Chipmunk – Transition | Album Review

‘Transition: The process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another.’

For some, however, its definition ‘in music terms’ may be seen as the pursuit of success, put ahead of keeping one’s musical integrity. Whatever meaning one chooses to believe, it’s without question a term which defines the current position of Brit emcee, Chipmunk.

From the young tearaway MC to the poster child for the tabloid-christened ‘Brap Pack’, the development of the artist as well as divide between the supporters and the doubters continues to grow with each new release. But Chippy’s ascension up the list of power players in the scene has landed the North London dynamo in positions of grandeur which, as he hopes, will result in much greater works to solidify his position and shut the ‘haters’ up as well. So it’s album number two which looks set to confirm Chipmunk’s transition – the question that remains is just what his transcendence has resulted in?

For someone who draws the attention of the mainstream media, there’s a certain ‘back against the wall’ feel to Transition. The self-titled opener is a grandiose affair with Chipmunk riding throughout its four minute duration, cutting down all the negative talk thrown at him. There is an intensity which comes as no surprise considering his grievances with certain MCs and naysayers. ‘Follow My Lead’ featuring Eric B (NOT of Eric B and Rakim fame) is driven by a hard hitting drum procession (a trait which follows throughout) where Mr Munk again takes aim at those blocking his success.

Lyrically, Chippy stands strong, as he is able to spit precisely and make it clear for all to break down his often heated verses. If anything lets his musings down it’s the sometimes overconfident switch of flow which brings him down a notch. Where ‘Foul’ is composed of a subtle bass and dry beat, the rapper’s fun, caricature voice takes some of the quality out of the track.

What many are seeking from Transition are the grand, empowering tracks with the superstar collaborations which had been touted for many months as the suggested ‘pulling power’ of Chip’s second album. Whilst Keri Hilson serenades the guitar heavy ‘In The Air’ and Trey Songz makes the ladies swoon on the R&B soaked ‘Take Off’, ultimately it’s the UK number 2 charting ‘Champion’ which still remains the strongest. The chest thumping anthem finds Chip at his most composed whilst Chris Brown arguably steals the show with a powerful hook and a rugged lyrical performance.

Having such heavyweight lineup of collabs adds some welcomed weight to Chipmunk’s album, making it a memorable and intriguing listen. Add to the aforementioned list Mavado and Diddy Dirty Money’s Kalenna Harper and you would think it’s a release from a huge US rapstar. Herein lies the problem however, as amidst its boastful, flashy output, very little of Transition feels British. Whilst Wretch 32 makes a respected presence on ‘Armageddon,’ the majority of the album has an international/US feel to it, which somewhat dents the idea of it being a great British album.

Without question, Chipmunk has come back in a bigger way. As a rhymer, he has fine tuned his style to sound polished-yet-rugged over the heavyweight beats. Although the aims at the critics are still tiring as ever, for the most part Chippy has learnt to deal with the barbs – and his addressing of such issues does add an impressive fuel to his performances.

Transition again will appeal to the masses of commercial radio; however this time around, due to its darker sound and staying closer to the Hip Hop/Dancehall side, the album will also win some fans of the specialised genres featured. Transition, in conclusion, displays an artist who, love him or hate him, has superseded the expectations of many and now sits in a lofty position which no one could begrudge him for.

Chipmunk – Transition
Released: 15 April, 2011
Label: Jive/Sony
BUY: iTunes / Amazon