“Money Talk” is the new track and debut video, from Up-and-coming MC Tash. It’s a heavy yet melodic track with an absolutely sick beat and Tash’s silky, hypnotic vocals! Lets start with the beat, the track is driven by a smooth, tinkling piano melody that gives the song a touch of elegance which is contrasted heavily with the skitttering percussion and rattling bass that accompanies it. It’s funny because on the surface you’d be easily mistaken that the beat is quite subtle and understated but, upon closer listening, this is very decieving. The percussion is sharp and punchy, contrasting with the smoothness of the piano and when the bass hits believe me it’s heavy. It works very well however and compliments Tash’s vocal performance perfectly. Speaking of which, vocals wise Tash’s flow naturally lends itself to wordplay: “All day everyday I’ve been hittin cells / Even tho I’ve got keys my names been ringin bells / I was in the trap, he was with his girl / that’s a thousand grams on the digi scale / the man like talk, the like little girls / get my young g round just to give em shells”. The delivery is calm and considered, adding extra weight to punchlines and makes rhymes appear effortless. It’s the chorus however that really stands out for me on this track, it’s ridiculuously catchy yet at the same time features slick wordplay: “That’s funny talk / See them in the streets, what they running for / them man don’t really want fucking war / I don’t say shit tho’ ‘cos money talk”. I must admit this song took me by surprise and after a few listens I had the chorus stuck in my head!
I always love discovering new artists and Tash is definitely one i’ll be keeping an eye on!
Earlier this afternoon GRM Daily dropped the new video for Blackpool MC Soph Aspin’s new track “Know My Name”. Aspin is known for her video’s on YouTube Channel BGMedia alongside other artists such as Little T and Afghan Dan. the musical output from Blackpool Grime artists has divided opinion with people either supporting the artists or subjecting them to ridicule. Does this video on a major urban music platform mean that Blackpool artists are now being recognised as “authentic” Grime artists by the scene as a whole? Is this the start of a new chapter for the Grime scene as a whole? Let us know your thoughts on this and the track itself on twitter
Last week Section Boyz dropped their new surprise mixtape “Soundcheck” for free via GRM Daily, adding their name to the growing list of big name UK rap releases this year. 2016 was a massive year for Section their collaborative mixtape “Attack The Block” with Chris Brown and OHB, a MOBO award for best Hip-Hop act all whilst tearing up stages across the country including “that” legendary show wear they shared the stage with Skepta and Drake. Last week Drake dropped his long awaited “More Life” playlist on which he showcased his ongoing love affair with the UK scene so it only seems fitting that a week later Section Boyz remind us all why this scene has captured worldwide attention!
First thing I noticed about this mixtape is the cover art; comic book style, showing each of the Section Boyz with laser-like waveforms in there eyes, the energy in the image immediately jumped out at me. This vibe is reflected throughout the mixtape, which doesn’t hold back on the heavy bangers and features the high-energy adlibs and shouts of “Section!” the group are known for. Second thing that caught my eye was sheer variety of producers that Section spit over, 16 in total, so on my first listen I had no idea what to expect from this. An early personal highlight on this sprawling, 19 track, tape was the Rudekid produced “Army”. Whilst I’m used to normally hearing Section Boyz over dark, minimalist trap or drill beats this string-led Grime track instantly caught my attention. The final track on this mixtape Madness, produced by Benson, also sees Section Boyz spitting fire over a heavy grime beat and has to be my personal favourite. The track certainly lives up to its name and the energy on track is phenomenal; each one of the members of Section Boyz delivers a heavy verse with rapid flows that are ridiculously infectious over the beat that’s constantly erupting with noise.
It’s almost the complete opposite vibe given on “Good Stuff”, which owes its production to Keanubeats, “Came Up” produced by Montage and “Loading”, produced by Mikabeats. These tracks serve as the Section Boyz answer to conscious rap complete with slow piano melodies and deep, reflective vocals. The latter of the two is in my opinion the better, the tone is darker and more serious with an emotive, introspective chorus. The majority of tracks on this mixtape, however, give the dark, gritty trap/drill sound Section Boyz are known for with my personal favourites being opener “Step In” produced By LA Beats (a classic Section Boyz trap-rap banger in the same vein as hit song “Lock Arff”), “Inna”produced by Young Chencs and “Picture” produced by Swizzybeats. I must admit though, there were a few tracks that I found lacking on this mixtape as can only be expected on such a long tracklist. I found “Mee Too” produced by The HeavyTrackerz, OMDs produced by Rudekid and “Fivers and Tenners” produced by Z Dot & Krunchie to be uninspired and perhaps surplus to requirements on this mixtape.
