With Def Jam on the label and Rick Ross, Ed Sheeran, and Jeremih on the guest list, The Long Way Home is not only the debut album from South London hip-hop duo Krept & Konan, but it's their grand pop entrance for most listeners, considering that previous releases fell into the grey market world of mixtapes. Newcomers might find it strange, then, that this revered duo is so slow and sullen on "Fell Apart/Lucky Ones" and "Wait Up for Me/Waiting," both of these epic and split tracks displaying that post-fame disillusionment that usually fills album number two. "Drifting Away" explains that the groundwork has already been done in the underground ("Used to pay for Nike, now Nike pay for us") and now it's time to dig deeper. Deeper, even when popster Ed Sheeran stops by as "Dreams" poses complicated questions like "How do you expect me to tell a young G to put down the guns?" because the past has shown "That could be suicide." The opening title cut looks in the mirror and admits "When I put on a show/Now, they want to listen," then "Do It for the Gang" with Wiz Khalifa proves it, offering machismo and an infectious chorus and topping it all off with a menstruation joke ("White whip, red interior/That's a white chick on her period"). The hangover anthem "Last Night" with YG is more of the slick same as producers ADP and Levi Lennox offer the U.K. version of the trap beat, then the electro club track "Freak of the Week" with Jeremih hits the high life with a hardcore attitude, winding up the rare number that could be mistaken for either Usher or Three 6 Mafia. With fine guest appearances from Skepta and reggae great Derrick Morgan still to go, The Long Way Home is a great and entertaining album, but maybe not the lean, mean fighting machine that longtime fans crave. They can extract the ambitious, artistic EP hidden inside the album, or better still, they can consider this well-funded major-label release just a part of Krept & Konan's diverse body of work.
© David Jeffries /TiVo