The Breakdown | Chip - Snakes & Ladders
2021 couldn't have started boring with Chip on the scene. The Tottenham MC started his journey by getting into a clash with Stormzy, leading to a crazy diss song called ‘Ten Commandments’. All this clashing with Stormzy has led to the rapper being one of the most looked at artists so far in 2021. Nonetheless, another reason for his current buzz is because of his highly anticipated mixtape called 'Snakes & Ladders’.
The mixtape released on 29/01/2021 featuring artists such as Bugzy Malone, Headie One, MoStack, Young MA, Young Adz and many more. The new body of work expected to meet high standards due to the release of enjoyable singles such as ‘Ignite’, ‘Lumidee’, ‘Killer MC’, ‘Flowers’, and the `Daily Duppy’. Nonetheless, 'Snakes & Ladders' is a fantastic project which showcases his lyrical ability, versatility, and music production. Overall these three elements of the mixtape contribute to a sound that is captivating for the ear.
The meaning behind the name of the mixtape is intriguing. The UK music fanbase probably already convinced themselves that the title's connotation is concerning the Stormzy beef, and to an extent the drama with Stormzy has influenced Chip's meaning behind the title, evident in his lyrics. However, there is a bigger picture behind the name of the album. The title's fundamental definition is Chip has made it up the ladder becoming the top MC in the UK. Nonetheless, going up the ladder has led to him encountering snakes, not just Stormzy.
Moreover, focusing on the meaning of ‘ladders’, Chip boasts about being at the top of the game. In his intro song 'No Goat' he self proclaims himself as ‘the coldest in the country’. With this self-proclaimed position, the rapper holds no remorse and states no one can come against him. To make it obvious, he reasons why no one can clash him in the rap game. This competitive nature Chip holds to protect his status leads to him mentioning Stormzy throughout his mixtape. Chip's lyrics don't indicate Stormzy directly. However, due to current situations, and the way Chip words his lines, it makes it easy for the listeners to realise he's attacking Stormzy. For example, in ‘Ignite’, Chip dwells into the situation with Stormzy, stating ‘he's alright not the best though (fire), clap on sight, take the cheque, no (fire)’. Then further mentions ‘take no prisoners, let go (fire)’. This lyric reflects the Stormzy beef as Chip showed no hesitation in attacking Stormzy through diss tracks in 2020 and 2021.
To further the last point, lyrics in 'Ignite' correlate with other songs in the mixtape. For instance 'Flowers' complement those lyrics in 'Ignite'. Complement in the sense that it's now becoming obvious that Chip is dissing Stormzy. 'Flowers' is a confirmed diss track towards Stormzy, one line that stands out in this song is ‘every year, a new Judas, now it's you imagine’. This bar shows that Chip is not attacking Stormzy for being a potential threat, but for being a snake. Also, this lyric is ironic because Chip mocks Stormzy for being a ‘fake’ Christian, and due to seeing him as a hypocrite, comparing Stormzy to Judas adds insult to injury. When understanding these lyrics, other lines in the album make more sense as they connect. The song 'See Through' links with 'Flowers' as it uses biblical references to describe the relationship between Chip and Stormzy. ‘Undertakers and Kanes, turn into Cain and Abels, eyes closed, I can spot the Judas at the table’. Also, this gives more of an understanding of why Chip refers to him as a snake. Chip saw Stormzy as a brother, but feels that Stormzy backstabbed him as he was jealous and envied him. Unfortunately, this led to their relationship falling apart.
In conjunction with the preceding details, there are so many different parts of the album that reveals Chip drawing out Stormzy. For example in 'Flowers', Chip asserts ‘this about GOATs and Kings, this is not about ends, but just in case you all forgot, it's North side (ah) GOAT means the greatest of all time, to me, that's Jay-Z (mm)’. Chip's bars imply that Stormzy will never be at that level of greatness in the UK scene. Also, Stormzy has stated that he's the ‘King of Grime’, which gives Chip more reason to shut him down this way. Ironically, Chip named his intro song 'No Goat'. In 'No Goat', Chip has an interlude saying ‘you ain't no GOAT mate, you a sheep’. This line relates to the previous bar in 'Flowers' concerning Stormzy not being a GOAT. 'No Goat' then mentions subliminal lines that relate to Stormzy's persona. However, the most imperative bar is how Chip claims that Stormzy can never be a GOAT because Chip holds that position. The Tottenham rapper contends that he has influenced the music industry with versatility, flow, and wordplay henceforth the reason he's the top artist.
In other respect, there is more to this mixtape than beef with Stormzy. Chip has insisted that he has climbed to the top, becoming the coldest MC in the country. Throughout 'Snakes & Ladders' Chip mentions why he's at the top. The Tottenham MC highlights that he has the best bars, hasn't run out of lyrics, and he's versatile. 'Snakes & Ladders' reflects this because the project has multiple sounds including Dancehall, Grime, Drill, and Afro-Beats. Versatility has always been a strength of Chip's previous albums, adjusting to new sounds in the music industry has enabled him to be relevant for the last ten years. Also, being versatile has allowed him to expand his fanbase. Especially to the younger generations because they do not resonate too much with Grime music.
In 'No Goat' Chip mentions that this separates him from other UK artists as they struggle to be versatile.
Therefore, this results in them becoming irrelevant, hence why they cannot be at the top. One song that stands out is 'Done Know' featuring Headie One. 'Done Know' shows to the audience that the rapper's skillset is adaptable to this sound, a sound that's not familiar to him. Chip has done a number of Drill songs, some of them being features. The artist uses this opportunity to highlight how his technique can evolve comfortability to a new sound. Comfortable in the sense that he doesn't try to be something he isn't. Chip sticks to what he does best, using wordplay, and for his wordplay to be effective in a Drill song, he alternates his rap style.
To summarise, ‘Snakes & Ladders’ was heavily influenced by the drama with Stormzy which had an effect on the mixtape's tone and title. The lyrics highlight Stormzy as a snake. Chip asserted from his bars (Cain & Abel) that Stormzy was jealous of him, and with Chip claiming the title as the top MC in the UK, he has used his position to discredit the artist. Nevertheless, this beef shouldn't merely define this mixtape. Chip's ability to song write is recognisable throughout the project and it has led to him being at the top of the ladder. Overall, this project is a masterpiece. By the end of 2021, it will be no surprise if it ends up being in the conversation for project of the year.