Tuesday, 29 July 2008

'I Called My Album Greatest Hits, 'Cos All Of My Old Music Is Better Than Your Latest Shit'

Some grime albums were decent.

Some grime albums were great.

Some grime albums were...

Well, disappointing if you tap into grimey hearsay. It wasn't a work of art, but I think this CD gets a lot of undeserved flak, which is down to a harsh fanbase and the hype around Greatest Hits to name a couple of things, as well as 2007 being a forgettable year for grime, giving the CD expectations that it was unlikely to attain. However Skepta didn't help himself, with Jay-Z sends that, despite being harmless, don't reflect well given that the man has a discography Skeppy will never have. The Skeptatron also becomes a victim of his own lyric, since there are no autopsies or intensive snares here and it's apparent that, on this evidence, his old music is better than his latest shit, and the inclusion of Duppy proves the point.

However you can't deny that there are some on-point tracks. Shape Shifting has a hard beat and, along with The Journey, some sort of concept that should be praised. In a Corner is arguably the best grime song of 2007, and Blood, Sweat and Tears has good bars from all involved on a tune that enjoyed good radio play.

The problem is that there's no middle ground. Sweet Mother was a fair idea but it's novelty wore off after 5 minutes, the beat to Not Your Average Joe was poor, and Cold Turkey is a skip track.

Still, who was expecting a flawless debut? Kano made an interesting point about those breaking first from the scene, and that there was no blueprint to follow. While the same excuse can't quite be applied here, it's still relatively early days, and Skepta does seem to try and mould himself on what's gone before. He's 'Dizzee Rascal, Kano, Wiley, Lethal, the sequel', and has to 'stand up tall' for his 'home sweet home' and the 'UK people'. Dizzee arguably has the most talent out of those that have gone, but what is more revealing is that 'Boy In Da Corner' was made organically, with no designs at a wider market and consequently giving a raw, uncompromising sound that was tied together with precocious song-writing skills, with no bait sweet-boy tunes that seems a part of every formula when a grime MC has a go at making a pre-designed mixtape or album.

£20 that they'll be one on 'Microphone Champion'.

Monday, 28 July 2008

'Who's That Boy From East London Who Keeps It Grimey Yeah That's Wiley'

Well, he's not a boy any more, though Will tries his best by means of internet communication that's of the highest order.

The latest RWD thread isn't quite of the calibre of this, this, and this, but it does actually reveal something. Wiley's just signed his fourth album deal after he was 'getting held back' at Big Dada, so best of luck to him. He probably needs it, having racked up a few already so hopefully this one can last a bit longer than the others. In stating that he wants to make a ground-breaking album, it can't help when he's moving around all over the place. Also I'm sure he realises a ground-breaking album won't materialise solely from catchy radio tunes primarily marketed at prepubescent girls so I expect a Grime Wave-like direction, though a bit more grime would be nice. And no Messy on it. Actually he should just do something with Flow Dan, the golden-oldies embarking on a retrospective back to back about William making a million and Flow Dan, head out the window of the Transit van, and if someone's unlucky bang bang bang. I would most probably buy it.

Being at the top for as long as he has, as well as his online indifference, will put people off, but perhaps they just don't wanna be cool with Wiley and just wanna make a fool of Wiley but he's not having it that's not Wiley. He's entitled to make some mainstream money. His online shenenigans, allied to accusations that he's selling out, remind me of the hook to his Ice Pole Remix on 'Da 2nd Phaze'. The tune in question was one of the highlights of that album and just shows 'Treddin of Thin Ice' really could have done with vocals for Eskimo, Avalanche and Ice-Rink.

It would be a pisstake to upload the tune, and most probably have it already so you can watch this instead, which includes Wiley in hilarious attire and Flow Dan, Scratchy and Trim bussing clownish skanks. Karnage keeps his dignity intact.

Ice Pole Remix live at Knitting Factory, New York

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Dot Rotten: R.I.P Young Dot Review

So says Young Dot on If I Died. Some may agree, including the recipiants of numerous sends from the grime scene's recalcitrant-in-chief who can't resist to send for every man and his dog. However, it would be a tragedy, because it would mean an end to the music that has marked the man as one of the scene's best, and his latest CD, 'RIP Young Dot', only cements his reputation.

This time around, the death is self-willed. Dot's latest is his first as Rotten, yet the burial isn't a complete success, with the ghost of Y. Dot running amok in the inclusion of Bazooka, the beat that made him a producer to be noted. As Rotten, the bars are appropriately greazier, as well as characteristic in that Dot is unable to refrain from gun-talk at least every other eight-bar. Consequently, this mixtape doesn't include the wealth of self-consciousness that occupied 'This is the Beginning', with the likes of Have To Get Out The Hood and Have To Stay Strong supplanted by My Guys (no homo not included) and War Mission. The flow has improved, and its now steadier nature suits his own productions well, although there are cases of monotonous delivery, including on the opening I’m Not One of Them, which is a shame given the brilliance of the slightly amended ‘Wildlife’ beat, and the synthesised vocals are at times overused, which leads to disinterest on I’m A Leader.

The grittier content is matched by the production, which still has the trademark drums, but is generally sleeker compared to his first mixtape, with the abrasiveness of an I Violate or a Dirty South Salute mostly having gone AWOL. The magic occurs when the right amount of distorted vocals on hooks, big beats, and bars that show Dot at his greasy yet comic best link up, resulting in the CD's fair few bangers.

These MCs Don’t Bother Me sets levels early on, and Rotten and Voltage arguably has the best hook, yet Can’t Test My Crew is the best track, with the simple sample adding hype as does Dot's focus on mic, sticking to tried-and-tested rhyme schemes in one of the few cases where great production is matched by great bars. Simply, Dot remains faithful to the traditional subject-matter, going all-out in representation of what good, current grime music should sound like.

The CD's high-points reach very high, and as a result the mixtape does occassionally become a victim of the precedent it sets. Still, it's easily worth the purchase for those moments, tracks that would rightly feature on any grime 'best-of 2008' compilation.

'R.I.P Young Dot' is available nationwide from 4 August 2008, and is available to order now from Avalanche Music Hut, UK Record Shop, and Uptown Records.