- Council Estate Of Mind is the long awaited debut album from one of UK's most prominent MC's Skinnyman. A major player in the UK hip hop scene, Skinnyman is recognized for his with the Mud Family (Music Under Development For All My Individual Living Youths) alongside Chester P and Mongo and also for his guest appearances on albums by Mark B & Blade, DJ Vadim and countless other UK hip hop releases. As part of the Mud Family, the three would travel around London showcasing their skills at free battle shows where they would destroy the competition and enhance their reputation amongst rivals and fans alike. 2001 saw Skinnyman signed to Giles Peterson's Talkin' Loud imprint, however the label folded and shut down by its parent company. Luckily Low Life records recognised Skinny's input to the hip hop scene and now signed his debut album to the label. More recently Skinnyman has been showcasing his skills at the famed Breakbeat Connection events taking his brand of hip hop to the masses.
The album itself features a lot of spoken word commentary documenting the hardships faced by an artist trying to get his album signed. It even takes on issues about living in council estates, how the kids in those neighborhoods usually end up on the wrong side of the law and issues with family life and education. Not overly optimistic, but it's the harsh reality that Skinnyman has faced. The commentary itself cuts in between the tunes and creates a story creating the perfect lead up to each track.
Skinnyman vents his frustration for the commercial music industry on Fuck The Hook as he spits lyrics about where he started, how long he's been in the scene while a soul/gospel vocal sample accompanies him the background. Hayden talks more about the hardships faced by the neighbourhood kids, their troubles with the law and how many of them turn to crime to get through the day. Life In My Rhymes which features in the middle of the album takes the same path.
Opening up with a bluesy piano riff Love's Gone From The Streets speeds up the tempo to dancehall beats and sees Skinnyman rap about the environment around him while a soulful female vocal provides a stark constrast to his commentary. It's Over sees Skinnyman and crew get down and dirty melding the raw essence of diss rhymes with the grit of rock on top of grimey UK hip hop style beats.
Skinnyman brings out more positive lyrics on That's What I'm Gonna Do as he promises to take a turn in his life for the better, before he summarises his life so far on the title track which closes off the album.
Council Estate is more than just your average everyday hip hop release, Skinnyman takes the listener on a journey through his personal life and trials and tribulations making it as a recording artist. Some may argue that the commentary does take up a fair amount of space on the album, yet unlike the stupid skits that feature in many hip hop albums nowadays, the commentary and the tracks on the album sit hand in hand making the listener feel a part of Skinnyman's world. A great album from an MC who doesn't lack MC skills and sticks true to the themes uncovered in every song.