Son Raw’s Grime Vocal Wrap-Up: Shelling Season

Son Raw looks at London's newest emcees
By    June 24, 2015


Son Raw’s shelling this year

I’m poo-pooing hip-hop until rappers start spitting again and stop trying to make conceptual acid rock/free jazz/pop punk/light entertainment/confessional albums. Or until Migos’ album drops, whichever comes first. Thankfully, the wave of grime emcees I wrote about earlier this month have been dropping projects left and right, and they’re pretty much all worth your time.

First up, we have Big Zuu whose gruff baritone and energetic flow make him a standout this month. Seriously, think about what an emcee with “Big” as a part of his name should sound like, and that voice box is pretty much it. His Big Who? EP focuses on street-tale tinged bragging over beats that draw from grime’s established sound palette, and even if there’s a definite misstep in the bombastic “Ride Out,” the EP features one of my favorites this month in “Shelling Dis Year.” The collab with fellow up-and-comer Mic Ty shows definite chemistry, and you can never go wrong with a minimalist square wave melody.

AJ Tracey’s The Front EP features a Final Fantasy inspired cover but the music is less videogame nerd than cocksure emcee. As I mentioned in FACT’s Singles Club, this generation of emcees seems less focused on personality-focused characters than straight up spitters, but AJ’s already distinguishing himself by tackling a couple of different topics and going beyond one line flows. He’s got a particular knack for gyal tunes, and his “Wifey Riddim” somehow flips the melody from “No Scrubs” and gets away with it.

Every mention of Kwam comes with the disclosure that he’s not actually a new emcee, he’s actually been around for a minute. He’s been getting shine alongside the youngers though, so he’s fair game for this write up and his added experience is definitely a plus. More topical and self-reflective than the other releases I’m covering, his I Don’t Know EP is a grown man’s look at how modern society can be just as alienating as the road. The production is a bit more developed than your average grime release as well, twisting the genre’s building blocks towards skunky paranoia and grim self reflection. One for the heads paying attention to the words.

Finally, Mic Ty (AKA Microphone Tyson) dropped the weightiest release this month with Av’ Dis–a project he’s referred to as “not an EP, not a mixtape.” Formatting semantics aside, it’s got plenty of fire: “Whos This” with Big Zuu is just as powerful as their collaboration on the Big Who EP, with both emcees absolutely destroying Jammz’ best beat yet. The rest of the tape features names like Spooky, Lolingo, and (the very underrated) Lington–meaning it’s heavy on bangers–perfect for Ty’s authoritative flow. Not 110% sold on “Off to Murk’s” Disney hook, but you’re allowed a cheeky chorus when the rest of your EP features track titles like “64 Bar Statement Pt. II and “96 Bar Shells.”

MP3: Big Zuu – Big Who? (left click)
MP3: AJ Tracey – The Front (left click)
MP3: Kwam – I Don’t Know (left click)
MP3: Mic Ty – Av’ Dis (left click)

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