2016: The Rise Of The Instrumentals

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.

Rants.

 

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Grimey Mondays #4

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

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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.

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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

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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

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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.

http://www.redbull.com/uk/en/music/stories/1331811531940/grime-a-side-watch-all-the-matches?wtk=YTRef


Massappeals X Snowy – Do’s/Dont’s

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

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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

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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.

Grimey Mondays #3

Wagwan peeps, Grimey Mondays is back again for another instalment. Here’s what made it into the third of my round-ups.


Sir Spyro – Topper Top feat. Teddy Bruckshot, Lady Chann & Killa P

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‘Topper Top’ is the electrifying new release, part of the ‘Topper Top’ EP from legendary grime producer Sir Spyro. The song has been a dubplate for well over a year but now it has dropped on the Deep Medi Musik label and to mark the occasion, ‘Topper Top’ has a music video that arguably is the best one to come out of this year. The vinyl copies of the EP were so popular that not did the original batch of vinyls sold out so quickly, Deep Medi Musik had to release a repressed batch of vinyls which duly sold out as well. Featuring the enigmatic “Teddy Bruckshot”, Lady Chann and Killa P, this song instantly draws reloads wherever played, it’s a certified percy.


Darkness – Question That feat. Rocks FOE

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London-based producer Darkness collaborates with fellow Londoner Rocks FOE to create an eerie yet almost enigmatic sounding track to mark Darkness’s new Quantum Sound label. ‘Question That’ has the sort of futuristic yet dark sounds that featured heavily on the ‘Eski Thug’ EP he released last year. Add in the fiery bars of Rocks FOE which make the hairs on the back on your neck stand up in anticipation that something poignant is going down and you have a track of epic proportions. The track came on the 20th October, ready to buy via iTunes. The combination of Darkness & Rocks on this track is one that definitely bangs.


Movement DVD Freestyle (2006)

For my archive pick, it’s a freestyle from the Movement DVD featuring Wiley, Skepta, Scorcher, Wretch 32 and Ghetto (Ghetts). It’s mad to see the progression the scene has undertaken over the years, back then, the guys that are considered OGs now were up & coming MCs, grinding to get their names out there in the hope of blowing up. Although those times are in the past, the memories still remain and with this particular video having over 1 million views, those memories are still affecting the present, memories etched into the fabric of grime’s origins, that same fabric is where the very few are able to find the roots of their legacies.


P Money – Panasonic

With his debut album ‘Live & Direct’ dropping on the 25th November this year, P Money teases us with a release off his album. With the productions powers of D33CO, ‘Panasonic’ sounds like a throwback to grime’s old era, back during the times where producers were experimenting with eskibeat, novel yet unknown, the producers back then pushing boundaries that hadn’t existed before. P Money has been consistent as ever this year so if the rest of his debut album can reach the same levels as ‘Panasonic’, it might just well be the cherry on the cake for P this year.

Tickets for his album launch party on the 1st December are on sale now so if you want to roll to the launch, be quick to book your tickets before they sell out.


Beat Boss 4 Podcast

If you saw my last edition, I spoke about the Beat Boss platform, the producer clash where some of the best producers in the scene at the moment go into war, ready to lick off heads armed with dubplates as hard as concrete. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, the clash has happened now and below, whether you want to listen again or catch up on what the fuss is about, you can listen to podcast of the whole clash in its entirety. Ang tite to the 8 producers who took part, the judging panel, DJ Tiatsim for curating & putting the platform together and to everyone who supported the event which at one point was trending #1 across the whole of the UK on Twitter, yes that’s right, Beat Boss 4 trended higher than X Factor!


 

Ghstly XXVII – 3310

Everyone remembers the Nokia 3310 right? The indestructible mobile phone with a battery that never seemed to run out. Well it’s the title behind this Mistakay produced track by Ghstly. The song has been absolutely rinsed with multiple DJs across different radio stations regularly giving this song airtime. If you don’t like this, slap yourself, you’re mad for not respecting this vibe.


