Son Raw is filing a war report. Warning: this is a long post.
Two days ago, producer Bless beats set off a Grime war of epic proportions, sending for half a dozen producers via twitter. The reasons behind his initial aggression is unknown, but what began as a one off barb quickly spiraled out of control with practically every name in the scene retaliating with a quickly released instrumental. Maybe the big names were bored. Maybe they wanted to remind the world that Grime’s original school has plenty of gas left in the tank. You know how that side of the world goes: somebody shoots an archduke and suddenly the whole continent’s on fire. The important thing is that this is Grime’s version of the “Control responses” minus the shitty raps, and now we’re left with nearly 100 hastily written beats. Someone’s got to wade through them. That someone is me.
Bless Beats – War Dub
I’m pretty certain this is the one that set things off, although it’s hard to tell at this point. Either way, it’s a fiery slice of Jamaican chat and electro madness: strong but not necessarily ground breaking. I’d ordinarily give this a 3.5 but he gets the extra half point for relevance since he start all of this mess. 4/5 reloads
Deeco – Fatality
Deeco has been making a steady name for himself this year, producing for scene-leader JME and incorporating Dubstep’s noisier sounds into his style. His contribution to the clash relies heavily on bursts of wobbly noise, which should irritate me, but his Mortal Kombat samples send this one over the top. 4.5/5 reloads
DJ Q – War Dubs 1 & 2
To complicate matters even further, several producers dropped MULTIPLE dubs. Bassline producer DJ Q’s first effort didn’t quite cut it, he’s better known for Todd Edwards style vocal cut-ups than anything approaching the level of intensity required to compete here, but his second attempt fares better: I can’t deny that understated Jungle vocal. 2/5 and 3.5/5 reloads respectively.
DJ Eastwood – Shove your keyboard where the sun don’t shine
DJ Eastwood’s second war dub is kind of shitty, but this first one has classic Eski laser sounds and commanding drums. It’s good to see some classic producers getting involved too, and I’m giving him an extra half point for that track title. 3.5/5 reloads
Footsie – War Dub
I was feeling the Bob Marley sample… and then it suddenly went Trap. Footsie should have gotten D Double to spit some bars on here, that would have made a difference. His second dub was aiight . 2.5/5 reloads
Funtcase – Pussyoles [War Dub]
Oh shit! Funtcase isn’t even a Grime producer, he’s among the bro-est of brosteppers but I can’t front, this is sick. Hey Funtcase, switch over to Grime, maybe? 4/5 reloads
Jammer – U ain’t Safe (Wardub) & JME – Producer War Dub 2
Jammer and JME used to be some of Grime’s strongest producers but it’s been damn near a decade since the Chinaman riddim tore up the dance and JME’s beats have always worked best as rapper-food. I like the breakbeats on Jammer’s but frankly, these isn’t doing much to grab my attention. 2/5 reloads and 3/5 reloads respectively.
Kahn & Neek – Soundboy Obliterator
Finally something to sink my teeth into! The Bristol Boys absolutely devastate the competition with this one, incorporating samples from their previous hit riddims to devastating effect. I’d be affraid to even open Logic after hearing this beat. One question though: Kahn was on tour in Montreal last night so he obviously wasn’t in the studio crafting this. Did Neek go solo, or was this one in the stash? Either way, 5/5 reloads
Plastician – Hit Somebody
Nice to see Plastician return to his roots here but this isn’t going to light the world on fire. Son should have brought back the “Plastic man” sample. 2.5/5 reloads
Ruff Squad – Lion Awakes
RUFF SQUAD RETURNS! This is a big deal considering the crew has basically been inactive for ages. Better yet, this is exactly the kind of high energy bombastic madness that had the scene falling in love with them in the first place. But… wait… it’s less than a minute long? Damn, I gotta deduct half a point for that. 4.5/5 reloads
Splurt Diablo – Suck your Motherboard & Brace Yourself
Brace yourself is the one, but Suck your Motherboard wins off that track title. Both beats are a bit too trappy though, a common flaw in most of the stuff I haven’t bothered to review here. 3/5 reloads to both
Spooky – #TheBurial
At this point, I’ve gone through over 30 dubs so you need to grab my attention to win points. That said, Spooky delivers in a major way by jacking a whole slew of his opponents’ trademark sounds and melodies, clowning them on their own shit. Clever move. 4/5 reloads
Sir Spyro – Sir Sending
Sir Spyro is another legend, but unlike Ruff Squad and Co. he’s still active in a major way and it shows. Still, stealing Kahn’s sample without doing much with it seems more desperate than creative and the whole thing is a bit thrown together. 3/5 reloads
Swifta Beata – Grimy
Whoa, this one’s loud and that vocal sample amps it up. Can’t get mad at that but it’s another short one so I’m deducting points. 3/5 reloads
Swindle – WAR
Aaaaaah yeeeeeaaaaaahhhhh!!! Half the Butterz crew is in Ibiza right now, which kind of defeats the purpose of clashing for king, but Swindle comes through to rep for the camp with a MASSIVE riddim. This absolute corker of a beat features an Edwin Starr interpolation, drum rolls, gun shots, a synth solo and a motherfucking VOCODER. An absolute gem and the only competition to Kahn and Neek so far. In fact, it might just beat it. 5/5 reloads
Teddy Music – Fuck every Grime producer!
Well that track title’s to the point. I’m getting sick of these now. 3.5/5 reloads
Wen – Bombarded (War Dub)
This one dropped just as I was getting ready to turn in, but Wen’s probably my favorite producer this year and I had to go back and give it a listen. I wasn’t disappointed: darkness, vocal chops and threats abound along with classic Grime strings. Not too many producers came with strings – they probably should have. 4.5/5 reloads
Wiley – P..R.O.B.L.E.M, Shell Arf & This ain’t a Trap War
Grime’s Alpha and Omega comes through in the clutch with some of the war’s strongest beats, succeeding where veterans like JME and Jammer flounder. Bizarre punctuation aside, Problem wins by sampling Wiley’s former nemesis Ghetts, Shell Arf stomps around like an Apex predator that owns the place and This ain’t a Trap War slews the competition, lampooning the Trap wave with a ravey synth line and well placed samples. Good on ya, Wiley. 4/5, 4/5 and 4.5/5
Kahn & Neek and Swindle tie for first, but there’s plenty of strong contenders here. Also, at some point Footsie and Preditah got involved in a micro-war of their own. One thing’s for certain, Grime is alive and kicking and this clash isn’t over yet.