A monthly round-up of the best Grime & Dubstep out each and every month — here are February 2022’s picks.
Album of the Month: ONHELL – ‘Grime Beats, Vol.II’ (Deep, Dark & Dangerous)
Warn the neighbours
2. Learn Spanish
3. Tepido Mercato
The second in ONHELL’s series of transatlantic grime excursions is as utterly monstrous as the first, again compiled for New Zealand’s always-on-point Deep, Dark & Dangerous label. Across 10 tracks, he deploys some of the heaviest bass sounds you’ll hear all year, reimagining grime from not only a stateside vantage point, but moreover in his own deeply idiosyncratic way. Demonic opener ‘Holy Death’ sets out ONHELL’s stall early, its contorted, lung-busting stabs sure to bring out screw faces early on, while the scything ‘Learn Spanish’ and the tear-out, chainsaw aesthetic of ‘The Rake It Up Riddim’ are all-out explosive. Dizzying, off-kilter cut ‘Tepido Mercato’ is another full-blooded standout, but our tip is final track, ‘Devotion’ – a rare moment of icy, ethereal calm, albeit still front-loaded with a truck load of bass weight. 8/10
Tune of the Month: FFSYTHO – ‘Yeah Yeah’ (Bandcamp)
Destined for the top
FFSYTHO has been making waves for a minute and on new single, ‘Yeah Yeah’, she more than lives up to the hype. Her confident brand of no-nonsense barring has already piqued the ear’s of some big names – The Bug drafted her in on ‘How bout dat’, a track lifted from his acclaimed 2021 LP, ‘Fire’, for example – and there is a sense she’s on the cusp of making major moves. Produced by Glitch, ‘Yeah Yeah’ taps the sort of winding, lo-slung pressure that Swamp81 have long made a calling card, but FFSYTHO attacks it, barely pausing for breath in between verses as she switches in-and-out of the track’s hook effortlessly. A big future beckons. 8/10
Duppy – ‘Now You See Me’ EP (Bandcamp)
Duppy may only be a handful of releases deep, but he already feels like a generational talent. His energy is raw and his appetite insatiable, but – like Novelist before him – he possesses that sort of un-fuck-with-able swagger and self-belief that makes him feel built to endure. On ‘Now You See Me’, a seven-track EP written and produced entirely by Duppy himself, he excels as both a battle-ready MC and talented song-maker. Opener ‘Any MC’ is breathless and full to the brim with say-it-with-your-chest braggadocio – ‘Is there any MC better than me?’ he asks on the hook – while playful, head-nodding anthem ‘Wooshu’ (a reference to his signature vocal adlib) is undeniable. There’s room for features too, with Mez blessing ‘Dim Sum’ and Cadell dropping incendiary bars on the venomous ‘OT Spot’, but as a complete project, this is some statement. 9/10
Commodo – ‘Deft 1s’ (Black Acre)
What else is there left to say?
Commodo’s genius knows no bounds. His latest EP, ‘Deft 1s’ – another spellbinding record for Black Acre – might mine grunge-y ‘80s/’90s punk and throwback, golden-era rap beats for inspiration, but still packs hefty club weight and plenty of forward motion. His ability to isolate individual sounds and tweaks mirrors Michelin star chefs – every ingredient is on the plate for a reason – and even when the going gets ultra-experimental on ‘Forester’, which could easily slot into a Joy Division setlist, or the foreboding, Nirvana-esque breakdowns of ‘Living Bones’, everything feels exactly as it should. Sometimes, all you can do is take your hat off. 9/10
Gemmy – ‘Irreversible Culture’ EP (Infernal Sounds)
A long overdue link-up
OG Bristol legend Gemmy dazzles on ‘Irreversible Culture’ – a booming three-track EP for one of dubstep’s most vital, forward-thinking labels of the last five years. The meeting of minds feels more than justified too, with the triumphant march of the title-track curtailing Gemmy’s purple-y inclinations in favour of the sort of visceral, cut-throat bass weight that’ll bother even the most stubborn of club systems. Second track ‘Destination’ is more layered and synth-rich – the bloopy, helter-skelter FX and sharp, rolling percussion make it feel wholly more musical too – before the moody, super low-end swing and grimy stabs of RSD’s ‘Irreversible Culture’ Remix sign off. 8/10
Ago & Boofy – ‘Goldfinger / Silverware’ (Innamind Recordings)
Boofy is back on Innamind – and this time he’s got Numa Crew’s Ago in tow. A-side ‘Goldfinger’ sees the pair collide on a track anchored in minimalist flavour and maximum bass weight, with gloopy, dripping taps and jangly woodblock pangs keeping things tense, while on the flip, ‘Silverware’ ups the ante. The swinging 4×4 rhythm is unexpected but a total doozy, while the sampling notes and subtle use of texture is both deft and smart – see the echo-y, melodic chimes and delicate, archive crackle as cases in point. Excellent. 9/10
Mayday – ‘Complete The Mission (Deluxe)’ [Self-Released]
One to watch
Laser-focused MC Mayday pulls no punches on the Deluxe version of ‘Complete The Mission’ – an 11-track re-pack, featuring two new songs, of his 2021 tape of the same name. Lacing beats from across the full UKG spectrum – including poolside summer anthem ‘Sun’ – and boasting features from Birmingham grime royalty in Sox and Mayhem NOBD, ‘Complete The Mission’ formed an already-comprehensive jump-off point for an artist clearly determined to put in the hard yards. New tracks ‘Shift’ and ‘Celebrate’ – the latter a sludgy, UK rap boomer – only add to that picture, further earmarking Mayday as a name to keep tabs on. 7/10
Fallow – ‘Pent Up’ (Bandcamp)
Who needs a 9-5?