Jammz – Warrior EP

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Radio don Jammz drops ‘Warrior’, his second EP on his I Am Grime label on the 3rd November and to mark it, not only has he released the video for the lead single which features DJ Scott Garcia on the EP called ‘It’s A London Thing’, a song that in the words of the man himself “is about the paradox of living in London”, picking up on the pros and cons of living in the city, he also managed to get a billboard promoting the EP, big moves indeed. The EP is available for pre-order via iTunes & Bandcamp with vinyls also available for pre-order. After his first Keep It Simple/The World EP release earlier this year, expect bigger and better things from the East Londoner in the future.


Jamakabi – Hot It Up (Kahn & Neek Remix)

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Ahead of their Fabric 90 EP dropping on the 18th November, heavyweight producers Kahn & Neek give us their remix to ‘Hot It Up’ by grime scene stalwart Jamakabi (remember him off Pow Forward Riddim). Kahn & Neek know how to duppy raves so I expect Fabric 90 to be full of the sort of stuff that will make people want to kick each other in the chest in for no reason, look out for this when it drops.


 

Crafty – V_V EP

‘V_V’ is the debut EP from 3rd Degree member Crafty, an MC who shells down sets on a regular. Featuring vocal tracks and self-produced instrumentals, Crafty’s debut EP which is also a free download is hard, very hard in fact. Expect to hear more from Crafty as well as fellow members Blaydes, Ramzey and DJ Blitz, 893’s the vibe, don’t be slept on it.


Sir Hiss In The Mix For Italdred

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The mix this month comes from Bristol-based producer Sir Hiss. In this mix for Italdred, Sir Hiss laces it with a load of dubplates, a refix and bootleg frenzy of riddims. When I asked him why he had so many dubs in there, he said that he likes surprising people with tunes they wouldn’t hear unless he played them. Considering how vinyl records are coming back into fashion, Sir Hiss thinks it’s a good thing, saying it’s “good to go back to the roots of cutting dubs”. With the likes of Kahn & Neek, Slimzee, Spooky and Riz La Teef all championing the dubplate game, it seems inevitably that DJs have picked up on this and given how producers and labels have stepped up their games massively this year, fans and DJs alike are enjoying this dubplate based way of making music. Listen to the mix on Italdred’s SoundCloud page to find out about the tracklist for this mix.


Indecent – Indecent 002

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Featuring an array of mucky riddims, the Indecent label presents ‘Indecent 002’. According Indecent itself, ‘Indecent 002’ is a follow up to ‘The Indecent LP’, a project released last year celebrating a year of sharing music on their SoundCloud page. From there, after a good response to the LP, that’s how 002 came about. The label functions out of the love of the music and getting artists’ works out to the world, no hidden motives as all of the music they share is available for free download while showcasing the works of some the most talented up & coming producers across the country. With regular shows on Balamii Radio to boot, Indecent care about the artists they rep, wanting to see their talent receive the recognition they deserve.

According to Luke, the man behind the label, he’s already planning ahead as to the direction Indecent takes. “I want to do a limited run on vinyl in the future. There are a lot of sick ideas in the pipeline that may come to fruition soon. Merch, launch parties, collabs etc etc.”. He then tells me that Indecent has a huge show on Balamii coming up next month including a special guest performing under an alias he hasn’t used before, to him this person is “one of the best producers out there”. Interesting news indeed, as for the 002, the 10 track instrumental project features some of the best newcomers in the producer scene so get to know their names as I’m sure you’ll be hearing more from them in the future. Be sure to check out Indecent’s SoundCloud page as well to see the rest of the stuff that they’ve been championing.


Spotlight Feature – Interview With DJ Oblig

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Oblig is on RWD.FM every Thursday from 11pm-1am GMT.

