I always get asked "so what's going on in Grime right now?". This blog attempts to sum up the last 6 months in one post. Here goes...
Albums - I know a lot of people are afraid of using that word in this scene. They call their full length vocal cds a whole bunch of shitty names, but just to spare any confusion, we will call all of these releases albums for this blog, regardless of what the artist has referred to them as.
The first full length release of the year was Durrty Goodz 'Ultrasound' which was driven by the hype of the clash with Wiley involving Crazy Titch. Like most Grime releases this year it was driven by the belief that he is the best in the scene. There is a lot of forgetable material on it, but standout productions from Nocturnal hold it together in places. The stand out tune for me, 'Grime Killers' produced by Maniac samples the conversation I had with Dotun Adebayo on BBC London Radio last summer and turns it in to a massacre of those trying to 'kill the scene'. I look forward to the long awaited 'Born Blessed' project as that is likely to have better production and hopefully more interesting concepts then 'House Wife', 'More To The Floor' and 'Party & Rave'.
It's no secret that Newham Generals are my favourite act on the planet. Newham Gens fans have been waiting for this since 2005 and four years later, im just glad to own a CD from them. It is not the best album ever, but the stand out songs are nothing short of classic. 'Bell Dem Slags', described by the Guardian as a 'group sex hymn' is what the Grime scene lacks sometimes, a bit of tongue in cheek humour. It helps having all the lyrics in the inlay for those that haven't been listening to Newham Generals 7-9 every Sunday on Rinse for the past 4 years. My criticism of this CD is it doesn't have a few tunes we know and love, like "Move to the beat" and 'Merked Again' featuring Badness. Minor details of D Double E's debut album have come from the Dirty Stank camp have emerged, but dont hold your breath. If you want a compilation of D Double E's best check: D Double E Volume One.
Frisco has a pretty consistent work rate, a CD a year, popular tunes, and catchy lyrics. Logan battered Ignorant, Ignorant Remix and Big Man Ting in 2008 so you knew what to expect from the CD. The other stand out tunes 'Darkside' and 'Say My Name' are catchy and well produced but just talk about MCs which gets a bit tedious after a while. Being a Grime MC is quite competitive, but I think it would be better to make normal songs, then say you are the best off the record, instead of saying your the best on them. Hopefully the album 'Fully Grown' will have some good concepts and BBK production, if so, it will be one to remember. I am a fan of Friscos delivery, production and live presence but B2DL2 is better.
Skepta & Wileys releases have by far been the most anticipated. They have been on one of the scenes biggest tunes of the year "Too Many Man" (which is on both albums) and been involved in one of the most high profile lyrical exchanges this year. Skepta's - In The Country and Wileys - Barnet Dub both seem pretty odd war dubs, but had the internet going nuts for about 20 minutes. First lets talk about...
One of my issues with Grime acts is they don't know what their best songs are. My two favourite Skepta songs over the past year are NOT on this CD. Nokia Charger Wire & King of Grime should be on this CD. They are better tracks then Skepta, Look Out, Sticks & Stones, Lush, Emotions, Gingerbread Man; you get the idea right? They could of at least been B Sides to Too Many Man or Sunglasses At Night. Just seems like a waste. What is actually on there is alright, but again full up of too much "I am the best", "You MCs are this, you MCs are that" bullshit. The standout tune for me is Disguise as you wouldn't expect that sort of humour from an album dominated by bravado. Hopefully they make a proper video for it, it is a shame that people who consume music on television still will only see Skeptas recent output as Rolex Sweep and Sunglasess At Night because he still does have awesome delivery, original production and good lyrics. For the next release, just needs a couple of better hooks, and less lyrics about Skepta. More music about trannies please!
