After much promo and a very lengthy wait, grime’s most fascinating character steps up to present his latest in a long catalogue of releases that spans more than a decade. There can be no doubt that Wiley has had an fascinating career, he’s forged a genre that is doing better than it has ever done now, he’s had number one singles, he’s had plenty of beefs, he’s been tangled in many a controversy and he’s done all that while enthralling, captivating and capturing the imaginations of anyone who’s ever paid attention to him.
‘Godfather’ is an album that has an impressive array of features scattered across no less than 17 tracks. Across each track, Wiley sounds like an artist full of conviction, he sounds rejuvenated in an era of grime that’s healthier than it’s ever been before. Wiley has released plenty of music over the years but in a time where grime’s stature is growing by the minute, it’s very easy for an artist to get left behind if they lose their mojo. Wiley however certainly hasn’t lost his, in fact, for this album’s sake, he’s redefined it to include some of the same eski energy that made his legendary productions from the early 00s so revered, the spirit of Eskiboy is very much apparent in ‘Godfather’.
‘Can’t Go Wrong’ is exactly the sort of rip-roaring track that demonstrates grime’s authenticity and greater support, something that cannot be ignored any longer. With the booming bass and hard-hitting strings on production, ‘Can’t Go Wrong’ is not only an anthem but a sign of clarity. Wiley is widely known as a pioneer of UK urban music, however he hasn’t always been fully comfortable in his own skin throughout his lengthy career. ‘Can’t Go Wrong’ and the album as a whole however paints Wiley as an artist much more accepting of his own position as an icon in underground music.
With an album made an by an icon, it needs some equally as iconic features; P Money’s absolutely murders his verse in the remix of ‘P Money’, Devlin partners Wiley with real vigour on ‘Bring Them All / Holy Grime’, Ghetts’ seamless flow and bars are heavily prominent in ‘Bang’, the irresistible presence of Newham Generals & the unorthodox yet cutthroat President T yarn tales from grime’s “old school” in ‘Joe Bloggs’ while there’s a definite Roll Deep and Boy Better Know feel to this album with members from both camps scattered across the album, seeing all these heavyweight names feature surely shows the level of respect Wiley has gained over the years but taking all those features aside, when it comes to the man himself, it’s clear that Wiley has been on an eventful journey to be in the place he is now as the ‘Godfather’. Take ‘My Direction’ for example, it’s a track that themes his roots from grime’s early days when he was notorious for clashing MCs, Wiley has that warlord mentality, he is confident, he is fearless, he is a titan that fears no war, the fact he has Devlin, Ghetts and Lethal Bizzle, all MCs that have clashed with Wiley in the past on this album is a triumphant irony. At the same though, ‘U Were Always, Pt 2’, a follow up to the track ‘U Were Always’ which Wiley released back in 2009 is a wifey riddim, giving the album a softer touch. Wiley is also seen as a mentor, a guy who MCs can credit for them entering the grime scene so to have Chip and Ice Kid, two MCs he famously brought through on the Tim Westwood show on Radio One back in the day featuring on ‘On This’ represents a sly blast from the past, Ice Kid in particular is an interesting feature considering he’s an artist schooled in the arts of being as unfathomable as Wiley himself.
‘Godfather’ is an album with plenty of variety but that doesn’t necessary mean that it flows effortlessly from one track to another. There’s no doubt the tracks don’t lack quality but ‘Godfather’ isn’t the sort of album where fans will have an universal liking to all of the tracks, one track on here can easily reverberate with one fan but another fan listening to the same track may feel very different about it. As there are so many artists that feature on this album, you have to consider that tracks have to be right to their certain styles and not everyone is going to like hearing so many different styles in the same project.
Despite being one of most known faces in grime, Wiley is an enigma and a pretty emphatic one at that. His notorious penchant for not turning up to events or cutting his appearances at them short form part of his legacy in the game, he’s in a league of his own when it comes to his ability to be so unpredictable, you don’t know what his next move will be. Trying to unlock his mental and musical psyche over the years is like trying to solve a Rubik Cube behind your back whilst blindfolded, to say his career has been puzzling is an understatement considering the man is arguably grime’s answer to Where’s Wally. Considering he lives in Cyprus now and according to him, he’s reached the end of his career in terms of proving anything, perhaps it’s fitting that the album is called ’Godfather’. In the current circumstances, the album is alluded to be Wiley’s swansong in his career but then again, Wiley is a master of reinventing himself so don’t take his words too seriously. For a man who has been the centre of attention for so long, who knows what he’ll do next, I’m not even sure if the man himself completely knows what his next steps will be.
From the way I was vibzing to this in my kitchen when I heard this for the first time, I knew this EP was a percy. Grandmixxer is one of the most unique DJs and producers around at the moment. How he patterns up his sets with his trademark emotional sounding productions mean you know straight away it’s him on the deckles. When I asked him why his signature sounds are so recognisable, he described them as “his musical truth”. He also said that he doesn’t set out to make one particular sound, “my music is all emotional to me, I just get down and make it, I brought a Triton which a lot of the early grime pioneers were using so you could call my sound Triton based or grime as it was”. ‘Balcony Music’ is inspired by one of the first tunes Grandmixxer ever made which to him had all the elements that he wanted in it, to him, it was a coming of age as a producer.
The EP includes 3 tracks all of essentially the same name; ‘Balcony Music’, ‘Balcony Music 2’ and ‘Balcony Music – Angel Mix’ as well as the contrasting track, ‘Dragonball Z’. With his label, South London Space Agency launching soon and a special bonus track released to mark the EP, Grandmixxer’s not sure what other plans he has but he assured me that whatever comes in the future, it will be big. ‘Balcony Music’ is out now, click on the artwork below to listen to and buy the EP.