Ending this Grimey Mondays post is the spotlight feature which this time around is my chinwag with New York-based DJ Oblig. Grime is growing and right now, the scene across the pond is slowly starting to embrace the genre. For Oblig, a guy who has a regular radio slot on RWD.FM, an American independently run radio station, his aim is simple, to push grime as far as he can among New York’s underground scene. Wanting to know more, I spoke to Oblig about how he’s got to where he is as well as some other interesting things:

“I love the genre and the culture so much, and I know America is ready for it as long as they’re taught about it in the right way so my mission is to make it happen.”

Me: How did you get into grime?

O: “I got into grime from early, I’m 25 now so it was 2004 when I first went to high school and you couldn’t avoid it at that point. Having tunes on your phone and getting viruses on limewire was the in ting at the time, so I’d hear it all over the place, back of the bus, school playground etc. Then my mum starting working for Sky so I got all the music channels and got addicted to Channel U, it was a wrap from there really, I’d bang it on as soon as I got home from school until my mum came back from work and turned it off.”

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Me: How long have you been DJing for?

O: “I haven’t been DJing very long at all, had been practicing here and there for a while but the first time I ever did a show was July 2015. I threw my own grime party in New York called Low Life, and the first party we threw was actually the first time I had performed in front of people, mad nervous but it worked out and here I am.”

Me: Which artists from any genre influenced you?

O: “I grew up listening to lots of different shit; my dad is born and raised New York so I grew up being put on to bare US hip hop. I used to bang Biggie, Nas & 50 Cent mostly. But I also used to like a lot of heavy rock, I used to go to live gigs all the time, artists like: Queens of the Stone Age, Slipknot & Muse. Then grime-wise it was all about Dizzee Rascal for me, such an iconic voice and flow, almost the definition of gritty London, I loved it.”

“The DJ was just playing trap and then he dropped Giggs – Whippin Excursion out of nowhere. I asked him how he knew about the tune and he goes “come on dude, it’s Giggs!””

Me: What is your favourite event you’ve done/taken part in?

O: “My favorite set is a hard one, I had a lot of fun in Washington D.C. with AJ Tracey. I had a grime MC from New York – Bobby Moses & an MC from Baltimore – MC Twisty there with us and they passed the mic between each other, it was sick to see the three styles mix together. But I also did a show at a venue called Elvis’ Guesthouse in Manhattan, and nobody was there for grime, it was just a packed bar really, but I had them all going mad for grime when I was expected no reception at all, that was amazing to see. Not forgetting the 1 year anniversary party I threw for Low Life, we flew out Sir Spyro and AJ Tracey for it, it was a shutdown, biggest crowds we’ve had to date.”

Me: How did you end up DJing in America?

O: “I was born in New York but grew up my whole life in London, so I’m lucky enough to have dual nationality. One day I just got bored of what I was doing and decided to come here. I started thinking about what I was gonna do while I was here and I felt pushing grime was something I couldn’t ignore. I love the genre and the culture so much, and I know America is ready for it as long as they’re taught about it in the right way so my mission is to make it happen. I’ve had people all over the country listening to my radio show as well as having the chance to perform in multiples States, it’s a good look right now.”

Me: How are Americans embracing grime as a whole?

O: “Americans are really embracing it at the moment, not completely of course, but before I felt there used to be a resistance, almost like they didn’t wanna know. But people like Skepta and Stormzy have almost forced it on them to a point where they don’t wanna be out of the loop with what’s going on. The ravers love it unquestionably but I’m trying to infiltrate the trap crowds at the moment, I think it’ll work perfectly with the amount of energy at those parties. I was at a shubz in the Bronx not long ago, and the DJ was just playing trap and then he dropped Giggs – Whippin Excursion out of nowhere. I asked him how he knew about the tune and he goes “come on dude, it’s Giggs!”, that’s how far we’ve come.”

 

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Me: When are you getting the sponsorship deal with Ribena? (If you didn’t know, Oblig is a massive Ribena aficionado, even RWD.FM acknowledge him as a “Ribena addict”).