2017 has already been a massive year for the UK rap scene and it’s projects like this that highlight the depth that the scene has; not only showcasing the vocal talents of Section Boyz themselves but the producers in the scene. For Section Boyz themselves this mixtape serves as a tantalising listen for fans and another prime example of why they are one of the leading lights in UK rap and Grime, I seriously cannot wait for Section Boyz to drop a studio album.
Following on from the release and video for single “Stop Talk” MC CapoLee and producer Sir Spyro have finally dropped the full “Stop Talk EP”. With CapoLee known for underground grime hits like “Mud” and “Liff” and Spyro being the current go-to-producer for heavy bangers (Stormzys’ “Big For Your Boots” and P Moneys’ “10/10” both owe their production to him) this was set to be an enticing listen for fans. An EP like this deserves a track-by-track review so here are my thoughts on each of them.
A subtle opening to the EP and as the name suggests it’s the bars that take centre stage here. Delivered entirely in one verse, Capo’s flow is freestyle-esque and he delivers most of the lyrics off-time with the beat, this comes off perfectly. The beat itself is sparse, with minimal drums, a simple guitar riff and choral vocals (the same used in the 10/10 beat) making up most of the instrumental. The lyrical delivery is quick with punchlines being linked together while the beat sits perfectly in the background; allowing Capo to deliver his complex wordplay at his own pace: “I just wanna have fun, I don’t care ’bout the money/Just add the cost/Too many years in the game where I trapped it off/A lot of bars but your facts are off/Tell a man watch your mouth cause I’ll bax it off/Money off shows but they tax it off/Tax it off, it’s a whole new legacy”.
If the opening track was Capo displaying his lyrical ability on the next track “Tekkers” he shows off his impressive flow (once again another track that matches its title). The beat is packed full of heavy reverb, rapid hi-hats, a massive distorted clap/snare and a heavy bass line. In short this is a heavy grime-banger of the sort that Sir Spyro is known for and Capo makes excellent use of the beat here. The MC’s flow is aggressive and high-energy to match the heavy instrumental. Like i’ve already mentioned, this track definitely matches its title with Capo making silky wordplay seem effortless – “Word, fly through the ends but you ain’t been back/You can get burst for an eighteen pack/Survive in a world where they’re hating blacks/Nuttin’ ain’t right, see the blatant cracks/Metaphor in a bar, that’s amazing tracks/Live in a world that’s about who you know/So you ain’t gotta come with amazing tracks/Keeping it real, man are rating Caps”. Both the MC and producer are showing off on this track and the result is devastating.
The eponymous lead single off this EP is my favourite track on the album by far. Starting with the beat, there’s so much going on classic phones keys used for the melody, punchy drums, choral vocals in the background. It’s the the electronic-brass riff used for the chorus that sticks in the mind immediately though; It turns the track from a grime banger to a festival ready anthem, brightening up the entire song. As for the chorus itself, it’s infectious and ridiculously catchy – “Can’t chat to a champ or let alone look in my eyes/Tell a man stop talk/All this talk about money and clothes but a man can’t flow/Tell a man stop talk/How is Capo murking? I do mash work and you don’t/Tell a man stop talk/Tell a man stop talk, come like everyting”. I can just imagine this track being performed on massive stages over the summer with the crowd screaming “Stop Talk” back at the stage.
The instrumental here is packed full of fx noises (you know, the kind you used to mess around with on the keyboards in music lessons) and this makes for an interesting and certainly unique beat. If I’m going to be honest I really wasn’t feeling this track; the constant fx stabs didn’t do it for me and got repetitive really quickly. Vocals wise I didn’t think there was anything particularly special going on here either, personally I found them quite standard compared to the different lyrics and flows used elsewhere on the EP. Overall the quirky beat and the relatively plain vocals made this the only let-down on the EP for me.
