Skepta — Nirvana (ft. J Balvin)

Grime icon Skepta just dropped his new EP, All In (via Boy Better Know), the first we’ve heard from him in a solo capacity since his excellent 2019 album Ignorance Is Bliss. The EP’s title is supposedly inspired by the rapper’s newfound love of poker and judging by its lead single, “Nirvana,” he really does go all in. Stellar names such as Kid Cudi and Teezee feature elsewhere on the new record but “Nirvana” features arguably the biggest collaborator, Latin reggaeton superstar J Balvin.

It’s an upscale sex anthem befitting someone of Skepta and J Balvin’s current stature. The track naturally dips in and out of energetic English and sultry Spanish, dovetailing delicately. Skepta cockily lays out his plans to convince his new love interest into being with him. “I like the way she walk in the Prada,” he enthuses. “I’m tryna take you to your Nirvana / Don’t worry ‘bout who’s gonna pay the bill / Baby, de nada.”

He sounds confident and commanding on the track but the KLVDR-directed video offers an unsettling twist ending to proceedings: After finding work as a fancy butler at an upmarket estate, Skepta soon catches the eye of the female proprietor of the house, becoming romantically entwined with her. Just when things look like they’re heating up, Skepta pushed down upon a bed, the video swiftly cuts to him lying instead on a cold cell floor, where Balvin is already tied to a chair, blood on his shirt. Wooing a love interest, Skepta seems to say, isn’t always straightforward.

It’s a welcome lead offering from the British legend after he previously featured on “Lane Switcha,” a song from the F9 soundtrack, alongside A$AP Rocky and Pop Smoke earlier this year. Rumors persist that Skepta is ready to quit music for good but, on the strength of a track like “Nirvana,” that would be a sad occurrence.