O: “I don’t know g, I think about this on a daily basis. I’ve gone from drinking Ribena like everyday to never being able to drink it, it’s actually emosh. I miss Ribena more than I miss my friends, one day I’ll make it big time and they won’t be able to deny me.”

Me: Would you ever drink Vimto?

O: “Vimto is alright, it’s just a cheap man’s Ribena though lets be real and on the subject of juice, I’d like to give a special shout out to Rubicon Mango, I miss you habibi.”

Me: Seeing as you’re a Spurs fan, where do you think Tottenham will finish in the Premier League this season? 

O: “This season I’m going for a prediction of 3rd place, we’re stronger than we were last year but we’re still young and still learning, this is the year we finish above Arsenal though, you heard it here first.”

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Me: UK or US?

O: “I think the UK is better on the whole, but as an Englishman in the US I’m having a lot more fun here, but I’ll be returning for sure, I can’t stay away too long they don’t have Ribena here.”

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I hope for his sake, Oblig keeps his focus as he goes through his Ribena and Rubicon drought. It’s good to know that from New York at least, grime is leaving its mark among the undeground music scene there. Big ups to Oblig to speaking to me and supporting and pushing the movement in the US.

Grimey Mondays #2

It’s me again! (*D Double E voice*)

I’m back for another instalment of Grimey Mondays and trust me, a lot has happened recently. Here’s what has made it into here.

Skepta Wins The Mercury Prize For 2016

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The biggest news from the world of grime is the triumphant victory of Skepta as he won the 2016 Mercury Prize. Beating off competition from a nomination list full of acclaimed artists such as the late David Bowie, Radiohead, Laura Mvula and fellow grime MC Kano, Skepta’s album ‘Konnichiwa’ was the one chosen by the judges to receive the award. Surrounded by friends and family as he accepted the prize, the Tottenham MC whose face was one of sheer disbelief at the fact he’d won, froze for a little while looking at the award before regaining his composure to give a speech in which he thanked those who helped him put ‘Konnichiwa’ together as well as thanking his parents for giving him the motivation to chase his dreams. Although it would have been poignant to award the Mercury Prize to Bowie posthumously for his ‘Blackstar’ album, Skepta’s victory is a signal of grime’s growing prominence in the mainstream and vindication that even independent artists, those not signed onto major labels can still make successful careers for themselves.

 

 

Capo Lee – Mud

What a year it’s been for Capo Lee, from releasing his ‘Why Not’ mixtape back in January, Capo The Champ aka Cake & Custard Man hasn’t looked back. When he linked up with D Double E for the vocals & Sir Spyro on producky to do ‘Mud’, this set the ball rolling for him and with that momentum behind him, we’re graced to have the release of the ‘Mud’ EP, featuring the killer remix with Frisco and Teddy Bruckshot. With a sequel to ‘Why Not’ confirmed marked by a new tune featuring P Money called ‘Very Mad’, Capo Lee is going from strength to strength at the moment. Click to link below to go and cop the EP from iTunes.

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/mud-ep/id1146591552

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Shell TV – Shells Season 4

Shells is the explosive showcase hosted by RD on Shell TV run by DFR. Each season, a selection of MCs will spray nothing but their hardest bars for up to 6 minutes live on Radar Radio. This season, the Shells started to rain down with the fiery bars of Jon E Clayface and Grim Sickers. Look out for more videos from season 4 to come.

Snowy Danger – The Blue (feat. Rocket, Little Dee & P Money)

Paper Aero Plane (PAP) representative Snowy Danger aka the king of Orange Fanta lays down some bars ahead of his ‘Stella Flow’ EP dropping with the track titled ‘The Blue’. The track features fellow PAP mandem Rocket (one half of production duo Splurgeboys), OGz Little Dee and P Money with Kadey James, another member of PAP on the buttons. PAP are known for their infectious energy so get them near a mic like doing a guestmix takeover on the Sian Anderson show on 1Xtra for example and fireworks are sure to explode.

