To enjoy dan le sac vs Scroobius Pip’s first record, Angles, one needed to be able to take Pip’s (or David Meads’s, if you like) incessant preaching with more than just a pinch of salt. For almost an hour, the listener was bombarded with lectures on the dilapidated state of society and youth culture, criticism of our susceptibility to revere musicians with so much enthusiasm, and overt parades of the Essex-born MC’s obscure frames of reference. Even though the album’s preamble suggested “having some good old-fashioned fun,” what followed was a series of prosaic sermons that often felt pompous and patronizing. This issue needed to be rectified for their sophomore effort, The Logic of Chance, if only to prevent Pip from turning into that smug schoolteacher that students don’t take very seriously.
The Logic of Chance is a more typically British export than its forerunner in that le sac (a.k.a. Daniel Stephens) adopts dubstep and garage as the dominant themes in his beats and many of Pip’s lyrics are centered on specifically British topics. “Stake a Claim” bemoans their country’s current political climate, “Last Train Home” chronicles an unpleasant journey on the U.K.‘s grubby public transport service, and “Great Britain” weighs up the pros (few) and cons (many) of her majesty’s society and culture, dwelling on the horrifically high crime statistics and the flawed methods with which the situation has been handled. As you might expect, given the subject matter, these tracks catch Pip in unabashed preacher mode, making the same mistakes that almost completely ruined the duo’s debut. The latter has Meads quoting a series of facts and figures surrounding knife crime, abandoning his rhyme schemes to educate the listener in agonizingly dogmatic fashion. Granted, there are instances where the MC snaps a beguiling couplet or illuminates an amusing observation, but these instances come nowhere near often enough to sustain such high-handed prose.
While le sac’s work behind the mixing desk was the saving grace on Angles, his headfirst forays into palpably grimy British subgenres don’t work as well as he might have hoped. le sac embraces these styles enthusiastically, but his contribution to their annals never goes beyond their most common genre tropes. “The Beat” tackles dubstep and assimilates all its usual adornments (syncopated rhythm, propulsive sub-bass line) but presents them in such a rudimentary package that it only ever feels like an assembly-line dubstep number. “Sick Tonight” takes on drum n’ bass with similarly disappointing results, while “Cowboi” rounds off the record with an excruciating bout of morose balladry (cue acoustic guitar, elegant string samples, and an overindulgent chorus). Never mind wet—this is absolutely soaked to the skin.
And this is where The Logic of Chance suffers most: taking itself too seriously. Pip freely tips his hat to hip-hop’s finest, but never has his work settled anywhere near a groove that made theirs so enjoyable. Moreover, two albums into this cooperative campaign, it’s becoming impossible to put up with Pip’s bumptious lectures. Unless you’re looking for a barrage of high school philosophy and preschool political musings, The Logic of Chance is best left to gather dust.