Various - Kidulthood

Not only stands up, but steps right up and kicks you in the teeth

Album Review by Alex Kirk | 16 Apr 2006
Album title: Kidulthood
Artist: Various
Label: 357
Soundtracks often end up as detritus, a sad and often cynical add-on tacked brutally to the arse end of a film's marketing to try and squeeze more money out of the hapless consumer. 'Walk The Line' is a fine example - cracking film, talented actors, featuring some of the finest songs Johnny Cash recorded. Yet the soundtrack was awful - more about the cash than the Cash, it was karaoke at its putrefying worst.

However, with the soundtrack from the uber-street film 'Kidulthood', we have an album that stands up. Not only that, but steps right up and kicks you in the teeth. Original street cuts from some of Britain's finest hip-hop, garage, grime and otherwise underground MCs, DJs and producers, it is - to be fair - a compilation album. As a primer for anyone wanting to see what's really perking up ears around the country, this is the easy way in, without all that fidly mucking about with white labels.

Cee Why's dark hip-hop lines drip with menace, Akala's territorial pride bursts with defiance, Skinnyman's hyper-grim realism matches its tight and clinical beats, and Lethal Bizzle's Pow is... well, if you haven't caught it yet, you truly missed out on THE mentalist underground moment of last year, if only for the frenetic list of weaponry involved. There are bigger names on here, like The Streets, Audio Bullys and Roots Manuva (who supplies an awesome collaboration with the Cinematic Orchestra), but it's the lesser known artists you want to watch.

It's all nicely summed up in one track in fact, Plan B's jaw-droppingly good acoustic version of Kidz. Its refrain ("Stab you in the leg in an alleyway/ That's the mentality of kidz today") is a deliberate reference (among thousands of equally horrendous references) to the Damilola Taylor murder. It's miserable, it's depressing and it's scary as hell. It's also the only original musical thought coming out of anywhere right now. The Arctic Monkeys, the Kaiser Chiefs and all that girly pop mob are strictly for the kids - this however, is music made by kids who grew up too fast. [Alex Kirk]
This album is out now.