Shatter Ft. Faze Miyake
On “Shatter” we get the only feature on the EP and it’s producer Faze Miyake. This track is a mashup of two styles in my opinion with the Faze Miyake influence seen heavily on the grimey beat and a more trap/drill inflected UK rap vocal performance. The beat is pure underground grime, with frequent bleeps, sirens and a sinister dark sub-bassline. The verses are choppy with one liners and adlibs making up the most of the vocals, it’s not particularly inventive lyrically but that’ not the point really on a track like this – “Running through the ends with a pack (fuck feds)/No Ls on the line, make it back (make it back)/Tell a boy don’t play with my money (bap, bap, bap)/Or I’m dancing on your face like I’m Faze (in the shubs)”. If “Stop Talk” is a festival-ready track then this song was built for underground raves.
“Reflection” is a conscious rap song, it has the best lyrics on the EP in my opinion and is my second favourite track on the EP overall. The track is the polar opposite to previous track “Shatter” . The claustrophobic, bass heavy beat on the previous track makes way for airy, expansive, whispering synths on “Reflection” which are joined by sparse drums and little else. The lyrical content of this song is serious, with Capo referencing struggles he’s had in the past and the way in which this has affected him – “Don’t wanna reach, you got too much pride/When there’s no one around but you’re feeling alone/Sometimes, you’ve gotta just say how you feel/To the right person, it’s like more than gold/I’ve had low ones myself/Too much stress ain’t good for your health/Kinda felt like I came back from the dead/Cuh all I saw was red on bare things I read/Now I feel like I came back for the throne/Walk in the game like “honey, I’m home”. It’s an excellent track but does seem slightly out of place here due to its contrast with the rest of the tracks on this project. Overall I love the versatility of both the MC and producer on this EP, it feels like an exhibition of the different types of track both artists can create and what happens when you push creative boundaries. It feels at times like the two artists are competing with each other for the listeners attention, but this works well in my opinion and the resulting music is absolutely sick.
Stormzys’ long awaited album “Gang Signs & Prayer” is out now and available to stream and download (24th February 2017), the album features recent single “Big For Your Boots” alongside freestyle “Shut Up”.
The full tracklist for “Gang Signs & Prayer” is as follows:
1. First Things First
3. Bad Boys (feat. Ghetts and J Hus)
4. Blinded By Your Grace, Pt. 1
5. Big For Your Boots
6. Velvet / Jenny Francis (Interlude)
7. Mr Skeng
8. Cigarettes & Cush (feat. Kehlani)
9. 21 Gun Salute (feat. Wretch 32) (Interlude)
10. Blinded By Your Grace, Pt. 2 (feat. MNEK)
11. Return Of The Rucksack
12. 100 Bags
13. Don’t Cry For Me (feat. Raleigh Ritchie)
14. Crazy Titch (Interlude)
15. Shut Up
16. Lay Me Bare
Lets face it the Brit Awards have never really got Grime music have they? Or at least that’s what we thought until this year! Looking at previous nominations and winners Grime, and UK urban music in general, has been massively overlooked over the years (despite it being arguably the most innovative and culturally relevant music of the moment). Only Dizzee Rascal and Tinie Tempah have been successful (and that’s arguably for their “pop” output). This year looked different though, with Skepta and Kano receiving two nominations each and Stormzy with a single nomination it looked like this could be the first year that Grime was properly recognised by the Brits (without compromising the raw and independent nature of the sound).
Now before we get to the awards themselves there’s another important aspect of the Brit awards to address here, performances, something that was a definite talking point of this years awards ceremony. Firstly Skepta performing his banger “Shutdown”; the song featuring a complaint call in reference to Kanye West’s 2015 Brit’s performance, the last time Skepta graced the Brit awards stage. It was a moment where things came full circle, Skepta returning after a victorious couple of years, a realisation of the movement kicked off on this platform 2 years ago. But while viewers were treated to Skepta’s signature skank, those watching on ITV were surprised to find that the chorus of the song was muted. The lyrics “Ring, Ring pussy, it’s shutdown” were deemed by the powers that be to be too offensive for a post-watershed audience, seriously?! Perhaps this was ITV trying to prevent another slew of complaints from overly-sensitive viewers, perhaps it was supposed to be ironic, who knows?
Now the next performance of note was Ed Sheeran’s. Sheeran has been a long time collaborator with grime artists and following his recent interview with Stormzy for Noisey the singer-songwriter brought out the MC to perform the (previously unknown) official remix to “Shape of You”. This was the highlight of the night for me and the remix due to be released tomorrow (Friday 24th Feb, the same day as Stormzy’s album) is absolutely sick!