DaVinChe – #POWERS
Unless you’re new to grime, if you don’t know who DaVinChe is, you need to come out of the cave you’ve been dwelling in and hold this L. DaVinChe is an R&G don, a respected producer in the game and more importantly, he’s a guy with powers in abundance. In just 14 days, DaVinChe managed to get 32 artists together to make an album, entirely produced by himself. With this album full of singers, rappers and MCs all together, this album is pretty much like a pic-a-mix bag of sweets, there’s tracks in here that everyone can enjoy whether you want to power up or just reconnect with the feelings you were afraid to catch. There are older faces in here as well as newer ones and the combos that they pattern up on this album are pretty interesting, there are tracks that have artists together that you wouldn’t necessary think would go together but actually end up jamming together well. Considering how difficult it can be to put an album and making sure it’s as perfect as it can be, it’s extraordinary that DaVinChe made this album in just a fortnight featuring this many artists but then again, DaVinChe is a pretty extraordinary person, he’s had the #POWERS from early.
Eyez – Never Ever
The start of a new year presents the chance for artists under the radar to make a name for themselves and off the back of captaining Derby to victory in the final of the Red Bull Grime-A-Side, Eyez is out here starting the year on the front foot, trying to cement the momentum he made last year with the music video for his track ‘Never Ever’. Eyez’s witty wordplay, punchy bars and confident swagger are getting more and more recognition and while he’s still underrated, this year presents the opportunity for him to make an impact, he’s not an emcee to be slept on.
Big Zuu – Fire In The Booth
There’s not many in the game who have as much energy as Big Zuu, the West Londoner’s ferocious cannon-like flow allows him to dump a whole heap of bombs whenever he shells down. With bars upon bars in his lyrical arsenal, Zuu graced Charlie Sloth’s Saturday Night Rap Show to do his debut Fire In The Booth. Zuu as always shells down with at least 110% energy. Looking at his performance, it’s almost as if he’s going to explode, a lyrical combustion happening before our very eyes as he uses the power of the serious joints to burn down the booth, Big Zuu is here to stay in 2017.
Mr. ‘Man A Wear Black’ himself is going to busy with a pair of upcoming motives. Firstly, on the 2nd of February, he’s celebrating his birthday in style at the Notting Hill Arts Club in collaboration with Pardon My Blog and Movin Anti, the night will also be raising funds for two charities as well so donations will be welcome. If that isn’t enough, Donae’O will be going in at his debut headline show at The Camden Assembly on the 16th of March. It’s mad thinking Donae’O is only having his debut headline show this year considering how long he’s been clarting down the clubs, delivering the vibes to make all the mandem & all the gyaldem move to each other during his music career but considering that he signed onto the Island Records label, cementing his first major record deal just this month, it seems appropriate to celebrate that achievement with an event that will surely mark much more to come from the talented artist. Click on the pictures below to find out more about the events including coping tickets.
Slimzos Recordings Doing Bits
If you don’t know about Slimzos Recordings, they’re a grime record label that started during grime’s early days when grime (still without a name) was just garage’s new but darker sounding younger brother. The label is run by the iconic DJ Slimzee, a pioneer who co-founded Rinse FM and was one of the early trailblazers in the scene. Even to this day, Slimzee is still the guy when it comes to dubplate exclusives so as a producer, if he spins your stuff, know that it’s going to pop off. That same feeling existed back in the day, his sets on pirate radio the stuff of legend, his work with the likes of Rinse FM, Pay As You Go Cartel, Roll Deep and his contribution on Dizzee Rascal’s Boy In Da Corner album no doubt place him as a juggernaut in not just grime but UK underground music. Wiley may be the ‘Godfather’ when it comes to MCs but Slimzee is the ‘Godfather’ when it comes to DJs.
Unfortunately for Slimzee, he got slapped with an ASBO in 2005, meaning he was unable to place radio transmitters on top of tower blocks for pirate radio, in fact he wasn’t even allowed to go above the fifth floor of any building otherwise he’d go to jail. After that, Slimzee went quiet and left the underground music scene.
Fast forward to now and things are much different, Slimzee’s back in the game, back on Rinse and catching up on lost time. As for his label, that too hibernated when the label owner went into the shadows but this month, Trends, a DJ and producer who’s part of the Slimzos Recordings family dropped an EP on the label. ‘In The Jungle/Iron Fist’ isn’t the only activity in the label, a 4-part All Stars EP is due to drop soon featuring Stirling, Dallen, Garna and AS.IF KID. If that wasn’t enough, on the 22nd of March, the label is hosting an event called ‘Slimzos Sessions’. Slimzee is hosting the event along with the likes of Macabre Unit, J Cush, DJ Argue and more plus special guest MCs spitting bars too. The event’s taking place at The Nest in Dalston, North London from 9PM-2AM.
Slimzos Recordings. Back on the grid and looking to write new memories for a new chapter in a renewed genre.
AJ Tracey – Buster Cannon (Rapture 4D Bootleg)
There’s no doubt that when AJ Tracey released ‘Buster Cannon’ last year, the first track released off his ‘Lil Tracey’ EP that the track was just a little bit special. Canadian producer & MC Tre Mission naturally has to take a lot of credit for the single’s success seeing as he produced it, the production a perfect fit for AJ’s smooth yet striking flow.
The song definitely had a positive impact on Scottish producer Rapture 4D because he’s only gone and made a bootleg for it and made the already spacey sounding riddim sound even more out of this world. The Glasgewian already has a reputation for being a bit of a refix don and this latest instrumental from him hopefully means we’ll be seeing more work of this quality on his new Plasma Abuse label that he and fellow producer Polonis recently started. Rapture’s futuristic sounding bootleg is available for free download, check it out.