Tre Mission, Merky ACE & Cadell – Steeze

With the long-awaited Tizzy Gang album ‘OppsNextDoor’ on the horizon, it was only a matter time before stuff from that project would drop and it duly has. Three of the gang, Tre Mission, Merky ACE & Cadell all appear here to lay down bars on the silky riddim titled ‘Steeze’.

Jack Dat Mix

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DJ Jack Dat is a guy who definitely knows how to control two decks and a mixer. If you’re aware of Jack Dat’s work, you’ll know he packs his sets with the hardest crud with no punches pulled and in this mix, it’s full of straight greeze. If you’re not aware of Jack Dat’s work however, just press play to start the mix, sit back and enjoy the ride.

Score5ive’s Top 10 Dubplates

From one DJ to another as DJ Score5ive goes through his most prized dubplates exclusively for FACTmagazine. With both DJs Slimzee and Spooky going through their favourite dubplates for the guys at FACT already, it was the turn of Score5ive to run through the dubs he treasures the most. Watch the video to find out what dubs made the cut and then listen to the mix he does including the dubs he picked below.

Kano & Mikey J – E.T. (feat. Wiley, Wretch 32 & Scorcher (2011))

Delving into the archives, I’ve gone for something from an EP that I’ve highly rated from the moment it dropped.

‘Not 4 The A List’ is an 4-track EP jointly made by emcee Kano and long time collaborating producer Mikey J. Although it was released as a free download 5 years ago, the EP to me still sounds fresh, it has a timeless nature to it. From the gritty realness of ‘House Of Pain’ to the out of this world feel to ‘Alien’ to the almost arrogant swagger that oozed from ‘Random Antics’, the EP showcases the lyricism of one of the very best to spit bars, Kano’s ‘Home Sweet Home’ album became an instant anthem, a status it still holds today.

The track however that got me the most gassed (and still does) when I first heard this EP back in my days at sixth form was ‘E.T.’ simply because it blew my fucking mind. It was a track that ignited in me something that I hadn’t felt before. I rinsed the shit out of this tune when I was still in college, back then I was still relatively new to grime so hearing something like this was a shock but in a good way. For me, this is not just music, this is pure nostalgia.

Wallwork & Nico Lindsay – Facts

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Photo courtesy of Silvia Lee

‘Facts’ is the two-track single released on the Black Acre Records label that features the combination of the lyrical powers of Nico Lindsay and the production prowess of Wallwork. Nico Lindsay is a versatile MC who’s not afraid to experiment with different genres. Wanting to find out more about how this project came together, I had a chat with Nico which was pretty useful as I learned a few things, I guess Codename Lin is wiser than he looks:

Me: How did you and Wallwork come up with the idea to work together?

NL: “A producer called Lorenzo BITW from Italy messaged me on Facebook saying he liked my stuff and wanted to collab, he told me his friend has a studio in Hackney and the friend was Wallwork so when I went there to record ‘Storm’, Wallwork & I ended up working on ‘Facts’ and ‘Fyah’.”

Me: So you did the vocals for ‘Storm’ and ‘Facts’ at the same studio? Was that the first time you met TSVI?

NL: “Yeah I did them at the same studio and that’s when I met TSVI as well.”

Me: Did you meet Nan Kole there too?

NL: “Nah his manager Craig contacted me on Facebook then we did a Rinse set that was 100% gqom music made from an artist in Durban.”

Me: What sort of genre does gqom music deal with?

NL: “That’s the title of the genre, gqom you might compare it to like Soca but its got a whole different vibe, I wouldn’t even know what genre to compare it to.”

Me: You’re a versatile MC, what are your favourite genres?

NL: “Grime and hip-hop I can’t lie, hip-hop because that was my first favourite genre period and grime because that’s what i started on in 04.”

Me: 04? So you’ve seen grime from the roots grow to what exists now. Why now is it that you’re blowing?

