes a nice synth bedding with soul and rap and is a proper radio-friendly offering.. as is his breakthrough smash Diamond Rings, which features more sassy guest vocals from Emeli Sandei and a fine ska sample.

But the quality isn’t always maintained. Man Dem, his collaboration with Tinchy Stryder, is just too grime and therefore irritating, with neither its vocals or grime-synth appealing.

And Lose My Life, his workout with N-Dubz, is pretty tepid… too pop, too mainstream and too bland to really be worthy of the awards bestowed upon him.

Indeed, the album begins to run out of steam after Diamond Rings as the songs become more hit and miss.

I Am drops a Timbaland-style beat and more slick production values, but doesn’t quite work as Chipmunk’s brash arrogance begins to take over, while his sugary letter to Dear Family is too sweet by contrast. It never really struck me as heartfelt as Chipmunk intended it to be.

Beast reverts back to harder grime territory and is one firm turn-off, while the pop vibe returns on the catchy Look For Me, which is co-delivered with Talay Riley and contains a far more enthusiastic energy.

Role Model underwhelms again, Sometimes is an inspiring ode to positivity in the face of hardship, and Business rounds things off with another pumping back-beat and a harder street vibe.

But while there is definitely enough to suggest Chipmunk has a bright future ahead of him, I Am Chipmunk is a deeply flawed offering that requires a fair bit of patience.

We’re by no means sold on this artist as yet.

Download picks: Oopsy Daisy, Diamond Rings, Look For Me, Sometimes, Chip Diddy Chip

Track listing:

  1. Saviour
  2. Chip Diddy Chip
  3. Oopsy Daisy
  4. Man Dem – Featuring Tinchy Stryder
  5. Diamond Rings – Featuring Emeli Sande
  6. Lose My Life – Featuring N Dubz
  7. I AM [Interval]
  8. Dear Family
  9. Beast [Featuring Loick Essien]
  10. Look For Me [Featuring Talay Riley]
  11. Role Model
  12. Sometimes
  13. Business [Featuring Young Spray]