Son Raw is fully equipped with 2 chrome clips.
With the release of Skepta’s Konnichiwa, it seems like everyone and their mother is into grime right now, which is suspect because I remember all of y’all writing about deep house last year. I’m getting offers on the daily to write about this stuff, which is great, but I’m turning down most publications because they don’t have a clue, which is not. Bandwagon jumping aside, a rising ship lifts all tides, so if Boy Better Know’s ascendency to the pop space can shine a light on underground records like the ones I’m profiling this month, all the better.
Lemzly Dale– “No Long Talk”
First this month, let’s take a second to recognize that Bristol’s on a roll. The city just got a new underground urban and electronic music station in SWU.FM thanks to the hard work of many dedicated souls, including friend of the site KOAST. In the two weeks since its launch, it’s already proven itself to be a strong competitor and contributor to the radio space thanks to a truly stacked roster, more than holding its own against London stations drawing from a much larger city’s talent pool. In terms of records, Sector 7 are back with their 3rd wax-only platter, this time from label co-owner Lemzly Dale. “No Long Talk” is Lemzly’s hardest beat yet, a dark percussive affair that fits in perfectly with the kind of music peers like Kahn & Neek, Hi5Ghost, and Boofy are putting out.
At this point, those guys almost operate like a hivemind or scene unto themselves, with everyone contributing ideas and tunes to a common sonic space. Fittingly, Kahn & Neek handle the b-side remix, flipping the energy around on dubbier flex perfect for either emcees or more meditative nights. Huge record for a label that’s 3 for 3.
Boxed Records – Boxed002
Boxed002 isn’t quite out yet, so this is cheating a little bit, but the pre-orders are up and the release is imminent so there’s no reason for me not to speak on the collective’s second group release. Following the template set by 001, the record’s got four tunes with each founding member (Slackk, Mr Mitch, Oil Gang, and Logos) choosing a track apiece. Logos opens opens up the A-side with “Marked 4 Death Gun Man,” a stern reminder that when it comes to deconstructing grime’s original sonic elements, he was the first and remains the best. By my count the tune flips the AMS bassline, breaking glass, gun shots, grindin’ drums, Coolie Joyride’s HEY exclamations, a truly sinister vocal sample and little else.
The Mitch-selected “Lullaby” by Iglew starts off far calmer before suddenly dropping into some euphoric chords and…no drums. By now we’ve all gotten used to weightless music, but this actually manages to be a weightless BANGER, no small task. Spooky and Boylan’s “Peckham to Hackney” is more traditional in form, but it’s notable since these two producers have almost perfectly complimentary strengths—Boylan being a master at sound design and Spooky having an unparalleled sense of rhythm. The result is a high-definition bass-led track of the highest order, and hopefully a preview of what’s in store for future Oil Gang releases. Finally, Slackk presents “Blurred Rain” by newcomer Jawside—a sino-grime and squarewave affair that doesn’t re-invent the wheel but doesn’t need to considering it rolls smoother than 99% of what I’ve heard this year. This one will be in my crates for a while.
Jammz – Underdog Season
On the vocal side, Skepta’s been hoovering all of the oxygen in the room, but for my money, Jammz’ Underdog Season with Jack Dat is just as necessary a listen, less world conquering victory lap than hungry attention-grabbing tour de force. The competition in the emcee space is stiffer than ever this year, with the whole class of 14-15 jockeying for position and a whole wave of new emcees bustling their way in, but Underdog Season’s a reminder that Jammz has a considerable lead on the competition in terms of hours of radio, as well as songwriting. To wit, standout track “Just Eat” (produced by underrated producer Anz—keep an eye on her) tells a hilarious story of cockblocking and terrible service by everyone’s (least) favorite delivery app. That’s the kind of humor and relatable content that’ll separate an artist from the 25 cats with hot 16s competing for the spot.
It seems like not a month goes by without my writing about a Swing Ting affiliated release, but that’s because those guys know how to get good music out. This time, it’s label-founder Sam’Rai and Hyperdub-alum Okzharp collaborating on “Gated” for Keysound Records’, who gently nudged all involved towards the dark and sexier side of the musical spectrum. A riddim-pack in the Jamaican tradition, “Gated” features three vocal takes on the titular beat, all of which explore moody and sensual takes on contemporary African dance music. That’s a bit outside of my realm of expertise (I won’t indict myself by calling it Afrobeats in case that’s off the mark) but I know what I like, and all of these are perfect 4AM bubblers.
Pear Drops – Label Compilation
Finally, if you’re looking for more DJ food and want to discover even more new producers, upstart label Pear Drops has just released a fresh new compilation full of big names like Gemmy, Unkey, Nico Lindsay and DJ Cable, as well as must-know newcomers like As.If.Kid, Nights and Polonis, and Rapture 4D. If you’ve been tuning in to my radio show (and you should)—you know.