New Crown Jules EPs
You know them ones when you’re waiting for a bus to turn up and two of them show up at the same time, well anyone waiting for a “bus” to appear from Crown Jules can expect to see two of them coming together as the label has released two new EPs.
Firstly, you have the smooth ‘Ambience 2’ EP, a mellow five track collection that will make you want to put your slippers on and chill out to the ambient sounds of J Beatz as well as contributions from Juzlo and Limit. Secondly comes the ‘4 Way 3’ EP featuring a mixture of frenzied and calm riddims, a collaboration between Levlz, Limit & J Beatz, Sean D and Sware.
The EPs are out now, click on the artworks below.
Freeza Chin’s Ghetto Gospel Mix
This year marks a landmark, it’s been ten years since Ghetts (or Ghetto as he was known before) released his second album ‘Ghetto Gospel’. To mark the occasion, Canadian DJ and Tizzy Gang representer Freeza Chin put together a special mix and premiered it on Radar Radio to mark the anniversary, the mix is packed the best of the best of Ghetts’ songs. If you’re a fan of Ghetts, I suggest you listen to this mix to either go down memory lane or embark on a musical Mecca and enlighten yourself with the sounds of one of the most influential spitters to come out of East London.
Breakage – Hard (feat. Newham Generals & David Rodigan (2009))
Ending GM6, we go down memory lane with this killer dubstep meets grime track from producer Breakage featuring the mighty Newham Generals as well as the voice of David Rodigan, a stalwart in the reggae and dancehall scene, Rodigan is certainly a man who knows his way around a dubplate clash. Footsie & D Double E have been hard from day, arguably there’s not a better pairing than those two when they’re going b2b, no surprise that they duppied this instrumental.
Wagwan peeps, hope you enjoyed Christmas Day, munching on your turkey and brussels sprouts and dat. Ang tite the pants & socks gang and the all the dons who got Lynx Africa shower packs as Christmas presents this year. 2016 can’t finish quicker enough, the year when everyone tried to do the most for all the wrong reasons, Phil Mitchell slowly dying whilst somehow managing to get Denise pregnant sums up this year, moral of the story ladies, don’t drink too much Lambrini, their adverts are selling you a dream, don’t fall for the sheggery. 2017 is almost here and a lot of you basic guys and girls will be getting ready to back the ‘New Year, New Me’ bollocks next month. I know damn well a lot of you are not going to lose weight at the gym as you promised or get your lives together for the year ahead. With Netflix, Snapchat, Just Eat and the January sales all distracting you, by the end of the month, you’ll all be back to your pretentious, glutinous, self-righteous old selves. The ladies all clad with chokers will be tryna flex with their dodgy looking Louis Vuitton handbags, fake Michael Kors watches, ripped jeans and khaki bomber jackets, taking about 400 selfies, hoping between the Valencia filter on Instagram and the new make-up they got over Christmas that they won’t look clapped while the mandem kitted out with Huaraches, bootlegged Stone Island garms, Gucci belts and Giuseppes who after partaking in a having a cheeky Nandos, will be sliding into DMs as if they’re jumping down a slip n slide. If it looks like I’m ridiculing a lot of people, I just want to say from the bottom of my heart, I’d like to take the chance to apologise to absolutely nobody. Rants does what the fuck he wants. Here’s the last Grimey Mondays of 2016 ya bastards.
Jammz’s Headline Show To Mark Warrior EP
Those would be the words I’d use to describe this night after going to Shoreditch’s Old Blue Last for Jammz‘s Headline Show to mark the release of his new ‘Warrior’ EP. Jammz has been one of the most consistent and hard-working artists in the game and from the music he’s put out this year, his efforts have not gone in vain. With ‘Underdog Season Volume 1’ alongside DJ Jack Dat, the Trends & Mr Dubz produced ‘Mr Wait’, his ’10 Missed Calls’ collaboration with Dread D on the Local Action label, the Annie Mac championed track ‘Get What I Mean’ as well as his debut release on his I Am Grime label ‘Keep It Simple/The World’, Jammz has provided 2016 with a batch of high-quality, unrelenting sounds, you can literally feel the energy from every production he’s been involved with. However, it’s this newest of releases which the event was all about that for me speaks the most volumes. ‘Warrior’ is an EP that touches on some very real issues with Jammz’s portraying some very frustrated and exasperated tones throughout the project. It’s an EP that pulls no punches and given the fact that all the vinyl releases for ‘Warrior’ have sold out, it’s no surprise that people have been more than willing to back the Hackney MC.
As for this night in particular, it was well worth going. Free drinks at the bar are obviously going to put anyone in a good mood and as for the show, it’s definitely didn’t let itself down. With a whole bag of MCs and DJs there plus a raccous crowd ready to take in the levels, this night went off, big time! But instead of me telling you how exactly the night went, I thought it would be better if I let the pictures & videos do the talking, enjoy:
There you have it, vibes upon vibes in the place, my phone’s battery didn’t survive the night! One last thing, I said all the vinyl releases for ‘Warrior’ sold out, well guess who managed to get their hands on one to add to the ‘Keep It Simple/The World’ vinyl release earlier this year:
After weeks of promo and the releases of singles ‘Panasonic’ and ‘Gunfingers’, P Money finally gives up ‘Live & Direct’, his first album. There had been something in the air in the weeks before the album’s release that it might just be a bit special and judging by the features that P Money’s managed to get on the album, it has the potential to stay in the ears of listeners long into 2017. P has matured as an MC over the years and to be honest, he’s spitting harder than I’ve ever heard him do, it’s impossible to ignore the conviction or the hunger in his voice. Onwards and upwards for the OG next year.
