Shameless - Smokers Die Younger
Anyone who still shivers upon hearing the term "white rapper" might yet be surprised by Shameless. Raised by an Irish mother in east London, his debut album, Smokers Die Younger, sounds authentically gritty.
"It's not directed at smokers," he has said, "it's about how we live our lives. I know people that are in jail for the paths they've chosen, but they knew the risks all along." Hence the expected nods to drugs (weed, mainly), partying and the struggle of life on the streets.
A man of eclectic musical tastes, Shameless stirs rock samples (Nirvana on Dead Superstars; Rod Stewart on Everyday (in a broken dream)) into the hip hop brew, while Some Things finds him juggling reggae and drum 'n' bass. There are also some well integrated film samples, most notably Ray Winstone's thoughts on Britain from Sexy Beast. Smokers Die Younger deftly walks the tightrope between grimey and accessible - and for this reviewer, if not exactly treading new ground, is better than the output of a certain white rapper from across the pond.