NL: “I think why I’m gaining more recognition now is because back then I was a kid and still understanding plus the games different now to then.”

Me: Last question, do you think it’s good for MCs to push their boundaries, to leave their comfort zones?

NL: “I think so, it’s a bit of a scary thing to do because you might jump in another genre and get judged for it but to be honest, I think less restrictions enhances your ability as long as you aren’t compromising who you are and what you like.”

Whether it’s grime, hip-hop or something in between, Nico Lindsay has an effortless flow that is equal in its eloquence. Wallwork’s mellow yet dramatic riddims suit Nico’s style perfectly, all in all, a solid project. Follow the link below to go cop the two-track single via Bandcamp.

https://blackacrerecords.bandcamp.com/album/facts

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Facts/Fyah is out now

 

Beat Boss – Spotlight

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Catch Tiatsim on Mode FM from 11pm on Fridays for his ‘House Of Grime’ show.

Beat Boss is a platform that firmly places the impetus on producers to leave their rivals’ heads mangled and dangled to the side like D Double E wears his Kangol while also earning the credit they fully deserve. The platform may only be one year old but it is growing in popularity and influence with both Beat Boss 2 and Beat Boss 3 trending #1 on Twitter across the whole of the UK. This exciting and refreshing platform is the brainchild of DJ Tiatsim of Mode FM. As a massive supporter of what the producers do for the scene and the largely unpublicised graft they do, this is a platform I firmly recommend to anyone who likes the instrumental side of grime. With all this in mind, I just had to talk to the grandmaster himself about Beat Boss & its rise in prominence, including talking about plans for the future.

After phoning him and finding out how his holiday went, we got into business. I asked him firstly how did this all begin, where did the idea of Beat Boss come from. Tiatsim said it came about due to feeling that producers were not getting the attention nor the respect they deserve and feeling like he had to do something about it. I immediately agreed with him because in his words, he says he is an “instrumentalist”, someone who prefers the sounds of beats, much like myself. Beat Boss to him was meant to only be a one-off event but now it has grown and it is thriving in an era of internet radio which captures the essence of pirate radio, it’s raw, it’s novel, it’s an unknown beast waiting to be tamed.

Now when two grimeheads chat, they’re bound to go off-topic and during this 30 minute chat, we went off-topic quite a bit. We talked about Dizzee Rascal and how his sounds were so novel back in the day, ‘Boy In Da Corner’ wasn’t so much a body of grime music, more a body of music involving sounds where people listening to it thought “what the fuck is this” and vibzing to it. We also talked about the need for grime artists to be versatile, to be able to show that there are aspects to them that make them stand out. Many MCs nowadays are able to DJ or to produce but Tiats worried about being too versatile, to be a jack of all trades but a master of none and I get what he’s saying, it’s better to focus on a few things and hone them rather than to try to be good at everything.

I then mentioned the fact that the upcoming Beat Boss 4 clash will be the first that won’t be taking place at Mode FM. Tiats assured me though that the clash will still be live streamed (cue sigh of relief) and explained to me that because so many people there during the clashes, people have to stand outside the studio because there simply isn’t enough space for all of them to fit into the studio. Now as I have been to Mode before, I already know how hot it gets in there, if you haven’t been to Mode then you need to know a few things; firstly, instead of Mode, I like to call it Sauna FM because you literally sweat buckets in there, I’m not joking! Secondly, take a drink with you while you’re in there because it’s hot and thirdly, when you come Mode, remember to bring a dressing gown and a towel (and perhaps even a fan) because if you’re there spraying bars & billing zoots, it gets humid in there so man have to wipe the sweat off their brows so sweat don’t drop on the mic whilst you’re spitting, I’m not joking when I say you come out of Mode lighter, the pounds come right off after a session in there.