AJ Tracey – Lil Tracey
What an end to the year it’s been for the MTP sheller. People are watching out for AJ Tracey in 2017 with him being linked to great things with co-signs from Vevo, Apple Music and the BBC, it’s not a surprise considering his new EP called ‘Lil Tracey’. AJT personifies the rise to prominence of the UK urban music scene, the bars and flows he weaves together on tracks are unmistakable, with elements of both rap and grime in his repertoire, it seems that it was only a matter of time before people really paid attention to him. ‘Lil Tracey’ is slick, cutthroat yet refreshingly honest, as a whole, it’s an EP that makes an impression that you simply can’t overlook, AJ Tracey’s going places in 2017.
Armour – Pepper Pot
Nasty Crew alumni Armour unleashes his devastating ‘Pepper Pot’ track. After dropping his ‘Bun A Fire’ freestyle for Bluku Music earlier this year, Armour rolls in by blessing his bars onto ‘Pepper Pot’, a beat made by Hardrive Records producer P Jam. One of the few patois-inspired MCs at the moment, Armour’s got a style of flow that would bully any rave so with a flow like his, you need the weighty beats to accompany it and luckily, P Jam doesn’t fail to disappoint with his absolute madness of a riddim.
If you like the sound of the riddim alone, you can buy it plus the track ‘Chalice’ on a vinyl record, it’s out now.
Kahn & Neek Go Through Their Favourite Dubplates
After Slimzee, Spooky and Score5ive went through their favourite dubplates, FACTmag decided to pay a visit to Bristolian producer duo Kahn & Neek for them to choose their favourite dubplates. The producers have built a reputation over the last few years of absolutely lenging it down in raves across the country. With their brand of reggae, grime and bass sounding riddims, it’s not a surprise that they’ve built up quite a collection of vinyl records. Bristol’s underground music scene is one of the strongest in the UK with the likes of Asa, Sorrow, Boofy, Hi5Ghost, Lemzly Dale, Invader Spade and Sir Hiss all hailing from there, their sounds range across a number of genres from grime to dub to garage to the sort of sounds that most people wouldn’t even be able to class into a genre.
Check out the full tracklist for Kahn & Neek’s selections here and also go cop their FABRICLIVE 90 compilation which is out now.
Neffa-T In The Mix
For a DJ, there must be little better than being able to make the wickedest mix and blends pon di two decks. To be able to do the mix and blends while slicing and dicing the riddims like a chef chopping vegetables while skenging it down so hard it looks like you might break something off the mixer while at the same time mixing using THREE decks instead of two might sound farcical, an impossible task. Not for Neffa-T though, he’ll just make you hold his beer and do this:
For Neffa-T or should I call him Choppa-T after he finishes making you hold his beer recently did a mix compromising entirely of releases from the White Peach Records label. Like the video above, this mix is done using three decks, quite the impressive feat. Listen to the mix below and find out about the tracklist here.
Terminator – F64 (2009)
Seeing as it’s Christmas, I thought why not include some festive joy in here and I can’t think of better person to spread the festivity than the infamous Darkside Pioneer himself, the one, the only, Terminator. While his bars to some may sound like utter filth (foolish people), Terminator is a misunderstood enigma who’s always been true to himself, honing his style and sharpening his lyrical craft. T is his own man, the man pioneered his own genre he’s that much of a guy. As for his freestyling abilities, T’s got a style which is comparable to none, is he merely spraying bars or is he confessing to crimes of despicable quality, we’ll never know.
7 years ago to mark the Christmas time, T made his debut on SBTV with his F64, an awe-inspiring showcase of a lyrical wordsmith at work, don’t mind the pained expression on his face, that’s just all the emotion just pouring out of him. If you don’t feel touched after listening to this then I must say I have to question your taste in music.
KXVU Leading Brighton’s Underground Revival
Jay McDougall, better known by the name of KXVU (pronounced ‘kovu’) is a Brighton-based DJ and producer trying to get his city back on the map. He’s also involved with Southpoint, a music label that he and fellow Southpoint member Josh Gunston co-founded. The label acts as a platform for up and coming producers making the best in underground crud.
Considering how busy he’s been off late, I was lucky enough to have a chat with him away from his studio or should I say ‘The Cave’, the name he gave to it to discuss a few things as well as future plans. I thought it would be good to start with asking him how he got into music. He said that he got into it through the sorts of music he liked to listen, telling me how he was inspired by the likes of dubstep and dancehall as a teenager, telling me how he enjoyed the ‘clash-culture’, the essence of having live MCs spraying bars over specially made dubs. To him, “clashing is good”, it’s something I could tell he enjoys a lot so it felt nature to then ask him about his thoughts on this year’s Red Bull Culture Clash. KXVU was impressed with Mixpak and like myself, we both agreed that they deserved to win because not only did they have the best dubs, they were the team that were the most prepared, they were able to time when they dropped certain dubs better than everyone else and the impacts that they made had the more profound effects on the thousands of people there to witness the clash. Props were given to Taylor Gang, the underdogs in the clash but who came out with a lot of respect while Eskimo Dance to KXVU were “so disappointing”, a clear lack of dubs or general organisation were their ultimate downfall on the night.
