It was around 2006 when I first heard of Professor Green, I was/am a massive fan of The Streets so when I heard that this guy had been signed by Mike Skinner I had to check him out. What I found was a rapper with a very impressive reputation on the battle rap circuit with great punch-lines, great natural flair and a wicked sense of humour. Man… 2006 seems a life time ago now.
With pretty much every release that has come from Green since 06 some of my enthusiasm for his talent has faded. He is wickedly talented but the edge that he had before he released any albums has been smoothed out to such an extent that apart from brief flashes, normally on guest verses it’s difficult to believe that this is the same man. As evidence, check his verse on ‘Game Over’ by Tinchy Stryder, he kills everybody else on the track, the talent is there but he just seems hesitant to let go the way that he used to back in the day.
All of this brings me to his latest release ‘Growing Up In Public.’ Was this album going to see Green return to his incredible best or see him done the carpet slippers to go with the cardigans that he is now wearing? I am very disappointed to say that it is very much the latter. I have never heard an album so safe in my life. Green’s rough edges have apparently been sanded down with industrial machinery and what’s left is a pale imitation of the artist which he could be.
Opening track ‘I Need Church’ is one of few real standout moments of the record and even this track is marred by a reference which will have you asking ‘WHY!!??’ As for the good points I like the rock tinged production and the little poke at Danny O’ Donoghue shows the old sense of humour but equally the playful nudge he gives Robbie Williams over ‘Rudebox’ an album which is 8 years old is a little out of place. Even if they are mates (Shown by the skit at the end) it just seems strange to make that reference 8 years on.
‘Dead Man’s Shoes’ is another decent track, although he does take a stab at reality TV shows like Made In Chelsea despite the fact that it’s the only reason why his wife is famous. It’s a solid enough album track though. The next single from the album ‘Lullaby’ is up next and it’s probably my favourite track. It’s the most introspective and ‘grown up’ song on the record and just hits all of the right notes, it’s heartfelt and sincere and I love Tori Kelly’s voice as well, she sings the hook and I’d definitely want to hear more from her. Sadly however, this is as good as it gets.
It’s not that there is anything particularly bad about the rest of the album it’s just that it all sort of blends together and nothing really stands out. It’s just ok, and you can’t really get excited about it. ‘Little Secret’s is pretty formulaic all round, beats, rhymes, and overall structure is straight out of the pop/hip-hop guide book. It might not always be the coolest thing to admit to but I really don’t mind Rizzle Kicks, they are good at what they do and that’s why their guest appearance on next track ‘Name In Lights’ came as a disappointment. I’m not a fan of the beat and all the performances sound like they have been phoned in, it will probably get on the radio but I can’t say that I’m a massive fan.
‘Fast Life,’ ‘Can’t Dance Without You’ and ‘Not Your Man’ is a run of songs so average that there really isn’t a lot to say about them. Formulaic production and ok raps pretty much sum these three tracks up. It’s such a shame because as I mentioned above I think deep down Green is so talented but he really isn’t doing himself justice here.
The production badly lets down ‘In The Shadow Of The The Sun’ again not that it’s anything special in the first place, but it wouldn’t have been a bad track if it wasn’t for the rubbish beat. On final track ‘Growing Up In Public’ Green does what I have been hoping he’d do for the entirety of this album he rediscovers 2006. Well not quite. The track sounds like it would have been at home on a Streets album from that era, but he’s 8 years too late.
For an artist who used to have such an edge this album is sadly and predictably very safe. Green seems caught between trying to present himself as serious and grown up while keeping his sense of humour intact but in the end he does neither. I firmly believe that this man has a classic album in him, we are talking top 3 best UK rap album ever standard but sadly this album really isn’t it. Mediocre, unimaginative and uninspiring, Growing Up In Public had a chance to be so much more but it badly underwhelms.