Let’s be honest: no one is kissing to grime. It’s 3 am, bass pouring from the speakers, the only thing you’re making love to is your double shot and mixer — or if you really love grime — whatever mad bar is being wheeled by the DJ.
Luckily, for all you lovers out there, R&G exists. Beginning in the early naughts and pioneered by Terror Danjah, Scratcha DVA, Davinche, Katie Pearl and more, it’s essentially the UK underground’s take on American R&B. Think ‘What’s Love’ — but with Kano and Sadie Ama instead of Fat Joe and Ashanti.
Sadly, call and response tracks don’t exist so much in grime these days, but in recent years, the sub-genre has garnered a great following on the underground. Labels like Pearly Whites and Pear Drops, and artists like Gundam, Raheim and Grace are leading the charge on that front.
It’s Valentines Day, so to celebrate we’ve picked out a list of R&G tunes you can kiss, fight or dance to with your significant other. For clarity – we’ve left out a lot of the well-known tunes – preferring to focus on some lesser-known stuff, modern instrumental cuts and a few left-field bits.
Gemma Fox – Gone (Davinche Remix ft 2Face)
Davinche is a pioneer of R&G so it’s only right he’s on this list. ‘Gone’ is a remix, the original being a hip-hop track with J2K on the feature. The vibe on “Gone” is pure high drama, 90s R&B waste ex-boyfriend diss track, with Gemma Fox delivering an apt telling off to a man that’s treating her less than she’s worth. There’s a guest verse from Essentials‘ 2Face and Davinche’s beat hits the right spot between sweet melody and sharp bass.
Elrae – Not Real
“Not Real” – taken from Scratcha DVA’s compilation “DVA Presents: The Voice of Grime Vol.1” – features the quite rare male voice over choppy R&G beats. Usually, the singing is reserved for a woman, but here Elrae does the whole thing himself without an MC. What stands out most here is the beat from Wookie, which fuses UK Garage, Jazz and electronic vibes for a dancefloor killer. Elrae has a full-length album mostly produced by Terror Danjah, so if you can track that down it could be pretty interesting listening.
Low Deep – Jedi
Low Deep is one of the many masters of instrumental R&G, “Jedi” is one of his best tracks. Tear-jerking vocal samples and dreamy melodies make up the track, perfect for rolling around in bed with your significant other in those hours where there’s not much else to be doing.
Flukes – Crying Underwater
Flukes is perhaps best known for producing the Tinie Tempah classic ‘Wifey‘ – the daddy of all that came after it, with a great video to boot – ‘Crying Underwater’ is an instrumental cut, with plush melodies and soft vocal samples chopped up all over the track.
Terror Danjah ft Meleka – U Make Me Feel
This is one of our all-time favourite tracks, never mind favourite R&G tracks. Another originator of R&G and grime as a whole; Terror Danjah blends velvet-smooth synths with magical twinkles in the background, keeping the low end heavy to give enough edge. Meleka‘s vocal is equally perfect lyrics to recite to your significant other while getting cuddly in the sheets. The vocal run at 1:40? Simply to die for.
JME ft Special K & Jewels – Oh
‘Oh’ is track twelve on JME‘s 2010 album “Blam” and sees him detailing all of the favourite bits of being in a relationship – playing coy on the inevitable make-up sex. It’s a cool blend of bass weight and melodic vocals, with JME warming his vocal cords and singing a little in the hook too.
Mordecai & Daffy – Stop Start
If you’re looking for a slice of modern R&G – Pear Drops have you covered – as their back catalogue is full of bangers inspired by the sound, pushing it into some clubbier territories too. “Stop Start” is super glossy, high energy and begging for an MC and singer to link up for call and response vibes. You can really hear the Timbaland influence on ‘Stop Start’ – one to dance the night away with your partner, we reckon.
Kelela – Enemy
This one was released on Kelela‘s “Cut 4 Me” mixtape – and if we’re honest – the standard every artist should be looking at when making R&G nowadays. ‘Enemy’ is a 4K take on the style, the stabs carrying hefty impact and glistening with a lustrous sheen. Kelela draws out an unnamed foe – so it’s probably not one to load up on the love playlist – but you can vibe to this while wishing the worst on someone that recently wronged you.
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