Looking at now, I asked about his Southpoint label, I asked why the label came to being last year. His main answer was essentially that he wanted to revive the nightlife in Brighton and to put it back on the map. He told me about 4-5 years ago, Brighton’s music scene was thriving, it was popping with a number of artists going down to the city for performances with a number of different genres being showcased. However, Bristol’s rise in prominence as well as the shift of university students going to the city turned the tide away from Brighton, KXVU telling me that while there were a lot of artists from Brighton, not enough of them were doing enough to put respek on its name. This is where Southpoint comes in, a label that mainly focuses on UKG, grime, dubstep and what KXVU calls “140BPM music” that gives a platform for artists in the city to get their music out to a wider audience. Southpoint do club nights, showcasing the work of the producers in their roster, I said that KXVU has been busy and from looking at what’s he’s been doing of late, he isn’t joking:
With guest takeovers, his own slot on Trickstar Radio as well as the club appearances under his belt, KXVU has been working hard to get his name and his label out to a wider audience and when I asked what the ultimate goal he had in place in Southpoint, he answered that he wanted to grow the label’s roster to the point that it would be strong enough to actually take part in the Red Bull Culture Clash, a lofty goal indeed.
Now I mentioned takeovers, one takeover that happened recently was Southpoint’s takeover on Juno Download which included the release of a free EP called ‘The Takeover’ and the release of a free track called ‘Dam’ by producer Drax who’s part of the Southpoint roster. All-in-all, KXVU described it as a “positive experience” with Juno being fully supportive of the label. It’s not a surprise that Juno likes Southpoint because you’ll see a strewn of Southpoint releases on their website from their ‘KXVU Presents’ compilation to Drax’s ‘Frostie’ EP to Policy’s ‘Slink’ EP to Noble’s ‘Screwdriver’ EP to newest EP called ‘Caution’ by Hamdi and much more. For me, this is a label that totally personifies the rise of independent labels this year, for artists to be able to make the music and the connections that they want, rather than pander to industry dons who are too ignorant to realise the directions that the artists what to take, making money isn’t necessarily a driving factor to less commercialised labels. “People are getting a bit sick of recycled, watered down, commercialised versions of underground music” KXVU tells me. This has been a year where the music rather than simply being popular has taken the precedent.
Another takeover that happened recently was a takeover Southpoint did for DJ Benteki on Reprezent FM where KXVU plus guys from the roster played the music they’re repping which included plenty of Southpoint releases as well as 2 2 live bars from the MCs in the gang. Something that interested me was when the crew went to Reprezent, they were wearing Southpoint garms. To be a label, not only do you have to put out music you believe in, it helps if you can create some sort of identity, a brand that people can gravitate to so it’s positive to hear that KXVU and the mandem are kitted out in gear that pretty much acts as a uniform. As for his show on Trickstar Radio, a station which became available to DAB earlier this year, KXVU continues to push his label’s sound out across Brighton and hopefully to wider audiences as well as including phone interviews and guest mixes. Works haffi run to the max as the platform grows with new music being collected to spin every week. KXVU even writes for a website called Soapbox that acts as a database for all the new releases on the label. It’s a mammoth setup that Southpoint have in place!
As a DJ, I guess it must be important to have your own style and when it comes to dubs, KXVU likes nothing more than a dub with energy, something that gets people active. Dubs are also pretty important to him, the exclusiveness of them are what really get the attentions of those who listen to them. Having a brand of dubs to play is also important to KXVU, I asked him whether he prepared them or releases and he emphatically chose the former.
With future plans of continuing to network with as many people as possible as well as a new ‘Brighton Has MCs’ project in the pipeline, the grind continues to get Brighton’s nightlife reputation on the up for the talented DJ.
There you have it, Grimey Mondays is done for 2016. See you next year.
2016 has been a great year for music in the grime scene. The quality of the work being made and released to the masses has been of a massively high standard. In particular, there have been plenty of outstanding instrumental releases.
But why have there been so many of them this year. What is it about an EP full of beats that have been making people go crazy, why have independent labels done so well this year and how important is the relationship between them and producers in order to create bodies of work that all parties can be proud of.
In order to answer these questions, I asked a number of people; DJs, producers, label owners and other liked-minded people to myself these same questions to see what responses I got. The best way to break the ice with all the guys I asked was to ask them which instrumental EPs were their favourites from this year. Inevitably with a question as broad as this, the responses I got were varied:
“Everything Filthy Gears has released has been quality, probably my fave producer right now so it has to be his Infinity EP from earlier in the year.” DeadStockGrime (@DeadStockGrimeT)
“Syer B – Mushrooms EP, Spooky & Boylan – Oil Gang 014, Sir Pixalot – War Time EP, Scope & J Beatz – Serato.” Argue (@dj_argue)
“This year has to be Trends – Pacman EP, Spooky feat. Trends – Discharge, Boylan & Trends – Norman Bates EP, Boxed 003.” Scope (@scope_em)
“There’s a couple this year that have been a madddddting. There’s been quite a few nang EPs this year but the ones that have ticked all boxes has to be D.O.K Grove EP & Chemist’s forthcoming Sublow Movement EP……D.O.K’s EP is just pure fury. The drum patterns he uses are mad, every tune on his EP is nuts.” Misundastood (@DJMisundastood_)
“Hard to say! So much music has come out this year, and so many incredible bodies of work. My highlights have to be Impey’s Little Havana EP on Astral Black, Sorrow’s EP on Shinigrim called Arisen, and Mala did an incredible album called Mirrors which is incredibly inspiring.” Zha (@Zhamusic)
“At the start of the year I was banging out Dullah Beatz – Ballys On. I had that going daily for a long while, a good way into the year, a good majority of anything from Oil Gang is bound to be proper! I like all the Spooky stuff from lately, a couple of the JT The Goon ones, that’s a go-to label for sure. Jammz’s Keep It Simple/The World was massive, absolutely huge. Boxed 002 has been my favourite release though, that’s an incredible release. If someone wants pure, dirty, unadulterated grime, they need that EP.” Frankos (@mfcfrankos)
