Son Raw is proper tanned.
Finn– “Late at Night” / “Lightworks”
First up, Local Action gunner, noted anti-kangaroo advocate, and England’s most underrated DJ, Finn has launched a new label called 2 B Real focusing on belters, corkers, crackers, bangers, and any other types of tunes that make people lose their shit on the dance floor. So far so good, and the debut release lives up to the hype—highlight “Late at Night” comes in two equally potent variations, throwing ghetto house drums and chops, jungle pads, and grime bass in a blender set to purée. Meanwhile, “Lightworks” featuring Swing Ting’s Fox splits the difference between Finn’s previous R&G material and the kind of stompers he’s been tearing up radio with.
P-Jam– “Pepper Pot Riddim”
The riddim pack, where a selection of emcees rip apart a single beat over several versions, is a beloved dancehall institution that somehow never caught on in grime despite Wiley’s best attempts to popularize the format with “Ice Rink.” With the UK emcee scene rapidly shifting towards Afrobeats and Trap however, it might be an idea whose time has come, and veteran P-Jam’s “Pepper Pot Riddim” excursion hopefully gets a few more emcees and producers interested. The instrumental is grime at its best, mixing up dancehall’s bump and flex to cold electronic sounds, but it’s hearing eight emcees battle for supremacy with their individual takes that really makes the release stand out. For my money, ragga sound killers Armour and Riko, N.A.S.T.Y crew vet Hyper, and the melodic Mr. Williamz are the winners, but there’s not a dud to be seen in the set.
Murlo – Club Coil
Murlo’s a true original. At a time when sounds and styles get rinsed out more quickly than ever due to the internet hive mind, he’s kept on honing a unique signature sound and twisting it into new shapes, and Club Coil (out soon) on Mixpak is his best work yet. It’s a cross genre affair: the vocal cuts with repeat collaborator Gemma Dunleavy beg the question why Murlo hasn’t been topped by a mainstream R&B star yet, while “Moss” and “Velvet & Rust” tackle dance music’s two poles of house and dancehall without ever falling into cliché by substituting swing for stomp and meditative vibes over raunchiness. Personally though, I can’t get enough of “Tired of You,” which twists grime and rave tropes into a futuristic soundscape befitting its next level anime video.
Rtkal & Shokryme (Equiknoxx) – “BBS”
Another wrap up, another Equiknoxx update, but that’s because these guys don’t stop working and always dropping fire. This month, we’re looking at Rtkal & Shokryme’s “BBS,” out now on both of their EPs on Equiknoxx music. Balancing grime and dancehall styles, the ode to big bombaclaat spliffs blazes yet another post-grime avenue that keeps the genre’s spirit alive without repeating old sounds. Want more? They also dropped a new mixtape presenting the work of Addis Pablo—yes, son of the legendary Augustus—and it’s a perfect fusion of classic dub and new sounds.
Kaido / Alaska – “Kennedy Bridge” / “Solace”
Finally, two loosies caught my ear this month. Newcomer Kaido’s “Kennedy Bridge,” out now on White Peach, might be my favorite dubstep tune in half a decade, not because it’s incredibly different but because it nails everything right about the style, merging it with sino-grime to shake the genre out of its purist doldrums into something closer to the open-minded approach that defined it from ’06-’09. Similarly, Alaska’s “Solace” is A1 jungle, merging soulful pads to chopped up vocals and drum breaks.