Zero Tolerance

Zero Tolerance

It’s always a major event when Giggs’ distinctive growl rumbles through the speakers. The veteran rapper—one of the most influential figures in the UK rap scene—has seen his career go from strength to strength over two decades, but on Zero Tolerance, his sixth studio album, it seems Giggs has had enough. “Zero Tolerance is where I am at in life right now,” he tells Apple Music. “The older and more mature I get, the less time I have for certain things—especially things that are meaningless or don’t directly impact me. Right now I feel like I am on zero with it all. Less patience, less tolerance.” Perhaps it’s the weight of responsibility that comes with the level of respect Giggs commands that is wearing on his spirit. “I’ve been supportive/But they hate me/They blame me for man’s crimes,” he broods over the theatrical orchestration of the title track, which opens the record. His sincere determination to fulfill an unspoken duty of care to the artists who have emerged in his wake—to help them get a leg up, to bring them to his level—is admirable, but seemingly unappreciated. It’s a topic he ruminates on constantly across the album’s hour-long run time. “I draw influence from my everyday life,” Giggs says. “The mandem, women, supporters, haters, being a dad. It all feeds into Zero Tolerance.” There is one artist, at least, who sees eye to eye with Giggs on the experiences that have elevated him to legendary status. That recognition comes from hip-hop mogul and icon Diddy, who features on “Mandem,” the album’s lead single. “Hey yo, Giggs, I see how you got it goin’ down down here, man/You got the ends on lock/Yeah, you like me, longevity, n*****,” he observes with admiration, ad-libbing over the track’s thudding outro. The album’s tracklist, which also boasts collaborations with US rapper Jadakiss, dancehall star Popcaan, and repeat chart-topper Dave—among others—reflects that generation-spanning longevity. It’s also testament to the ways in which Giggs’ reach, and his artistry in turn, has expanded since his last release, 2019’s BIG BAD…—from North America to the Caribbean to Africa and beyond. “Hallelujah,” an Afrobeats linkup with Nigerian singer Lojay, is a particular standout, a splash of summery warmth to break up the rest of the record’s cold front. While the guest artists may have big-name recognition, the production roster on Zero Tolerance is far less starry-eyed, leaning on more underground beatmakers—Louis Egyin-Buadu, Andrew Poku—or else utilizing producers from the creative circles he has overlapped with on this project, such as Marcus Rucker (Dave East) and Kevin Gomringer of Cubeatz (21 Savage, Travis Scott). “I keep it simple. If I like the beat, I use the beat,” Giggs says. “I’ve never been the type of artist that only works with one set producer or goes for someone just because they have a big name. It’s always about the beat and how I personally feel towards it.” To that end, Zero Tolerance is primarily a complementary blend of reverberating trap, drill, and melodic hip-hop, each track with its own distinctive sonic fingerprint, anchored by Giggs’ measured, deliberate flow. Drums pound and skitter menacingly on tracks like “We Nuh Fraid,” a singsong threat delivered with taunting relish, and “Spiderman,” a superhero flex on his rivals produced by the team behind BIA & J. Cole’s “LONDON.” In softer moments, piano twinkles sweeten the bitter taste of betrayal on “Once in a Blue” while “Unlimited Blessings” draws solemn contemplation from the same instrument. Giggs has never been the kind of artist to mince words, but there’s a fresh layer of relatable vulnerability to Zero Tolerance that, far from weakening his stone-cold image, instead gives it a sharp new edge. The “Black king god” juggles his conscience, his friends, his enemies, his women, his community, his ambition, his expectations of himself, the expectations of others—not to mention all the international flights and the star-studded parties—in pursuit of cultivating a measure of happiness and security in the micro-universe he is at the center of. And yet, “this the loneliest I’ve ever been/And trust me it’s gon’ happen but I miss my kids,” he admits within the first two minutes. Just a man, after all—and not ashamed to show it. “I keep it real and authentic with who I am and what I do,” says Giggs. “Whether it’s me happy, sad, in love, heartbroken, just with the mandem—it all comes from a real place, so it’s all meaningful to me.”

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