January has been an active month for grime. Plenty of good tracks, great sets and a lot of good projects have been released; that’s not to mention the war dubs flying around lately. This is the first in a new series from us, rounding up the best grime music at the end of each month.
Grandmixxer – ENDZ MUSIC
Two things spring to mind when thinking about a Grandmixxer production: one, his ability to capture the weird essence of early grime; two, his dedication to crafting a hard underground sound. His latest EP – titled ENDZ MUSIC – gives us a nearly ten-minute opening track and the instrumental versions of ‘Climbing‘ and ‘Go‘. ‘Ancestral Beatdown’ opens up the EP, blending coarse sounds, dissonant bass and crazy samples. Think about if Lou Reed circa Metal Machine Music collaborated with Sun Ra on a sound system banger – the former handling the sound and the latter on the arrangement. ‘3330’ keeps the distorted bass intact while throwing claps, screams and percussion samples into the mix for a minimal track that is still full of blunt force. ‘BMW i8’ closes out the EP and is driven by a winding low end, smooth choral samples and heady percussion – there’s no drop on this one, the intensity coming from how each element of the track combines for a continuous hit of speaker pressure. ‘ENDZ MUSIC’ is a solid start to the year for Grandmixxer and the standout track has to be the opener. Uncompromising, experimental and uncanny, why can’t grime producers can’t make ten minute long epics?
Big E-D – B.A.U EP
Big E-D is perhaps best known as being the man behind ‘Frontline‘, the beat used for the classic Newham Generals track of the same name. His latest release ‘B.A.U’ – which stands for business as usual – gives us an insight into the type of grime music he has been making lately. There’s no time to glutton on the past – save for Big E-D giving us a remastered version of ‘Frontline’– which is hard to think of as traditionally nostalgic because it still sounds so ahead of its time today. Highlights come in the form of ’94 Carrot’ which is driven by intense bass weight, perilous choir samples and bloops that tweak their way through the track; while ‘Rio Fully Geeked’ keeps it dark but injects conquering brass lines and synths that ring out like air-raid sirens. ‘B.A.U’ fits nicely into the canon of trap-inspired and super dark grime instrumentals made for the speakers, a sound that has been perfected by the likes of Silencer, Filthy Gears, Trends and more. Big E-D probably influenced most of these guys in some way and when listening to ‘Frontline’, you can hear how the minimal style of that track would eventually morph into the sounds heard on this EP, due to technological improvement and new influences. If this is Big E-D’s return to the game, our ears will be open for whatever comes in the future.
Zonae – 2020
Zonae is a producer from Carlisle, best known for his track ‘Diamonds‘ – a high-voltage grime banger released on L U C Y‘s record label SZNS7N. Previous material includes the self-released ‘Heartless / Love Lockarf‘, which rebooted two Kanye West classics into lean grime for the club. His latest release – titled ‘2020 – is a collection of three grime instrumentals. The robust melodies of ‘Sea Shanteh’ skip over equally muscular percussion lines; while ‘Etihad’ uses old school grime sounds as the jump-off before mangling them into destructive bass for a club banger. Final and stand-out track ‘Butterfly’ is a gloomy cut that’s offset by nimble synth runs and longing vocal samples. Overall, ‘2020’ is a snapshot of a promising producer – as Zonae can make banging grime music but isn’t afraid to approach it a little differently to others.
Blay Vision – Produced by Blay Vol. 1
Blay Vision‘s production style is tinted with elements of trap and contemporary rap music, but what sets his beats apart are the finishing touches. Irresistible melodies and strong hooks are a mainstay of his instrumentals, giving him an instantly recognisable signature sound. His latest release – titled Produced by Blay Vol. 1 – gives us some fresh beats as well as the instrumentals to some of his latest tracks. Most of the material is minimal as some tracks were originally vocal releases, but on ‘Too Much Leng’ you could envision a DJ mixing elements of a different track in the spaces where Blay’s vocal and hooks are supposed to be. The lack of voice never hurts the track, because the intricacies of the beats are heard clearly. It stands out on tracks like ‘Johnny Cage’ and ‘Only One’, too. The former opens with gothic string plucks before leading with a silky flute riff, while the latter features driving bass complimented by frosty synth runs. The Teeza featuring ‘Leng Arf’ does what it says on the tin, combining pools of bass with edgy synths that jolt like a nervous twitch. Overall, ‘Produced By Blay Vol. 1’ shows a beat-maker that excels in the art of creating engaging textures within his tracks.
Chowerman – The Next Chapter
Chowerman is a relatively new MC, his rapid-fire flow and ability to craft a coherent song standing out as his main strengths as an artist. His new EP – titled ‘The Next Chapter’ – is a seven track offering that features production and guest verses from a handful of underground grime names. ‘London City’ gives a snapshot of life from his perspective; while ‘Bengali Freestyle’ muses on youth violence, terrorism double standards and closure of youth clubs, signed off with a potent delivery that sounds like hip-hop done with a grime attitude. ‘Normal’ pools in frequent collaborator Razor, the two letting off prickly flows while Chowerman gives us an insight into his life growing up. Standout track ‘Sticky’ is a lively joint that spins a tale about a night that could’ve gone wrong, Joe Fire and Dutchie Limao providing equally zestful guest verses. Overall, ‘The Next Chapter’ is a solid EP that shows an MC who can make good, tangible songs with focused subject matter that doesn’t veer off into empty hype talk.
JEB1 – Obeah Man’s Conclusion
JEB1 makes music like nobodies business and in January alone he’s put out two projects. The first of these two is titled ‘Obeah Man’s Conclusion’ and is three tracks of pure grime artillery. Title track ‘Obeah Man’s Conclusion’ is driven by intense melody lines, crazy trills and a boatload of gunshot samples. ‘Orisha Skank’ places flagrant bass lines front and centre. EP closer ‘Sly’ is the darkest of the three, led by a heat-drenched synth line that lurks its way through the track.