Prancehall’s Bass Odyssey

January 24, 2008

Today we introduce a new column on grime, bassline and grime-and-bassline-related other shit by London's very own Prancehall because we never stop believing. This week Bass Odyssey catches us up on the latest frenzy over UK bassline and one of its grime crossovers, Dexplicit, whose "Might Be" you can listen to below. Make the jump for more Prancehall.

Dexplicit f. Gemma Fox, "Might Be"

It's taken a long time for the UK record industry to care again about UK urban music. Since Dizzee and Kano were signed it's as if there's been an enormous stigma attached to the idea of giving a grime act a go on an established label. In fact, there's not so much been just a stigma, more total and utter disbelief that any label would be stupid enough to waste their time and money on any type of urban act. Maybe this feeling wasn't so unjustified, though. Grime fans were pretty reliable when it came to listening to the radio, watching clips of MCs on Youtube (this clip of teenage MCs Chipmunk and Ice Kid on Tim Westwood's Radio 1 show has had almost 400,000 views) and downloading mixtapes, but they never really got the hang of going out and buying music. It looked like UK urban music was commercially dead. But the unexpected chart success of bassline producer T2's "Heartbroken" and the subsequent interest in the rest of this Northern scene looks to have turned things around.

Right now the majors are like flies to a box of Special Fried Chicken, falling over themselves to sign anything with a snaking bassline and a female vocal – no matter how out of tune. Delinquent's "My Destiny" was one of the first bassline tunes to be signed and this week it's been playlisted on Radio 1, pretty much guaranteeing it a chart hit. Labels don't even seem scared to pick up full MC tracks - DJ Q & MC Bonez's bassline anthem "You Wot" has reportedly been snapped up too.

It seems like anything and everything associated with bassline is attracting the majors. Benga and Coki's pretty uncommercial instrumental dubstep tune "Night" (I've described it before as sounding like a pigeon being gently prodded with a nail) was massive at bassline raves and now it's getting regular rotation on national daytime radio and there are rumours of a vocal version being released. Also, DJ NG's "Tell Me" (more on this in a future edition), a pretty dark funky house tune, has been signed after being pitched up to +8 and played by bassline DJs.

It seems only fitting and fair that Dexplicit, the producer behind grime's biggest hit, "Pow", and convert to the bassline scene, is also getting some label attention. When I spoke to him earlier this week he told me his tune with Gemma Fox "Might Be" was "on the verge of being signed." The fact that Gemma Fox can actually sing must automatically mean the song will outdo "Heartbroken".

The full advent of bassline to towns and cities below such unsightly Northern carbuncles as, say Grimsby is yet to happen so it's pretty rare to hear too much new bassline stuff in clubs in London. Luckily, thanks to the Trouble & Bass crew, if you live in New York you can go and check out Dexplicit playing this Friday and see if all the hype is justified.

Posted: January 24, 2008
Prancehall’s Bass Odyssey