“You now in tune with the most underrated niggas in rap” is Skeme’s introduction to Ingleworld on “We Against The World.” It’s also met with boastful lyrics about being the unofficial fifth member of Black Hippy and turning down an Interscope contract (the two kind of go hand-in-hand if you think about it). For the last bit of 2013, you couldn’t escape Skeme’s grip on hip-hop. He was featured (see: killed guest features) on projects by Dom Kennedy, Nipsey Hussle, TeeFlii and The Game on top of releasing a 21-track mixtape titled Bare With Me. He’s earned the right to claim one of the most underrated in the game, and Ingleworld is aiming to extend that by spreading his life, environment, aspirations and more to the entire globe.
Skeme falls into that category of rappers that claim their album is the best work they’ve done. This is a lot better than deeming it an early classic or an outrageous statement like it’s the best album in the last decade (a la French Montana). Not every song represents his best but many do. He’s in the pursuit of the dollar sign on “Millions,” and the Jamaican-esque hook is catchy enough, while the verses are something that ties his aspirations together (first verse is his dreams, second finds him enjoying money). This recurring theme pops up in other records like “No Time” and “Our Way,” but it’s not centered on that. The Boi-1da-produced “No Time” is a mellow, on-my-grind type record. He spits, “my lean budget match your monthly rent and lease, nigga.”
What makes Ingleworld his most cohesive work is more than just the songs themselves. He takes the time to make it sonically sound album-like. While there isn’t a clear story told, the structure is loosely based around one. Any listeners will get a bit of his life and environment. Then, we have records that are ready for radio. “What You Wanted,” featuring and produced by K. Roosevelt, and the Wale-assisted “Ain’t Perfect” both have potential without stepping away from what Skeme represents.
Guest features on Ingleworld often make sense. You have artists like Dom Kennedy, Nipsey Hussle and the two aforementioned names, but there’s somebody who stands out: Iggy Azalea. Her verse on “High Level” was fitting to the more upbeat, bouncy record but just doesn’t leave a lasting impression. On “Focus,” Skeme and Dom have fun about life, business and their friendship. That and “What Yo Life Like,” with Nipsey Hussle doing the hook (“what yo life like? Mine’s great/ Made it out despite my city’s crime rate”) are celebrations of their lives without giving off a satisfied position. These three are still focused on what they want to have, whether it be something new or more of a particular thing.
It might be observed that a lot of the same themes are rehashed throughout Ingleworld but he’s never limiting himself. Many capture several topics per song in music to motivate, educate and enjoy. Skeme’s not that flashy lifestyle rapper that gets stale. He balances money and life, success and struggle. The bonus track that comes after a minute or so of silence on “What Yo Life Like” has a particular line: “why I go hard? Shit, that’s all I know.” Hard, in many senses of the word, is exactly how you should look at Ingleworld.