Tiatsim tells me that the clash is at a place called Samurai Sound, a recording studio in West London and that he plans to let Beat Boss grow “organically”. Perplexed by what he meant, I asked him what he meant when he said this. He elaborated, telling me he hadn’t thrown a lot of money putting the platform together, it was an idea that he had simply managed to craft into life. This is something I could tell he was proud of because as the curator of all this, you do develop a sense of attachment to it, a sense of responsibility that the process of growing the platform should happen without too many constraints. One of the things I picked up on was the use of judges to decide which producers advance to later rounds and it was clear from the way Tiats was speaking to me that judges were there because they pick up on things that the listening audience don’t. The judges know their stuff, they have to otherwise they wouldn’t do a good job. Their decisions CAN AND WILL be controversial because they may not pick the popular choices.

At around this point, we went off-topic again, talking about how badly Eskimo Dance did at this year’s Red Bull Culture Clash which was won by Mixpak. Eskimo Dance simply didn’t bring the dubs that were needed to win the clash, “it was like a concert” said Tiatsim with a hint of exasperation in his voice and then he pointed out to me how well prepared Taylor Gang were for the clash, Wiz Khalifa and his crew had done their research and clearly bringing out Ice Kid was a real shock to the other crews, Chip in particular seemed affected seeing Ice Kid in the flesh. We came to the conclusion that dubs win wars in any soundclash hence why Mixpak won but Taylor Gang came more than prepared and left the clash with their reputations enhanced.

Going back to Beat Boss, I asked him what his favourite clash out of all 3 of the previous Beat Bosses. Put simply, he said DOK versus Spooky which happens to be my favourite clash too. The final of Beat Boss 2 was so close that both producers had to run extra dubs because the judges could not initially separate them. In the end after that bonus round, DOK prevailed and now, he’s part of the hall of fame of previous winners, with Familiar Face winning Beat Boss 1 and Sir Pixalot winning Beat Boss 3, a title he will hope he can defend.

I asked Tiats one last question which was what were his future plans. His utimate goal? To have Beat Boss 9 where all 8 competitors are all previous winners. Sounds like a sick idea to me!

All in all, Beat Boss definitely has its own niche in the market and there’s plenty of potential for it to grow in the months to come. After the amount of interest in the qualifying round that took place earlier this year where Huffy beat Beanzo, Westy and MistaKay to booking a slot in the final 8, this upcoming clash looks like it will be what it normally is, a bloodbath! The draw for the clash happening on the 8th October 2016 has already been made and from the initial pairings, heads are due fi get liff up in the clash.

UPDATE: AS IF KID had to pull out of the clash. His place has been taken up by MistaKay.

Large up Tiatsim for putting this platform together and chatting with me about it. Good luck to the 8 producers taking part. Always remember that the certified warmongers all move stiff inna war. Pioneered by DOK, the war stance is guaranteed to protect you from clarts flying across the room like birds in the sky. Better practice the stance before the clash starts.

 

 

Grimey Mondays #1

So after trialing it, I’ve decided to do Grimey Mondays again. I trialed it last year not knowing what to expect from doing it so I just went with the flow, featuring an old school riddim every Monday. This time around though, not only am I going to still be featuring tracks from grime’s archives, I’ll be spotlighting those who are popping in the genre as well as talking about some of the new music that have really got my attention. Before I did Grimey Mondays on a weekly basis but because of the way I want to structure each post, I’ll be doing posts on a monthly basis instead.

Chipmunk & Ice Kid’s Freestyle For Tim Westwood (2007)

So for this post’s trip down memory lane, I decided that it had to involve a guy that only last month came out of hiding. After coming out as a guest act for Taylor Gang during the Red Bull Culture Clash last month, Ice Kid has marked his return first by laying down some bars for the track ‘A.T.M’, then he laid down even more bars alongside Chip for the track appropriately named ‘Where’s Ice Kid At’ and most recently, Ice Kid dropped his 11 EP, a 9 track project that I’m sure will excite the fans who remember him from his younger years. Ice Kid wasn’t always so enigmatic as here in this freestyle alongside an equally young Chipmunk as he was called then on the Tim Westwood show with Wiley bringing the young MCs through, bouncing around in the background like a proud dad.