Now to the awards themselves, and how many were won by Grime artists? The answer…none! Now there are questions that need to be asked following this result. Is this a victory for Grime music, or is it a sign that the genre is still being overlooked? Are Grime artists being actually recognised by the Brit awards for the talented and culturally relevant artists that they are, or are they just being nominated in a false attempt at being diverse? It’s also worth noting that UK urban music has it’s own dedicated awards ceremonies such as the MOBO’s and GRM daily’s Rated awards, whilst other awards ceremonies like the NME awards and Mercury prize have given awards to UK urban artists. Another point that can be made is that are the Brits actually worth the time of Grime artists? When manufactured-chart-show-friendly-pop artists like Little Mix and One Direction are winning Brit awards it can be argued that theses awards are not exactly promoting the cutting edge of musical talent this country has to offer.
In my opinion I would say that it’s a definite victory to have Grime artists nominated for Brit awards without them having to dilute their sound and resort to making pop songs. The achievements of Skepta, Kano and Stormzy as ambassadors of the genre cannot be underestimated and nothing can be taken away from them no matter the results of the Brit awards. But the biggest question left to ask and one that will be prove telling in the years to come, what do Grime artists have to do to win a Brit Award?
Stormzy took to twitter this morning to reveal that police kicked down his front door having mistakenly thought he was a burglar.
Alongside the image below Stormzy wrote: “Woke up to Feds destroying my front door coz apparently I’m a burglar who burgles his own home. @metpoliceuk need your bank details still”.
The Met Contact Centre has responded to the tweet asking the MC to DM them if he wishes to make a complaint but so far no further comment has been issued.
It’s a strange twist in what has been a good week for the MC following his new single “Big For Your Boots” going to number 8 in the official singles chart and completely selling out his UK tour in only 4 days (see image below).
Stormzy is due to release his new album “Gang Signs & Prayer” on the 24th of February, be sure to check back on UK grime for a full review following it’s release.
I’ve been very excited to hear new music from Devlin, following his epic verse on Wiley’s “Bring Them All / Holy Grime”, where the godfather himself refers to him as “a grime treasure”. He’s now returned with his new album “The Devil In”, his first studio album released since 2013. It’s a deep and personal album, filled with the complex wordplay and imagery Devlin is known for, all set to a series of slick, classy beats. Note; all opinions expressed are those of the author.
To start with, the title of the album “The Devil In”, hints at the introspective feel of this album and the eponymous opening track instantly delivers on this. The title track sees Devlin speaking about his time away from music and the struggles he has had to cope with during this time. Opening line “I’ve been away for a while cause shit weren’t sweet like Tate and Lyle / I held it together with the fakest smile” hints at difficulties in the time preceding his hiatus whilst in lyrics like “Wanna know where I’ve been? Me too / It’s a blur of booze and birds wake up with a hand all bruised / and I ain’t got a clue what occurred” he gives us a taste of what he’s been up to in the interim. The honesty and bluntness of the lyrics is obvious, It feels like Devlin is revealing himself to the listener and isn’t afraid to shy away from difficult or personal topics. This is shown again in the hook “The devil inside of me / The side you just don’t see / I’ve been fighting, who? Me”, setting the album up well, for the next 40 minutes we are getting a peek into the inner depths of Devlin’s mind.
Production on the album comes completely from Term & Ratchet and is perfectly suited to Devlin’s flow. The beats are subtle and never detract from the MC’s spotlight but at the same time avoid sounding repetitive. The natural sounding percussion and use of actual instrumentation as opposed to relying fully on synthetic sounds adds an organic classy edge to this album. Lyrics wise listeners are treated to a showcase of impressive, intellectual wordplay a hallmark of Devlin’s output. On recent single “Blow Your Mind” for example “In Satan’s grove, I’ll conquer the beast / No way will he take my soul / Then gain control of the scene like back in the day / Then let them haters know that my ancient throne ain’t vacant no / No, no way José, who the fuck’s José? / I’ll see him on the road and leave him slain / I’m goin’ on cold, I’m back on the wave / You’ve been told”. I love the way Devlin links the two segments together here with the “No way Jose” line and how he uses the metaphor of the Devil to refer to himself as a king in the grime scene. Throughout the album Devlin is unafraid to talk about his own personal struggles and makes this very relatable to the listener. This is evident on tracks like “Cold Blooded”, “Life” and “Blue Skies” but for me is best shown on the uplifting “Just Wanna Be Me”. Devlin talks about his decision to follow a career in music despite opposition “Mum wanted me to work in the slave shift / But I was writing my lyrics in the grave shift” and encourages the listener to follow their own dreams “We’re all different here in Great Britain / So embrace yourself and envision that your skin never left you imprisoned / Be whatever you wanna be man, kill ’em”. I was absolutely stunned by the subtle-yet-complex wordplay in the last line and it serves as a powerful message to people to do what they want and not to accept limitations.
