Professor Green firmly established himself as one of the UK's most exciting new talents around when his debut album ‘Alive Till I’m Dead’ crashed into the charts at #2 last year. Since certified double-Gold, the album launched four hit singles with ‘I Need You Tonight’, ‘Just Be Good To Green’, ‘Monster’ and 'Jungle' amassing over 500,000 sales. The size of his army of Facebook friends – 1.3 million – tells it like it is: Professor Green is head and shoulders above any of his peers.
Second album At Your Convenience features 15 tracks, some regular collaborators (Emeli Sandé, Fink), and some new ones (Sierra Kusterbeck from American alternative rock band VersaEmerge, Dr Dre associate Khalil, English singer-songwriter Luciana). There’s the clever wordplay (Wayne Rooney better not get any designs on Pro’s nan and be reassured, Green isn’t about to start dressing like JLS), and real-life pain (the friend lost to heroin). Listen out for one killer sample (from Pixies’ ‘Where Is My Mind?’) and an explosion of ideas, an explosion of styles, an explosion of tunes. Professor Green has delivered the essential soundtrack to post-riot Britain.
It’s all there, and it’s all in there, in Green’s restless mind – where he commits most of his lyrics to memory without ever writing them down. Bunkered in his East London studio – new gaff, same tried’n’tested bedroom equipment from ‘Alive Till I’m Dead’ – the audacious song ideas came pouring out.
“Having somewhere that I can just go to work is great,” says Green, “’cause at the end of the day, even if you’re amongst friends, what you do and what you experiment with comes down to how confident you are. And I do sing a few bits on this album,” he adds with a smile, “and I’ve been a lot more daring in what I’ve written and the stuff we’ve done on tracks. More open about my ideas for the production side of things as well. I’ve lent my ear and my ideas to everything.”
This 27-year-old admits that this musical ambition is born of a new sort of stability. “It comes from being really comfortable with yourself and who you’re around.”
So, Professor Green is back but has he been away? In a way, yes. Around the musical block, gathering inspiration from hip hop, old school rap battles, old school soul, drum’n’bass, R&B, rock, electronica, and out-and-out-pop.
“I come from an era when we still did buy CDs. You put in an album, and you pressed play, and you didn’t press stop. A lot of times now you get someone’s album and everything sounds like three singles. And even the singles sound the same!” he laughs.
“I’m not into that,” he continues. Just as Green wants his gigs to be a proper show, “an album should be some sort of journey, peaks and troughs. It shouldn’t be flat. ’Cause even if everything’s up, it’s still flat. You need to have a mixture of stuff – good times, bad times, cheeky shit, serious shit. Getting all that on this album was definitely a conscious move. You know,” he reflects, “I’d never made an album before Alive Till I’m Dead, so there was quite a lot of naivety coming into it. But with this one I knew exactly where I wanted to get with it.”
With At Your Inconvenience, Green got there, then, went beyond. Everyone else has some catching up to do.