Big John & Reece West – Invincibles

Londoners Big John & Reece West have both been consistently hitting up radio this year, jumping on sets on the likes of Radar, Mode, Reprezent and more recently, appearing on Sir Spyro’s Grime Show on Rinse, Reece even has his own radio slot on Radar. The two talented MCs have come together to channel their inner strikers to put out a joint EP called ‘Invincibles’. With 2 tracks with them together as well as 2 others with them on individual tracks, the EP which is a free download has the hard-hitting bars you’d expect from a pair of hungry, up & coming MCs. With that invincible feeling, it’s no wonder with a mic in their hands, they’re feeling like Dennis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry in their prime.

J Beatz – Chestplate

Mode FM’s J Beatz is releasing a new EP on his Crown Jules label called ‘Chestplate’. The lead track on this EP has already had plenty of air time with a positive reception among DJs who have spun it. The vocal track on here features the combined flows of Nico Lindsay, Capo Lee, Merky ACE and Blay with each MC flexing their lyrical prowess on the booming riddim. Add in the strong sounds from both Dartford and the Audio Slugs remix of Drunk and you have a secure yet versatile project.

The Bug – Box/Iceman

The Bug here with his latest release on the Ninja Tune label. This release consists of two tracks, the first being a jumpy, lively riddim accompanied by the bars and flows of the legendary Newham General D Double E, ‘Box’ is the sort of track that will definitely provoke a reaction in the clubs, it’s experimental nature and DEE’s array of bars, perfectly in sync with the beat work well together. The second track however is a far more aggressive animal with the vocals of the London City Warlord himself Riko Dan, ‘Iceman’ is more cutthroat than ‘Box’, it’s more intense and boy does it punch an almighty punch. The Bug showing here how to push the boundaries, merging elements of different genres to create these hybrid sounds that seem to just sound epic. Follow the link below if you want to purchase this release via Bandcamp.

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https://thebugmusic.bandcamp.com/album/box-iceman

Vicky Grout – AAA Exhibition

Grime photographer Vicky Grout had an exhibition at the Hoxton Gallery this month showcasing her collection of photographs she’s taken from the last two years. I went to the gallery to see the exhibition for myself and it’s safe to say I wasn’t disappointed.

Merky ACE aka Splurt Diablo Mix

Big news in the producer scene, Family Tree and Tizzy Gang’s Merky ACE has outed himself to be the producer Splurt Diablo, confirming the rumours that the two aliases belonged to the same person. In an interview he did for Complex, he said he felt he reached a point where he felt both identities were developed and stood strong alone. Now the revelation is out that he is Splurt Diablo, Merky has provided Complex with a mix, including a bunch a riddims that he’s feeling. With Tizzy Gang’s album on the horizon, this looks like it could be an exciting change to the career path of both the MC and the producer.

Ruff Sound – Spotlight

Finishing off this Grimey Mondays post, I’ve gone with the emergence of the Ruff Sound movement pioneered by South Londoner Novelist who refers to himself as a producer who MCs as well. He’s responsible for championing this new sound alongside the likes of Vision Crew, a South London collective and DJ Grandmixxer with the aim of pushing Ruff Sound to the fore and so far, the movement has been gathering pace this year. This new sound has a grimey yet junglist feel to it; set at about 152-160 BPM, MCing to Ruff Sound requires fast flows but lyrical content, the bars come out fast almost as if MCs are spraying bars to drum & bass but the skippy nature of the sound means finding a rhythm is crucial to be able to spit bars properly, Novelist even has a definition for Ruff Sound posted on his Instagram. The jury’s still out as to whether the movement will continue to grow or not but there’s been plenty of air time for Ruff Sound, particularly on Rinse FM. With Novelist recently announcing he’s started his own independent label, the 19 year old seems to be in total control of his own music making process, perhaps setting the foundations for the Ruff Sound movement to flourish.