Album Review: Skittles – Poor On Purpose

The second album from Rapper and Producer Skittles, Poor on Purpose is nearly 8 years behind its previous full-length release. Becoming first aware of Manchester’s Skittles via Mary Anne Hobbs, I heard his brilliant single Dot to Dot back in 2011. Soon followed by self-released debut album Poor With £100 Trainers, it railed against a Music Industry that neither wanted him, nor knew what to do with him. It mixed bangers of great beats and tight lyrics together with tongue in cheek expressions of everyday life. Creating and enjoyable album that plumbed some hidden depths.

Since then, Skittles has been instrumental in the Manchester collective LEVELZ, who have taken Manchester’s famous DIY punk spirit to their own fusion of Hip Hop, Soul and Dancehall. Creating their own destinies, not waiting for the industry to catch up with them and self producing their own catalogue, which is made available for free. Building a reputation for legendary parties, their live shows have sold out around the world. 

Since Poor With £100 Trainers, Skittles’ solo output has been confined to an EP and few singles. But 2016’s Problematic, for me gave Liam Kelly a new high watermark. Featuring on Poor on Purpose, its jazzy trumpets, soulful piano motifs and skittles’ raw and emotive delivery represented a real step up in class as both an artist and producer. 

18 Months in the making, Poor On Purpose kicks off with Paperplates. It’s The Streets style, strings to beats with a vocal delivering razor-tight lyrics with Skittles’ own distinctive delivery. One that veers from pure swagger to naked vulnerability, then back again in a bass beat.

Switching up to summer West Coast vibes for the ‘just-getting-by‘ grove of Blue Skies. It’s like a darker companion to Jazzy Jeff’s summertime classic. The modern-day Murder Ballad Murderin People’ is incongruously upbeat and during the interludes, we catch up with the latest from Zeeko from Poor With £100 Trainers. Which may be a bit lost on anyone who’s not familiar with Our Tune.

The Danger combines a reach for the lasers club banger, with a bouncing low delivery. Before Your Name adds even more texture to the album by combining soulful choruses, acoustic guitar and cutting social commentary along with his LEVELZ wingman T-Man. 

Frisko Club 7 continues Skittle’s penchant for some tongue in cheek moments and comic relief on an album. And Truthos Musafa partners up on Let the Bass Rock which blends together great elements of Yacht Rock, Jazz and Flamenco. Breaking for the Dancehall beats of Bad Man.

Poor On Purpose draws heavily on the diverse rhythms that keep Manchester moving. And with that, it’s an album that captures the influences of city’s sounds and its stories from streets. Offering a beautiful, but brutal slice of surviving, striving and skiving in modern day Manchester. Delivered by someone whose drive, determination but don’t take-yourself-too-seriously attitude embodies the city. 

Poor On Purpose is available now on Download and exclusive wood cased vinyl here.

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