Manchester favourite, Fallow, lets loose over nine tracks of boisterous club music on ‘Pent Up’ – a project written to capture the spirit of a night out; ‘be your full self when you bang these’ the Bandcamp release notes read. Opener ‘Citrus’, a sickly-sweet collaboration with Grizzle, feels like a soft-launch for what’s to come; scorching, upfront grime with Griz-O (‘Run Red’), frenzied dancehall burners (‘Pent Up’), zippy, square-wave dance offs (‘Not Tonight Akon Lad’) and big, car-screeching Red Stripe anthems (‘On A Mad One’). A total riot from start to finish – get stuck in. 8/10
Sir Hiss – ‘Outlaw’ (No More Mailouts)
Next in line
More gunslinging magic from Sir Hiss, who continues to defy the odds and up the stakes with every release. ‘Outlaw’, complete with Wild West-themed artwork and track names, may seem tongue-in-cheek – but the contents are deadly serious. The title-track is a snarling, cinematic picture of arid desert landscapes and swinging saloon bar doors, while ‘Bandits’ – a collaboration with fellow Bristol wizard, Lemzly Dale – lands its own shuffling blows, with choppy, cut-and-paste string samples and muffled, filmic textures. Marauding final track ‘High Noon’ continues the theme apace – albeit with harder, more immediate pressure – to bookend another excellent Sir Hiss record. The best out at the moment? Probably. 9/10
Boylan & Youngsta – ‘Psychedelics’ (Sentry Records)
Big, high-grade ammo from Boylan and Youngsta – two hellfire producers in the rudest of health here. ‘Psychedelics’, released as a standalone single via Youngsta’s Sentry Records imprint, is bruising from the off, lurching forward like a ghostly procession of thunderous drums, hammer-blow woodblock percussion and ghostly tension. 7/10
Top 3 Selected
— Shining a light on some of the month’s best DJ Mixes —
Sicaria Sound — Truancy Volume 288
Despite often being heralded as figureheads for the next generation of 140 club music in the UK, Sicaria Sound have always gone about their business quietly and efficiently. For the most part, their output does all the talking — whether it be their own productions, first crystallised on their 2021 debut EP, ‘Binate’, their rugged club sets or via their open-source cutcross label; itself a melting pot for myriad strands of 140 club music — and their Truancy Volume mix is no different. Clocking in at just over an hour, the pair cycle through stark, skeletal dubstep pressure, woozy, syrupy rollers, hi-grade drum workouts and near beat-less, synth-y magic in a mix that demonstrates just how unique and influential their vision remains.
Flava D — RA Podcast #818
It may have felt like a long time coming, but Flava D’s hour-long odyssey through the sonics that define her — from grime to UKG, bassline and more recently, drum & bass — makes for a welcome addition to Resident Advisor’s benchmark series. Joining the dots between the different touch points of her career, it’s a mix defined as much by its freedom as it is pure danceability; Flava D sets have always been a ride, but none have felt this fast, furious and fun, with so much crammed into just 60 minutes run-time.
Nammy Wams’ Valentine’s Grime Special on Croydon FM — February 15th 2022
Nammy Wams has been grafting away on Croydon FM for the last four years, quietly assembling a dedicated listenership and carving out a space for himself to incubate his own grime-flavoured take on drill — a sound now at the heart of Bok Bok’s AP Life label. Parking the harsher sounds for a Valentine’s Grime special, he empties the vaults to showcase some true classics; from timeless anthems like Tinie Tempah’s ‘Wifey Riddim’ and Kano’s ‘Boys Love Girls’ right the way through to rarer cuts by everyone from Ironsoul to Davinche via Nu Brand Flexxx, Bombsquad and Terror Danjah. A gem of a show.
In March, look out for a scorching new Drone plate on Sector 7 — his first for the label since 2019 — following a stellar run of hot ’n heavy records for both Alix Perez’s 1985 Music stable and V.I.V.E.K’s SYSTEM imprint … ‘Polar Opposite’ releases on March 25 … There were also a load of records worthy of mention in February, too … Main Phase & Rakjay’s sub-low UKG wobbler ‘Smoke’ via Sub Merchants is 24-carat club gold … and be sure to check Jake Plisken & Tintz’s ‘MIND UR BUSINESS’ — a fierce, tour de force collaboration meshing OG grime sensibilities with grizzly, blunt-force percussion … There were also killer EPs from French producer Qant on Vienna’s Sub Audio Records (‘Avalanche’ EP) — think deepest, darkest fare rooted in pure, unbridled bass weight — and firecracker grime MC, Mez, who collated four of his most sought after beats for ‘Instrumentals 001’, which includes cuts lifted from both his ‘Once Uncle’ EP and P Money’s ‘While We Wait’ … Jack Dat was also busy on the release front too, locking horns with Boss Mischief on ‘Boss Dat’ — a four-track collection of bruising prime cuts — while Sir Spyro also lined up new single, ‘Wish’; a track released to pay tribute to legendary grime MC, Stormin’ … Featuring Black Steve, Killa P and Flow Dan, as well as unreleased vocals written under Stormin’s Teddy Bruckshot alias and samples lifted from the infamous ‘Topper Top’, it lands as a fitting memoriam for one of grime’s most cherished personalities.