Music Reviews

LSK Outlaw

(Sony) Buy it from Insound Rating - 7/10

Unfortunately, because of The Streets' success, anything British that is urban and slightly different, will continue to be held up to the light that is Original Pirate Material to see if it's real or not. So, really either one of two things will happen with LSK: either they will be praised and successful because of the "similarities" or written off as some cheap version of Mike Skinner's project. Well, neither should happen, but how can we prevent that?

LSK (which stands for Leigh Stephen Kenny) grew up listening to his mum's reggae and Motown collection, and man, it shows. One-time member of now defunct trip-hop outfit, Bedlam A Go Go, Kenny moved on to LSK, as well as helping out Nightmares On Wax with their Mind Elevation album from last year. Outlaw isn't the debut LSK album. A self-titled one from 1999 garnered attention, but it took four years to complete a follow-up.

Like Original Pirate Material, this record is a mash-up of many influences and genres. Ska, reggae, dancehall, funk and soul - all with a pop element - are combined to give this record its extraordinary personality. Beginning with a track called The Takeover, which literally does takeover the BBC's airwaves in the song, the album never slows down its party-loving pace.

Former single Rap Starr does a lot of name dropping, telling the story of Kenny's yearning to become a, well, rap artist. Of course, the irony is, that it sounds more like a dancehall anthem than it does anything hip-hop. Kenny visits the land of dub for the classic sounding Rumours 'N' Lies and tries his own hand at Jamaican-influenced hip-hop on Stick To Ya Guns. Most remarkable though is his aim for the bedroom with the slick soul of Life Without You and the hidden track, I Wanted Ya, a song so rich in slap bass, falsetto vocals and Stevie Wonder retro flava that it could even show D'Angelo a thing or two.

Outlaw isn't original, nor is it groundbreaking the way The Streets was considered to be. Yet, who cares? It's a breath of fresh air, from a genre that struggles in the UK music market, and a strong album in general. This year's The Streets? Maybe to some because of its new approach, but to most that will enjoy it, it is an album with its own entity.