Oil Gang have been releasing grime records for ten years, providing the modern scene with instrumental – and some vocal – records made to target the dance floor. The record label started in 2010 as an outlet for its owner – who uses the same name for his DJ sets – to release the type of grime music he likes.

The label operates around a core group of artists: Spooky Bizzle, JT The Goon and Boylan, but they’ve released EP’s from Novelist, D.O.K and Splurt Diablo to name a few. Raw and uncompromising, you’d file a lot of the records from the label in the rave centric, no holds barred type of grime that artists like Trends, Silencer and more have released over the years.

The records featured in this article are some of The Art Of Grime’s personal favourites, but also highlight various milestones for the label, as well as records that sum up the ethos of the label as a whole.

JT The Goon – King Triton

In the early days of grime, JT co-produced the Slew Dem classic “Gunman Riddim” with Waifer – which Wiley and more did versions of. He stopped making music until he put out a few EPs and ended up getting in with the Boxed crew, which Oil Gang was part of at the time. From there, he released a few EP’s – including “Plume” with Murlo – but King Triton remains his standout piece of work. It was a milestone for both parties. It’s JT The Goon’s debut album and Oil Gang’s first full-length album release.

“King Triton” displays a remarkable sense of melody over its twelve tracks. On tracks like “Broken Silence” motifs flourish, complimented by other grandiose melody lines, each twinkling side by side without ever getting in the way of each other. JT’s musical prowess is on show throughout – but the album never loses sight of its grime rooting – “Ice Pick” showing how melody and impact can combine to make a full-tilt grime track. Overall, there’s a playful feel to the record, a track like “One Legged Warrior” sounding as epic as the name suggests.

Spooky Bizzle – Haunted Joyride Version Excursions

The version excursion is a concept grime took from dancehall. In grime, they either follow the original format – like the “Gunman Riddim” versions mentioned previously – or are put together by a label as Oil Gang did with “Haunted Joyride.” The idea is pretty simple: one instrumental, a few MCs and usually plenty of reloading. The record was released last year, marking Oil Gang’s first foray into vocal releases.

There’s a heavy Jamaican influence over the record, with most of the MCs spitting crazy patois bars all over the instrumental, which bounces with all the zest of a great dancehall riddim. The standout from the record being Nasty Jack‘s “S.U.N”. Jack switches between a patois and London dialect – which is pretty standard fare for most MCs – but he takes his inspiration from someone like Eek-a-Mouse, sing-jaying a set of his most reload worthy bars.

Novelist – Sniper EP

Like many of the grime greats, Novelist is an MC and producer. He’s a Mercury Award nominated artist now, pushing a sound that is well and truly his. Around the time “Sniper EP” was released – he was still only seventeen – fresh from releasing “Take Time”, a track that many people credit with putting the fire back into vocal grime.

Novelist’s artistry was clear when listening to his sets and tracks around this time, but credit to Oil Gang for securing a record from such a striking talent. ‘Mee2 Remix’ is our favourite, the bugged out melody lines jittering all over tough as nails percussion.

Spooky Bizzle – Coolie Joyride EP

DJ’s have battered ‘Coolie Joyride’ on sets for years, the sequel to Spooky’s ‘Joyride Riddim‘ that was released back in 2005. The story goes that Oil Gang tried to sign this record, Spooky couldn’t find it, but then came back later with a rebuilt version of the beat from the parts he’d found. As they say, the rest is history.

‘Coolie Joyride’ is as euphoric as grime can get, all high energy rhythms; while ‘Electric Fence’ features Spooky’s signature mangled style, packed with pounding AMS lines and heavy percussion.

Trends & Boylan – Norman Bates EP

By now, ‘Norman Bates’ is a certified modern classic. Released in 2016, it received support from all the major DJs and it still pops up in sets today. If there had to be a record that sums up Oil Gang as a label, “Norman Bates” would have to be the pick. Dark, uncompromising grime tailor made for the club. Hitting all the right spots without venturing into bro-step territory – a testament to the skill of the producers that made it.

“Shimmy” and “Octopus” are on the flip, carrying a ton of weight. Boylan turns clarinet motifs on their head for the former; while Trends drops a ton of bass from the speakers on the latter.

Posted by:Ryan Moss

I'm the sole founder, editor and writer for The Art Of Grime. I love grime and want to push all the sick artists doing things at the moment.

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