It isn't his 'Boy In The Corner' as he promised. It is good though, in places. I was like you, Average Worker, Wheres My Brother and Out Of The Game are some of Wileys best vocal work so far. The production is the best so far this year. Maniac, Bless Beats, Danny Weed and Skeamz have the stand out productions. Amazingly Wiley only has two beats on here. It even has production from Dubstep heavyweight Skream, but it is one of the corniest tunes Wiley has ever done, and thats saying something. If you didn't know, Skream also remixed Wheres My Brother into a Funky jam. Madness! Overall the album is Wiley still at his best, he doesn't show any signs of weakness on the CD at all. The next release I believe is 'Living It Up' so it defintely won't be the last we are hearing of Eskiboy this year.
Spyro's Rinse CD mixes up all that is Grime, Dubstep, Garage & Funky. Not many can do it well, but Spyro falls into the few DJs that can mix it up well. This CD is pretty much what a Spyro club set is, quick mixing, chopping, old and new and as always exclusive Terror Danjah & DOK productions.
This is the first year of instrumental CDs being prominent in the Grime Scene, producers make next to nothing producing for MC's so it is good they can sell their work now without vinyl coming out. It is good to get influxes of 15 or so instrumentals at a time, as when you are listening to radio, DJs can pick from such a wide array of recent tunes, whether they choose to is another thing, but at least the option is there.
Nocturnal lead the way this year. After producting Ghetts smash hit "Dont Phone Me" and a decent chunk of Durrty Goodz Ultrasound, it was a straight purchase to hear what else he has been making. My personal favourites are 'Vet' and 'Stop'.
Following closely behind with big production that has dominated sets for the past year or two now is Rinse FM DJ Silencer. Stand out tunes are "Dirtbag" and "Goblin". You can also check some of his vocal work with Jammer, Skepta and Ghetts.
Swindle's production you won't hear on the average Grime set when MC's are going at it. But it is still wicked. His CD features the instrumentals to some of his vocal work that has included names like No Lay, Double S, Ghetts, Roll Deep and more. Stand out tunes are 'Swaggeristic' and 'Generations'. Look out for his vocal project later in the year called 'Funk N Grime' which is sounding big so far.
Is Maniac the best Grime producer? I don't think this answers it, as I don't feel it has all his best work, but this is a solid compilation of new and old instrumentals. Although it will be a long time before we get new Maniac again, this will keep us quiet for a long time to come. Stand out tunes for me are 'G.R.I.M.E.' & 'Ugly'.
Never going to be much in this category, but Logans Earth 616 Label, Silencer, Keysound and Jokers Kapsize Label have delivered strong releases. I won't go into too much details on each one, but if you buy vinyl, pick them up!
I'm not going to pretend like there is classic radio every week, but this year it hasn't been that bad. The most consistent appearances on radio has to go to P Money & Blacks. Most weeks they end up one of the flagship Grime shows on Rinse or Westwood, Logan or one of the lesser known internet stations. One to check is them on Logan back in May
Boy Better Know have still been popping up on Rinse occasionally. 15th June saw an epic set featuring Skepta JME Tempa T Blacks Frisco Flowdan and more, reminicent of how Roll Deep 9-11 on Sundays used to be not to long ago.
I have a radio show on Rinse FM as well, a couple of my favourite sets are the one featuring Spyro & JJ and featuring Swindle Silencer & JJ both a bit chaotic, but MC free, jammed pack full of great Grime music. We also got to do a DJ special with Westwood earlier in the year which you can check here.
You can check all our old sets here.
And finally, to end this epic post.
I'm looking forward to Tempz release, hopefully will be in the same vain as this. No hip hop, funky or weird emotional music.
Don't expect any credible releases until September, everyone is on holiday now, and in the final quarter expect releases from Lethal B, Terror Danjah, Ghetts, Chipmunk, Goodz, Tempa T, P Money, Griminal, Double S, JME, Swindle, Joker, J2K, Rapid, Tinchy, Dot Rotton, Jammer, Ice Kid and many more...
Have a good holiday everyone, bring me back something nice.