Son Raw’s September Vocal Grime Wrap-Up

Weighing in on Novelist's recent departure from The Square, and the best tracks in vocal grime from the past few weeks
By    September 14, 2015


Son Raw rock the purple Hammers like Piccolo

I admittedly haven’t had time to catch many radio sets this month given the absolute avalanche of new music getting released each week, but there have been a few major releases in vocal grime worth mentioning, most of which have been bubbling on dub/Youtube for a while now.

First up, Logan Sama will release his eagerly awaited Fabriclive mix on the 25th of September. I interviewed Logan over at Fact and he broke down the process behind assembling the CD so go read that, but I’d like to share my personal thoughts on the release as well. A key barrier to getting new people into grime has been convincing them to listen to loud, overly compressed radio sets. Like Screw tapes and Houston, live sets are an integral part of what makes London grime so unique – but the format is inherently difficult to get into.

Logan’s Fabriclive does as good a job as any in bridging that gap for a new generation just getting into grime – whether Americans who never had access to pirate radio or younger UK kids who grew up in the youtube era. It’s not perfect – the beat selection plays it safe – but minor quibbles aside, it’s an excellent entry-point into the genre at a time when its getting a ton of outside attention, and a great document for the scene at a time when it deserves a victory lap.

This one dropped last month, but better late than never. I’d pegged AJ Tracey as a smooth type thanks to “Wifey Riddim” and his football themed “Champions League,” but his “Spirit Bomb” video completely upended that idea – this is as trapped out as grime gets. Combining trap/drill drum rolls and gothic bells to grime’s tempo and street fighter samples, the track is on some darker than dark biz, providing Tracey with plenty of room to discuss pyrex business. The Dragonball Z nod on the title is a nice touch too, I can’t get mad at an Akira Toriyama reference.

I don’t get into gossip, but Novelist leaving The Square was pretty massive news this month and it left a few people wondering if the crew could survive without their star player. For my money, it’s a hard blow but not a crushing one: there’s more than enough talent to go around with a couple of standouts releasing great songs. Elf Kid’s “Golden Boy” features a minimalist, video gamy beat and his high register has him sounding like a generation’s answer to Dizzee. Deecee is all of 16 years old and barely sounds like his voice’s broken but he’s already taking radio by storm and getting crucial cosigns by names like Oil Gang for “What you Know About.”

Finally, Faultsz is all over Local Action producer Finn’s Iya, absolutely murdering the Heatmakerz-style chipmunk soul beat. Looks like the kids are alright.

Finally, Stormzy surprised the world (or at least, he surprised me) by releasing two of his more popular freestyles as his new single. “WickedSkengMan 4” and “Shut Up” flip JME’s “Serious” and the legendary “Functions on the Low beat,” respectively, and while it’s easy to criticize him for jacking classics, the hype surrounding beats like “Rhythm n’ Gash” proves that’s a smart move. These beats may have been rinsed by grime’s original audience, but they never went beyond the ends, despite being some of the best music made this millennium. If one of today’s rising stars wants to give them some shine, I’m all about that.

(But I’m still riding for Discarda’s “Havana.” Some things just can’t be topped.)

Catch you next month.

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