Jammz has put in his ten thousand hours. An emcee since his preteens, live slots at the Old Blue Last, merch collaborations with O.G grime blog Once Upon A Grime and the release of his 2010 EP I Am Grime were his early breaks in the scene. However, things really took flight in 2015. Jammz, alongside AJ Tracey, Big Zuu, Novelist and more, were part of grime’s radio boom. Fuelled by camaraderie and the will to be heard, they found their voices across the many internet radio stations. Grime had a mainstream glamour at the time; they provided the underground grit.
Scene forebears began to take note. Logan Sama tapped the group for FabricLive, SBTV and Boiler Room appearances, while Jammz was earmarked as an artist to watch by The Guardian. Since then, he’s never really strayed from grime. Where some of his peers have moved away from the genre, Jammz has fine-tuned his craft through new flow patterns, global relationships and a self-sustaining approach to his career. It’s allowed him to take grime into new spaces.
‘Poet In Da Corner’ — made alongside multi-disciplinary artist Debris Steveson – brought grime into the theatre. Initially tasked with reworking songs from Boy In Da Corner, a change in director meant that he took on a greater role in the production. Eventually, he went from assisting on the character of SS Vyper, to becoming SS Vyper, the best friend of Stevenson’s character in the play. A grime-influenced theatre production is the type of work that calls people to think about grime beyond radio, raves and records. It asks the audience to consider the genre as a vehicle to express a range of emotions. And this type of expression is where Pink Lemonade – Jammz’s debut album – excels.
The opening track, ‘The Flavour,’ drops us in the mind’s eye. Set against a drone that sounds like an ensemble of church bells hit in unison with timpani mallets, Jammz lays down his personal manifesto. An individualist mindset no matter the material conditions, no faking and plenty of ambition. It’s interspersed with the emotion of his journey so far, a ronin’s story of life from then to the present moment.
‘Fi Real’ and ‘Raiden & Tyrone’ provide the album with a lightning flash. The former track sees Jammz tap into his Caribbean background, delivering a concentration of flows that, together with the beat, produce the raise of a gun finger and a moving of the body. The latter sees him link up with old radio mate Mez and the two attack the mic at full tilt over sharp-edged basslines. No hooks, straight fire.
Other than the assertion of Jammz’s cultural background through patois lyrics, there isn’t much in the way of subject matter across these two tracks. It’s simply a different energy. As much as grime is about bringing environments to life, it’s also about having a good time. Sometimes that means spitting a full clip of lyrics with style and finesse. ‘Fi Real’ and ‘Raiden & Tyrone’ transmit that energy back to the earphones, causing a sharp excitement when they land.
The cavernous low-end of ‘Rebellious’ sees Jammz trace his own history, contextualising his lived experience through his family background, his art, historical plight, and the pressures of inner-city living. It’s a call to action but also an act of defiance. His character will stand firm no matter what systemic challenge is placed before him. ‘Forgive Me’, produced by grime stalwart J Beatz, drops a sugar-sweet lead riff into a set of gritty rhythms. On the mic, Jammz writes an open letter. He muses on the effects of teenage misgivings and details the struggle of paranoia, tying up the anecdotes with the life lessons he’s learnt since then.
Across the thirteen tracks on Pink Lemonade, Jammz expresses a range of feelings. He brings the world around him to life, contextualising his hopes, fears, stressors, moments of joy and talents to deliver a well-balanced debut album. Ultimately, we’re given more of the things we know he’s great at and insights into his personality not heard on previous tunes. Grime artists aren’t static, and Pink Lemonade shows that in abundance.
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