“This year, shout outs to the Astral Black Mobb – the FRASS FM 3 instrumental release is one I’ve went back to a lot – features a lot of the top talent in Scotland such as Dvsty, Bushido, Milktray and LVLZ brother Rapture 4D. Creep Woland’s “Observation” EP is another quality release. Other mentions this year for Polonis and his “M -Remixes” EP released on Classical Trax and again Rapture 4Ds “Mad Hing” EP – trying not to biased but can’t deny two quality releases from the weans getting a mention.” Gallus One (@GlasgowGrime)
“Jammz’s Keep It Simple / The World EP, Mischief’s Refix Champion, Gundam’s Waifu LP. Them three I copped so quick plus Filthy Gears’ The Filth Tapes Vol.1.” Mr. Krabs (@kraffulbrown)
“Pretty much everything on Hardrive, Ghost House, Oil Gang & Mean Streets, they’ve had some mad releases this year. Grove EP was sick, Kaboom is one of my top 3 tunes of the year along with Terror Danjuh – Saturn and Norman Bates. Those 3 tunes have just kwenged off 2016!” Vybe1 (@Vybe1__)
“Rapture 4D’s “Mad Hing”, Asa’s “Knight’s of Ren”, and JLSXND7R’s “Red State” EPs were all sick. “Ghosts in the Machine” by Boylan was another big one. Trends, Chemist RNS, Filthy Gears, and Swimful all dropped EPs I rated this year too. This question gets harder every year, I swear. Obviously a lot of people are waiting on Trends and Boylan’s “Norman Bates” EP as well.” Grime Disciple (@GrimeDisciple)
It’s clear from the EPs, producers and labels mentioned that the scene is as strong as it is ever been, the sheer scale of the output of music that has been released this year is actually pretty jaw-dropping when I think about it. There’s plenty of good music available but what makes an EP so entertaining to listen to:
“To me, it’s something that the producer or artist has taken a good amount of time to produce, something that they’ve literally put their heart and soul into because you can tell when it shines right through their work.” Rob (@MR_DRED_HIMSELF)
You can put your heart & soul into making a beat but it’s not as easy to do it again & again, how do producers maintain consistency:
“How the artist walks between consistency and variety is key. Some EPs sound kinda schizophrenic, like the producer just got lazy on a couple of tracks and put their energy into one “hit”. The best ones feel like you just got 4 amazing tunes at once.” Silverdrizzle (@silverdrizzle)
“I don’t think it’s hard if I give myself as an example. I make what I would like to hear and if other people like that as well then that’s a good thing for me as a producer.” JLSXND7RS (@JLSXN7RS)
“Nobody is consistent. Very rarely does a producer put out track after track that is incredible. Only the seasoned pros can do this, but for the rest of us, it is a case of making something you believe in and hoping it is original and different enough to be called unique.” Zha
“Consistency is a funny subject…the key to it regarding grime riddims is the 140 bpm. Use that as a frame and get as creative as you can within that framework…on a regular basis. It’s not about songs, it’s about your catalog.” John Brown (@JohnBrownGRIME)
Consistency is an issue with no definitive way of achieving. Some producers just find a groove and stick with it while others who are more braver to experience with their sounds may take time to produce the sort of stuff that they think is good enough to listen to, it’s not easy to put out banger after banger.
As someone with a keen ear for new music in the scene, I know that if a producer can put out consistently good music, they’ll gain more popularity in places once thought as out-of-reach:
“I’ve had people from Canada, America, Eastern Europe and even Japan buying my music and also asking when I’m coming to do shows so I’m astounded my music has reached that far.” Filthy Gears (@FilthyGears)
One of the key questions I set out to answer was how important was the relationship is between independent labels and producers. I wanted to know just how strong the bond had to be between the two parties in order for their collaboration to be meaningful:
“It depends on the style of release people are going for. Personally I’m not interested in doing a one off release with an artist and never doing anything again. For releases like that you don’t need a relationship further than a shared interest in the genre of music you’re releasing.” KXVU (@CUB_KXVU)
“I feel that it’s something that often develops into a bond between both parties due to mutual respect for each others craft. One person is spending their time writing music on a computer in hope that it will see a release and the other puts their faith into an artist(s) and believes in their music enough that it is deserving of a release.” Neffa-T (@Neffa_T)
“It is important mainly for the fact labels are usually just a certain guy with money he’s willing to use to fund vinyl releases or events or promo for digital releases etc. Stuff that independent artists can’t always afford.” MistaKay (@MistaKayUK)
“From an outsiders point of view I can see exposure as the biggest positive of the relationship. Personally I feel like there are as many, if not more, unrecognised yet talented producers than there are MCs right now and that’s simply because the channels an MC can take to gain recognition are so much broader than the opportunities thrown to producers.” Nayf (@ItsNayf)
“It’s the most important thing. It’s about getting the balance right and having an understanding on both sides. The label will want to do their thing you want to do yours and if you can meet in the middle it can be wicked. I think that’s why artists stick with same labels as you build up a relationship and know what you can do together.” Policy (@policysound)
Going by what’s been said, the relationship between the two parties is indeed important, they need to be on the same wavelength in order for both parties to get what they need from each other. However as I learned, it’s not the only relationship to think about:
“Well there’s so many labels now and so many platforms to buy from that it’s not a major factor so much! I think producer-DJ relationships are more important to be honest. Spooky & his Ghost House label is a good example, he’s giving lesser known producers the chance but is able to do this from his knowledge of their music from DJ’n so knows what bangs rather than just following trends & other opinions. Oil Gang also been doing this for a while.” Bonez (@MR_B0N3Z)
“People are realising that you don’t need a big manager telling you what to make and then taking a cut from your talent. Also the internet has provided gateways for people to get themselves heard faster & by more people globally. Grime is a relatable genre, especially if you’re from a certain background/area.” JP (@jpmusicldn)
Grime is a genre with a huge underground element and as a result, it’s a very organic genre in the sense that people don’t rely on major labels or mainstream personnel to get the music out to the public. The rise in technology means now it’s even easier for artists to promote & share their work but something I’ve seen grow in 2016 is that now more people are going down the independent route, growing their own labels and creating a vision and an ethos that they truly believe in.
