REVIEW: Chris Leese & Oli Frost – Big Shots

It’s been a while since Don’t Flop fans have heard from Macclesfield’s finest. Chris Leese, The league’s resident triple-timer, has teamed up with London-based singer Oli Frost to put together Big Shots – a full-length, 40-minute album that can be summed up in three words: “worth the wait”.

Big Shots is an album that clearly appreciates the value of putting your best foot forward, because from the moment that the stomp-clap beat of album opener Kick Off kicks in, the listener’s head is nodding instinctively.

From there on out, its easier to praise the album for the themes it explores rather than the beats behind them – and that’s no bad thing. Chris Leese, you see, doesn’t make songs about nothing. Track after track, each new song explores themes outside the typical “I’m the best” bravado and forced wordplay that rap fans are slowly coming to see as the norm.

Kick Off leads into The Landline – an absolute overload of 90s nostalgia. The album’s second track is a backyard barbecue banger full of references to Fresh Prince, Round The Twist, Goosebumps and Gareth Southgate’s calamitous penalty miss in 1996. Whether or not you’re a rap music fan, this is the kind of track that everybody born between 1980 and 2000 will vibe with.

Tattoos & Trainers, which does a Ronseal job of being about exactly what it says on the tin, is a banger that will bring out the Hadouken! fan that most of us buried deep down in 2008.

But the album’s standout track is indisputably The Life of Brian. Tracks that serve as open letters to family members will invariably be compared to Eminem, who almost built a career off of his songs about his mom, but Chris’ is personal to such a level it packs its own unique sucker punch to the gut.

The tracks tells of a man who screwed over his entire family by taking loans to finance his addiction. Even he church-bell beat is reminiscent of Slim Shady but the lyrics are all Leese. It’s a savage interjection into what is largely a feel-good album, but it certainly proves that Chris Leese is much more than a one-trick pony.

Surprisingly, Chris keeps his almost-inimitable quickfire rapping in his back pocket until the album closer Full Time when he goes all out, Gatling-gunning syllables at an inescapable speed. It’s a trick up the sleeve that he’ll always have, but Big Shots proves that it’s not the only trick he’s got up there.

Big Shots is available from Innit Records on Monday, June 13th.

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