It is on “Castella Freestyle” however that Devlin truly shows his lyrical abilities. “Painting a page like Damien Rice / When it’s late and I’m high /Tryna bring the painting to life”, “Mic check, if you wanna be in set well stiffen up your Exoskeletons / Insects wanna creep and crawl around me because they heard that I’m Devlin”, “Contest, and I’m making you subject one in my strange experiment / Malevolent, pain indefinite / Dark development, drug nah I’m resident / Periodic when I store every element / You’ll never know what’s in store for your regiment”, “J don’t give an F to the K / I know you see the inside of the president’s / Brains sprayed by the great / Country that we gave birth to that buried them”. In these few lyrics alone Devlin makes reference to art, science, history subjects that most Grime artists would never even think of discussing. ~The references are so subtle that it took me a few listens to fully grasp what he is saying and that makes them all the more impressive, it’s like they’re hiding in plain sight. It’s lyrics like these that show how intelligent an MC Devlin is and distinguishes him from many other current grime artists who do not have this level of scope to their lyrical content.
Now as for features this album has only four, three singers and one other grime MC. I find the singers featured, Maverick Sabre on “Blow Your Mind”, Harry James on “Life” and Tom Prior on Crack Baby fit perfectly. The subtle vocals in the choruses adds a melodic feel to each track and compliments Devlin’s sometimes abrasive flow. In particular “Crack Baby” is excellent in my opinion, Tom Prior’s vocals and the subtle guitar in the background add a bluesy-rock feel to the track without straying to far into the territory of making this a chart-destined pop song. Now i’m going to admit I’m really not a fan of the Skepta collaboration in the context of this album. That’s not to say I don’t like “50 Grand” but it’s inclusion here on this record seems kind of forced and unnecessary. It’s one of four tracks on the album released in 2015/2016 but unlike the others “Corned Beef City”, “Bitches” and “Castella Freestyle” I found that it really sticks out here both in terms of the sound and subject matter.
Overall this album is a clear display of Devlin’s lyrical prowess as well as his ability to create a cohesive album with complex themes. In a time when many artists are afraid to push the boundaries of their lyrical content, or simply just don’t, Devlin has shown here how he is vital to the grime scene and how much his unique sound has been missed.
Last week Stormzy released his new single “Big For Your Boots” ahead of his new album “Gang Signs and Prayer”. The title of the track alone suggests that Stormzy is sending for someone here leaving fans to speculate as to who. It has been suggested that some of the bars on the aggressive new track could be aimed at Manchester’s own Bugzy Malone.
Bars like “Devil on my shoulder, I don’t lack” and “Don’t care who you know from my block/You’re not Al Capone, you’ll get boxed” (amongst others) have been touted as indirect shots at Bugzy Malone, making reference to Bugzy’s recent single “Mad” which features the chorus “Turn into the devil when I get mad” and other lyrics where he compares himself to Al Capone. Now whilst it’s not clear whether or not Stormzy is sending for Bugzy Malone or not, it has been speculated that, following his Twitter activity since the release of “Big For Your Boots” Bugzy definitely believes so and may actually send for Stormzy in his next track, this is all explained in the video below from YouTube channel King MG.
Bugzy has already sent shots at the Brotherhood cast, which includes Stormzy, on his track “Mad” so there’s definitely history between the two MC’s here and the thought of them going head to head is a very exciting prospect for the grime scene and would certainly divide opinion amongst fans!
What do you think? did Stormzy send for Bugzy, or is this just coincidence and speculation? Does Bugzy think that Stormzy has sent for him, will he send back? Who would come out on top if the two MC’s did have beef?
Pharrell Williams has given an interview with Radio 1’s Clara Amfo discussing working with Skepta on the track “Numbers” from Skepta’s “Konnichiwa” album and hints at possible collaborations in the future between the two…