Independent labels are on the up and a by-product of that is the return to popularity of vinyl records but why is this happening:
“It’s got to a point where it’s music first again. It’s hard especially in this day and age to have an identity the way things move fast but I think labels are trusting in themselves more and most importantly enjoying doing what they do.” P Jam (@PJam100)
“I think since the internet and other things changed the music industry, the power is more so in the artists hands than it was before as for labels there are some really good ones out there I prefer the more niche stuff, always been a fan of underground music.” Sir Pixalot (@SIRPIXALOT_SW9)
“A lot of independent labels are putting so much work and time into making releases special for consumers whether its special artwork or hand numbering etc. I think the resurgence of vinyl has also played a part in how independent labels operate. Something that can go unnoticed is the risk of doing certain releases. A fair amount of money can go into releasing music but what’s great is that labels seem to be receiving enough support to continue releasing music which especially in early days is really important that also shows that people are supporting artists.” Neffa-T
“I think a lot of the time artists don’t realise how important cross pollination is in regards to building their fan base. Step one of that is making sure everybody involved is credited and tagged on social media platforms, it makes artists more likely to share it and then everybody benefits from that. It’s down to labels to explain this and introduce it to artists rather than get pissed off as that gets nobody involved anywhere but into pointless arguments about “why releases aren’t doing well”. Communication is the key.” KXVU
“I think there have been a lot of established producers/DJs that start their own labels and that in turn gets their fans to buy into it, then the new releases that they put out with the new producers gains and doubles the fanbase. Also services like Juno Download and Bandcamp are essential for grime instrumental EPs, it gets lost and pushed to the back on iTunes.” Benteki (@benteki_)
Thinking about it, it makes sense that the labels have done so well. If the people behind them are more willing to put out music on their terms and promote the artists that they want to give exposure to, it forms the basis of a relationship that can grow into something that hugely benefits both parties. For the fans, listening to all these different projects means they’re exposed to new labels and new producers and for some labels like Boxed & Butterz who are more business-like in their approach, touring across different places doing club nights can create a brand image that people can identify and believe in. What about the future? What potential paths lie in wait?
“Producers can go anywhere with grime…it has so many influences. Labels just have to keep doing what they’re doing and maybe even dig deeper…there’s so many producers out there that don’t get looked at.” Blitz (DJ_Blitz_3D)
“I see grime as the UK’s version of the US hip-hop. In terms of it’s not just a music genre, it’s our culture whether your from London or Glasgow. It’s the sound of the UK we grew up with jungle, garage, happy hardcore, rap. It’s got like sub-genres and different aspects to it now. Some grime nights you wont hear an MC – just sick instrumental grime.” Gallus One.
“2017 should be a interesting one for sure. Grime getting worldwide recognition is mad. Not just for the co-signs but grime’s growing over to other countries among MCs, producers, fans etc. – A good look most definitely.” Jay (@JustJayOfficial)
Instrumental music within grime has had a strong 2016. With so much potential in the scene, it’s not impossible to believe that the labels and producers can progress even more and give the DJs even more music ready to spin off the heads of any willing listeners. Right now, we’ve just gotta enjoy how well things are going, the competition’s that around will only allow for even more great music for 2017.
Another month, another round-up. Before I start, just want to say there’s no spotlight feature included in this write-up. The feature I’m doing in particular will come out on its own and it’ll be up on here soon. Anyways, here’s what made it into Grimey Mondays this time around.
Wot Do U Call It Documentary (2003)
Starting off with going into the archives and doing something a bit different. Grime’s been through a lot, something most people will agree with. Personalities within the game have changed and perceptions of them have evolved and altered with the genre over the years. With things as prosperous as they are now, it’s important not to forget about the roots, where this whole culture started from and in this 2003 short-documentary which aired on Channel 4, we see the scene at its rawest.
Flashes from the past appear here and while the trends and struggles back then may have been different, it’s clear that the unmistakable energy that holds the genre together now emanated back to ’03 times when the energy due to the sheer novelty of it was even greater. Back then, it felt like the streets told more candid and gritty stories, before gentrification hit London’s more run down areas. The songs from this era were angry, uncompromising, ferocious in their tenacity, they were less diluted and more likely to fling a jab towards your head than the songs now; in a era when social media was a myth and pirate radio transmissions had whole blocks keeping an ear out, the music that filled the streets then was a whole new experience, something no-one at the time could work out what it was. Hence the famous name for the documentary. If not for the roots, how would the trees come to being and bare fruit.
JLSXND7RS – S.N.M EP
Hailing from The Netherlands, grime DJ & producer JLSXND7RS has released his newest EP called ‘S.N.M’ on the Lowriders label which is out now. The Dutchman who is a specialist at making the sort of dark, grimey sounds that make you question your sanity (go pree his SoundCloud if you think I’m joking) has given us an extra incentive to cop the EP in the shape of 12 inch gold vinyl that would brighten up the collection of any vinyl-head.
