Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip - The Logic of Chance

by Rich Morris Rating:5 Release Date:2010-03-15

Producer/wordsmith duo dan le sac Vs Scroobius Pip first caught the nation's attention with 2007's 'Thou Shalt Always Kill', a pithy rant about fashions, fads and overhyped bands. It was witty and irreverent and pulled off the trick of becoming a favourite of many of the people it was taking a swipe at. There's nothing as fun as that track on the duo's second album, The Logic of Chance, although the opening line of single 'Get Better' comes close: "Imagine a song that really reached out and touched kids/ and not in a Daily Mail way."

As that line implies, spoken word artist (or rapper, if you like, since he raps throughout this album) Pip is taking on the big topics this time, such as domestic violence on 'Five Minutes', knife crime on 'Great Britain' and dissolute youth on 'Get Better'. The results of this are often clumsy and not a little charmless but sometimes effective. On 'Great Britain', Pip quotes knife crime statistics to ram home his point about people's complacency on the subject. It comes across as rather hectoring, but you've got to admire both the man's ferocity and his research skills. However, elsewhere Pip audibly buckles under the weight of the subjects he takes on. 'Get Better' takes a look at underachieving youths, weighed down by poverty, crime, boredom and inequality, and after surveying their confused and depressing lives, what's the best advice he can offer? "It's a case of self-motivation", apparently, and these kids without prospects should simply "get it together". I'm sure it's not Pip's intention, but this very tepid and woolly handling of a complex subject comes across as a tad Thatcherite in its prescribing of simple self-determination to overcome inequality. It also manages to be rather reminiscent of David Cameron's patronising 'hug a hoodie' nonsense.

'Get Better's obvious inspiration is 'Stay Positive' from the first Streets' album. But where Mike Skinner managed to convince you he'd lived every line, that he'd fought depression, lost himself in hard drugs, and eventually scraped together a few pearls of wisdom to live by, Pip sounds like he's merely read the crib notes of that life. And this applies to many of the hot potato topics Pip takes on over the course of the album. At no point on 'Five Minutes' or 'Great Britain' do you really believe he knows whereof he speaks, instead of just having jotted down his thoughts while watching the evening news. It's all very well to have the statistics to back up your point of view, but in music, and especially the hip hop in which most of the tunes on The Logic of Chance are rooted, firsthand experience is often prized above all else. It's the difference between, say, NWA's compelling 'Fuck tha Police' and 'Just Say No' by the Grange Hill cast. By the time the full-throttle proselytising of 'Stake a Claim' rolls around, you can't help visualising Pip as one of the rent-a-gob wannabe insurrectionists you always find in student union bars. "I swear as a citizen in this country/ to not just sit around/ bitching and moaning," he rages, causing you to wonder what exactly he thinks he's been doing over the course of this album.

It's not all full-on rabble rousing though; The Logic of Chance contains its share of lighter moments. 'Last Train Home' is carefree enough for Pip to self-deprecatingly mock his unusual facial topiary. 'The Beat', meanwhile, deploys the venerated hip hop trope of boasting mightily about the quality of your track's percussion. And it has to be said, the beat in question is a fine one. In fact, dan le sac's production throughout the album is exemplary, pulling off hip hop, grime and hooligan house with consummate skill. Unfortunately, it's hard to lose yourself in the music when someone is lecturing you like an eager social worker on a coke binge. "I ain't no preaching fucker and I ain't no do-goody-goody either," spits Mike Skinner at the end of 'Stay Positive'. Sadly, by the close of The Logic of Chance, this is not a claim that Scroobius Pip could get away with making.

Richard Morris

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