In the UK grime scene, the spotlight is usually on the MCs. Instrumentals remained for a long time a niche interest, a subject for the most interested fans. We think this should change. With grime exploding in popularity, Tara Joshi asks, who are the producers shaping the sound now?
Tuesday, September 24, 2019 - 3:06 pm
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Who are the producers shaping the sounds of rap and grime in the UK right now? 2019 seems like a good time to consider this. Grime started out as a combination of other early 2000s black music scenes in Britain and has since seeped into and catalyzed a host of other contemporary sounds. What we're seeing now in the UK, with rap, garage revival, drill and Afroswing, is arguably thanks to the success of grime, and that means that there are people producing some, if not all, of these sounds. .
Rising production company Conducta, best known forhis UKG groove on AJ Tracey's 'Ladbroke Grove', told Complex thatstarted doing grime and dubstep. Even though his current sound is garage-focused, he certainly still draws inspiration from those genres. Producers like Preditahclimbed through your dirt beatsafter gaining the Boy Better Know co-sign, but his palette has lately shifted towards more expansive sounds,gas pipeline garageysame UK funky.
Grime has crossed the line and to some extent has been commodified. like it or notone of the world's biggest pop stars released a "grime" song featuring Stormzy, Aitch and Jaykae this year, featuring a Sir Spyro remix. Kano may have released one of the grime albums of the year, 'Hoodies All Summer', but the album's producers, Blue May and Jodi Milliner, come from pop backgrounds rather than DIY grime roots.
It is worth noting that grime has boosted other black British sounds globally. Japan and Australia have homegrown grime scenes. There is a growing American audience for UK rap, which has led some UK beatmakers to work with US artists: EY, producer of Stormzy and Krept and Konan, has had success working with Meek Mill, Swae Lee and Duck.
All of which is to say that what it means to be a 'cleaner' in the UK in 2019 is becoming porous, difficult to pin down. It's good to celebrate those who make grime (and grime-related) beats, as well as household names like Sir Spyro, Prince Rapid, Footsie and Teddy Music, and even younger artists like Faze Miyake and Flava D. Many of the names on this list operate in spheres beyond grime, but that's pretty much the point: a grime producer in 2019 is almost certainly a wider rap producer too, and probably capable of being a pop producer as well. .
Calling Tyrell 169 just a goo producer doesn't exactly work. He produced fast, poppy grooves for Craig David, Mabel and Ramz, and energetic grooves for MCs like Headie One. However, the importance of its grime roots cannot be understated: its reworking of Ruff Sqwad's instrumental 'Pied Piper' into Streatham rapper Dave's 'Thiago Silva' is a respectful homage to the original.
After his first Dave production, 2016's 'JKYL+HYD', he made beats for Dave's EPs andVencedor do Mercury Music Prizedebut album, 'PSYCHODRAMA', and scored a UK number one single with Dave's collaboration with Fredo, 'Funky Friday'. Like Dave, Tyrell 169 probably ranks higher in UK rap. Most recently, the young producer is on the new Top Boy soundtrack, making beats for Dave, AJ Tracey, SL and Youngs Teflon. The Tyrell 169's talent for massive paces and in-game versatility is sure to keep him in the spotlight.
He's been on the scene since he was a teenager and is best known as an MC (you might remember 2009's 'East London Is Back'), but Maxsta from Lewisham is now someone you should know as a beatmaker too.After taking a production course a few years ago (and of course studying YouTube tutorials), the 2018 self-produced 'Maxtape 2' was a triumphant comeback moment. Whether he'll start producing for other MCs remains to be seen, this year he released 'On The Buttons', a high-energy instrumental EP, which might suggest that production work is something he's thinking about.
Hastings isn't the first place you'd expect a grime producer to come from, but Drone manages to dispel any doubts, albeit after spending three years on a music production course in Bristol. Through his London label Coyote Records, he releases dark, chill beats that fluctuate between shimmering sinogrime and hard-hitting dubstep. Drone seems to be on a deep and engaging instrumental wave right now, but hisKeep Hush was established last year with EMZmakes it clear that his beats are also MC-friendly.
Their biggest song to date, 'Jack Skellington', is a collaboration with American pop rapper G-Eazy, but South London brothers Tee and Rocket grew up listening to UK rap and grime. They've been on the scene for nearly a decade as rappers, and as producers they've worked with grime greats like Chip and Ghetts, Afrobeats creator Sneakbo, mainstays of Drill 67 and up-and-coming MCs like Fekky and Flohio (the cold, wind - The bell beat they made for Flohio's 'WAY 2' is worth it, be sure to look them up.
Chances are high that you are already familiar with Kwes Darko. He used to go by the name Blue Daisy, creating dark and atmospheric electronic music, but these days he goes by his own name, and you'll probably know him through his slowthai work. He's a fan of slowthai's live shows - the DJ, MC and producer who reflects the rapper's boundless energy.
Kwes channels the dark vibe of his earlier work into his current sounds and amplifies that turbulent energy. His catalog is diverse: he's worked with rapper Sampa The Great, among others, but in his work for slowthai, he's even collaborated with pop songwriter and producer Mura Masa to create the fast-paced, quasi-punk 'Doorman'. Kwes is not a pure grime producer, but he certainly channels his ferocious energy.
Another slowthai contributor, JD. Reid is one of those DJs and producers who work in multiple genres. Again, he is perhaps more related to grime than pure grime, as he produced melodic grooves for pop star Mabel and jazz purveyor Henry Wu. But J. D. Reid worked with Skepta (instrong slowthai track, 'Inglorious'), D Double E and Ghetts, and released music through Plastician's Terrorhythm label, giving him credibility in grime. You'd imagine that, like Mura Masa, he'll keep his ways clear, moving in and out of a myriad of genres and contributing his knowledge of each to moving grime forward.
Ragz Originale often works with Oscar #Worldpeace, Chip and most of all Skepta; its beats are featured on "Ignorance is Bliss" and "Konnichiwa", including the unforgettable beat from the 2015 hit single "Shutdown". Ragz was briefly signed to Warp, before returning to releasing music through his own collective Mini Kingz. Last year, the Tottenham producer stood out: his debut album, 'Nature', was released in 2018 and features songs written with Kwes, from Solange's collaborator Invisible. At the time of the album's release, Ragz Originale told Trench magazine thatI was listening to Tame Impala and old school grime- you can hear that softer, psychedelic edge to his melodies, as he sings and raps. There's a new energy to these beats, a sense of theatrics, suggesting their best work is yet to come.
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