Son Raw returns to East Village Radio for #BirdsInTheSky this Saturday 8-10PMEST, featuring a special guest mix from LA based producer Letta.
The days are colder, the nights are darker, and editors are asking me for wrap ups. The end (of the year) is nigh. There’s also a slew of last minute releases competing for your attention and I’ve got the dirt on the best of the best.
Dread D – Siege EP
The history of UK dance music is full of ideas that once were or could have been. Look at any documentary on garage’s shift towards grime and you’ll hear emcees and producers use terms like sublow, eski and 8bar to describe their music. Grime ultimately won as a placeholder for all of those styles, but each word offered its own possibilities, and going into 2016, it’s time to reevaluate sublow. A dark, percussive, club-oriented style developed by the Black Ops collective, it may have been supplanted in the popular narrative by Wiley’s more melodic squarewaves, but not before producers like Jon E Cash, Dread D, and Charmzy dropped a ton of vinyl, leaving a deep impression on the scene. Even today, it’s impossible to imagine acts like Kahn & Neek being half as dark without a heavy dose of Black Ops influence.
All of which to say, Black Ops is back. Dread D is first out the gate with the Siege EP on Local Action. The record reconfigures the classic Black Ops soundkit for 2015. The results are devastating—massive basslines collide with rapid fire drums, giving everybody who missed the sound the first time around a chance to get acquainted with a devastating strand of rave music. Better yet, he recently hit up Rinse alongside Jon E Cash, with both promising even more new music going into 2016. Considering just how vital their classic dubplates sound even today, that’s reason to celebrate.
Kid D – Shaolin Shoggle EP
Veteran producers making a second impact is a common occurrence these days, essentially negating the fallacy that grime’s new wave of producers is gentrifying the genre. You can argue about people’s backgrounds all you want but when OG producers like Kid D and Ironsoul have the proper context to release their tunes everybody wins.
Kid D in particular has been dropping EP after EP this year, building on his reputation as the man behind some of Wiley’s stronger tracks. His latest, Shaolin Shoggle, is my favorite solo release of his yet. Trading his R&G sound for sinogrime, he manages the rare feat of crafting an entire EP out of Asian-motifs without it sounding like the kind of background music you’d hear in a Chinese takeaway shop. The title track will straight up bring you back to an era when dubstep was still taking in outside influences, combining wiggly bass with kung fu film samples. Meanwhile, Golden Dragon is as chill as it gets, while still offering all of grime’s bump and bass. Ironsoul’s return has been a bit more lowkey: his E-Motion EP is vinyl only and all I’ve got to go by are previews, but it sounds like he’s never left. He switches from his Kromestar Alias’ electronic heaviness to sample choppage without missing a beat. Two more reasons 2015’s been a fantastic year.
Myth – Backseat Love EP
Rabit and Myth are an interesting combination. The first just released his debut LP on Tri Angle, and it’s a monstrous, growling beast that seemingly owes as much to noise as to grime. Press engagements have made a point of distancing the Texas-based producer from the genre, and that’s not an unfair call. The first summer release on his Halcyon Veil label came courtesy of Myth, a South-West London producer seemingly fully invested in the UK scene, particularly its affinity for darkness and feminine pressure. Ultimately, despite geography or critical categorization, they both share more similarities than differences and their latest 12″—a new version of Backseat Love previously released on Blacklink this spring—makes that clear. Swallowing R&B whole and spitting back out a weirder, colder incarnation, it’s the sort of release that’ll be as appealing to both new-school club kids as it will be to adventurous grime DJs who complement their 8bar madness with an experimental flex.
Finally, Murlo low-key dropped an album’s worth of music on us via Mixpak. When your EP is 3 minutes shy of Illmatic, it might not be an EP anymore, bruh, particularly in a year where a number of producers have dropped 30 minute albums. Semantics aside, Odyssey sees Murlo further develop his fusion of sticky-sweet dancehall pop into uptempo grimy-garage. There’s gated-trance (“Cascade”), melodic sinogrime bashment (“Moodswung”), 2-step (“Furnace”), and enough chipmunked R&B samples to make the Heatmakerz blush. It’s practically all club tried and tested, but throw it on in the whip and watch your girl go crazy.