The EP consists of four tracks, two of them featuring the vocals of Nico Lindsay while two of them are also remixed by producer Trends who puts his usual bass-laden, hellfire twist to it. JLSXND7Rs even had a special release party held in Rotterdam on the 19th November to celebrate the EP. The vinyl release can be purchased courtesy of White Peach Records while the digital release in available via Juno. Click on the links to go and listen to the tracks.
Blay – The Vision EP
From one producer to another, ‘The Vision’ is the mammoth-sized instrumental project courtesy of Blay. With such an array of different tones and feelings among all 15 tracks that make up this EP on the Lit City Trax label, it’s a testament to Blay that he’s managed to put such an expansive and impressive EP together. ‘The Vision’ is an EP that combines experimentation aplenty throughout all the tracks used, I don’t think there’s a single track on here that lets the EP down. With Blay’s vision influenced from the sounds of grime, trap, rap, even old-school console games, the variety in the productions in this EP is clear to hear. The EP’s out now on iTunes & all good digital vendors.
DJ Argue In The Mix For RWD Magazine
The featured mix this month comes in from Radar Radio‘s DJ Argue as he’s put together a dubs bonanza of a mix for RWD Magazine. The DJ also does an interview for them talking about his highlights from 2016 as talking about the parallels between DJing on radio and on sets. Click the image above to find the interview in full as well as Argue’s mix.
Leicester vs. Derby – Red Bull Studios’ Grime-A-Side Final
8 cities. 4 quarter-finals. 2 semi-finals. However, it all came down to the final clash though as Leicester and Derby, the last two cities still left in the tournament clashed in the live final of the Red Bull Studios’ Grime-A-Side. Check out the final below first to find out which of the two cities came out on top and then click on the link below the video to catch-up on the other clashes that have already taken place.
Nottingham MC Snowy aka Lord Skatsavelli’s been busy year. From dropping both the ‘Knots’ and ‘Durt’ EPs to featuring on Eyez’s ‘Mind The Gap Anthem’, Sticky Blood’s ‘Garn Again’ and featuring on freestyles for Risky Roadz and JDZmedia. Now Snowy teams up with producer Massappeals to make the song ‘Do’s/Dont’s’ which is accompanied by what has to be one of the most trippiest videos of the year. Prepare to have your minds blown watching it! The song features as part of Massappeals’ new EP called ‘Hater Behaviour‘, pree da ting!
Teddy Music – Get Like This Remix (feat. Mercston, Ears & Capo Lee)
Earlier this year, Teddy Music (or Silencer as some will know him as) brought plenty of aggression and hunger when he dropped ‘Get Like This’ featuring P Money. Well now he’s back again with a remix bringing attitude in abundance with help from a few MCs. With Mercston, Ears (with a rather dapper looking moustache I must say) and Capo Lee laying down bars alongside Teddy, he’s sounding like this ain’t gonna be the last this time you hear him spit bars, Silencer’s on job.
Kwam X Trends – Rally EP
Tennis and grime aren’t exactly what you would call a conventional pairing but for MC Kwam who happens to be a tennis coach, he loves nothing more than to win the game, set & match, regardless of whether he’s on a tennis court on inside a studio spitting bars. With him consistently shelling down radio this year, it seemed inevitable an EP would soon come and it has. With the production skills of Trends for the EP, ‘Rally’ is the newest release on the Mean Streets label, expect plenty of tennis inspired bars as well as the thumping bass sounds that define Trends’ sound. The EP’s out on Juno now so go listen to it.
Greg & Ed – Feed Em Freedom
Something a little different, not necessary grimey but this has a good vibe, the sort of vibe that makes you just wanna put on a pair of fluffy slippers, slouch on a sofa, roll up a spliff or two and just cotch in your yard. Astral Black are an independent record label, one of a few labels that have caught my eye this year. They also have a monthly slot on Radar Radio, host club nights in Glasgow and London and they’ve got an impressive roster of DJs and producers on board too.
This new release off the label features the beats and bars of the simply named Greg & Ed respectively, 4 tracks with vocal and non-vocal versions with elements of hip-hop, rap and grime about them. I have to say, a release as emotive and as abstract as this may not immediately hit you straight away but rinse it for a little while and you’ll learn to appreciate the artistry at work both in the vocals and the instrumentals. ‘Feed Em Freedom’ is available to buy on Bandcamp.
Oil Gang New Releases
What a strong finish to the year by Oil Gang and with Christmas not far now, filling up your stockings with their new releases wouldn’t be a bad idea.
First of all, this month saw the release of both the 013 and 014 imprints on the label. 013 is a two-part EP by legendary DJ and producer Spooky, a man who knows his way round a rave or two. ‘Fiesta’ & ‘Cherry’ are the perfect sort of beats to play at a club, reloads aplenty will be drawn for using them.
014‘s a more serious affair though, it’s an EP that sees the combination of Spooky with another legend in the game in the form of Boylan. ‘Low Rider’ & ‘All Black Winter’ are more likely to liff up heads than 013, heads will be sent flying like birds in the sky. Their savageness means you have to be cautious, listening to either of those beats in a moshpit while drinking a can of Red Stripe will make you go a bit mad, God forbid if you’re backing Magnums though, you’ll end giving someone a muay thai kick to face for the culture.
If that wasn’t enough, the much anticipated Trends & Boylan collaborative EP called ‘Norman Bates’, the 015 imprint on the Oil Gang label drops next month and it’s currently available for pre-order. All three releases have brightly coloured vinyls as well to add a bit of colour to the collections of you vinyl junkies in particular. These are the sort of the EPs you don’t want to miss out listening to.