Mez – MezTape Vol.1
“MezTape Vol.1” is grime at its most vibrant. On tracks like ‘Grinding’ and ‘Woiya’, Mez transports the brain to the low ceilings of a basement club space, where the capacity is in the mid-hundreds and the lights are low.
He contorts words into abstract shapes, and when combined with seismic bass, relentless percussion, bouncy lead lines and mangled samples, the grime flow state is activated. Peak time at the dance, where the sounds keep coming, the body moving accordingly to the maverick symphony.
It’s intense, and that continues on ‘Africa Continent’, where Mez’s spiky flows are nestled between Hitman Hyper’s heritage referencing bars and Badness’s dancehall styley. ‘Naughty’ is a bedroom jam with a cosmic beat, while ‘Sauvignon Blanc’ tells the story of a special love; the two tracks offer a simmer to the sizzle of the previous tunes.
‘Fling Weh’ is a jumpy, trap-influenced club cut and ‘Pain’ closes the record on a high as Mez and Ace1 deliver motion-blur mic work over crunching bass lines.
Mez has come into his own over the past few years; this tape goes a long way to cementing him as one of the genre’s stand-out personalities.
Squintz – SQ GRIME
Alongside his MobSet crew member Renz and fellow up comers Duppy and TiaTalks, Squintz has provided the scene with a shot of youthful energy over the past year. His latest release, “SQ Grime”, is twenty-four tracks deep, featuring a glut of collaborations from emcees, producers and even his dad.
‘Get Set’ features bubbling vocal hooks, ‘PTSD’ is packed with unrelenting flows and ‘Self Interest’ drips with unshakeable confidence. These tracks capture grime’s immediate energy, quick bursts of exhilaration over driving instrumentals.
‘What’s Going On’ is perhaps the standout of the opening five tracks. It sees Squintz pull back the curtain ever so slightly, sprinkling stories of his upbringing among the display of boundless lyrical energy. This approach continues on ‘People Forget’, ‘Carry On’ and ‘Locked In A Cell’, where it becomes clear that Squintz excels when he puts pen to paper on his view of life and society.
Twenty-four tracks is long, sure, but don’t be put off: “SQ Grime” is grime brought to life, a balanced mixture of machine-gun flowing and inward-looking writing.
Lyrical Strally – The Dessert
Since lighting up the scene way back when the individual members of YGG have branched out into different avenues. Lyrical Strally has continued to work closely with DJ & producer Travis-T, and this month he returns to Street Frequency Recordings with his latest project: “The Dessert”.
“The Dessert” consists mainly of grime, but Strally plays with rap too. He posits himself as the ice-cool man in the room on ‘Mr Smoov’, while ‘Sorbet Street’ and ‘Storytime’ are mid-tempo, boom-bap rollers. The former deals with the contradictions of road life; the latter covers snakes, fake friends and the pursuit of the bag.
‘Biscotti’ and ‘MAC’Flurry’ sees LS deliver the type of unbending grime flows he made his name on, but ‘Work’ is where the tape is at its strongest. Here, he details the humdrum of menial work, where the demands are stratospheric and long hours wreck the work-life balance. It’s a nice change of pace from the usual grime songs about work, with Strally’s delivery capturing the mundane, unbothered feeling these jobs leave you with.
Tying the record together are the beats. Along with producers Travis-T, Gillz and NES, Strally presents a vision of grime that’s defined more by opulent sampling and vivid lead riffs than it is heavy bass and clattering rhythms. It’s a given that an emcee will have more freedom away from the makeup of a crew, and on “The Dessert”, Lyrical Strally’s wings are fully spread.
Boss Mischief – Discovery
If there was an award for making grime music you can kiss your lover to, I think Boss Mischief would win it. This month sees him return with “Discovery”, an eight-track record that delivers soulful grime cuts and choppy club music. Opener ‘Girls Girls Girls’ is full of alluring tension, while ‘Caught Out’ and ‘Boom Selection’ are packed with rhythm, the latter making 90s R&B sound like futuristic rave music. For his refix of Lonyo’s ‘Summer Of Love’, Mischief teases out the esoteric parts of the original, turning what was once a chart hit into an impactful club banger. The best remixing places the familiar into new contexts and on “Discovery”, Boss Mischief does that and then some.
Amang Djaso – Cais do Sodré
Rotterdam beatmaker and DJ Amang Djaso returns with “Cais do Sodré”. Title track ‘Cais do Sodré’ is the mellower of the two, blending pitched-up vocals, gritty bass and body-moving percussion, and ‘Inflation’ chugs from the speaker as Djaso layers an arsenal of bass timbres into the mix. Grab “Cais do Sodré” for potent rhythms.
Lemzly Dale – Best Before Vol.2
“Best Before Vol.2” sees Lemzly Dale let off some tunes from his archive. The precisely modulated bass notes of ‘Basics’ combine with chirpy melodies, creating a polyphonic funk-grime sound that travels through the speaker with a decided bounce. Elsewhere, ‘Jill’, ‘Be Clear’, ‘Eternal’ and ‘Talk About Me’ give grime a seductive sheen, but it’s the latter that stands out the most, thanks to ornate sampling and detailed instrumentation. There is a sense of vitality running through these beats. If this is from the archives, I can’t wait to hear what fresh sounds Lemzly has cooking.
Sir Hiss – Icey Soul
On “Icey Soul”, Sir Hiss looks back to go forward. The title track ‘Icey Soul’ takes the classic grime sounds, douses them in echo, then layers them among a mountain of screwface-inducing low-end, gunshot samples and clattering percussion. It’s the type of tune where the motion is firmly tilted forward, unrelenting in sound and primed to cause all kinds of reload shenanigans. ‘Skew Whiffy’ recalls old-school ‘vs’ riddims. The topline brings the ear to attention with chaotic AMS riffs, but the rhythms give it life, meticulous programming that screams energy. I’ve often written that mining the eski sound bank is all about the approach, and here the approach is thoroughly on point.