Prancehall’s Bass Odyssey, Part 11

April 03, 2008

When I fell into a career in music journalism, I expected to be showered in limited edition deluxe triple vinyl packs of every piece of good music ever made. Unfortunately, as I have soberingly come to find, this could not be further from the truth. All I get are pathetically poor CD single promos by people like Hadouken!, which annoyingly upbeat and excruciatingly persistent botherers are then paid to pester me about until (they hope) I submit and write something about them. The problem is I am far too proud and stubborn to ever give in, which can lead to a lot of mental anguish, but more commonly just quite a few unanswered emails. What's worse, though, is when they get your mobile number. Then there really is no escape from them. They're like paid stalkers.

So it's nice once in a while when some good stuff arrives in the post. This week, that good stuff was in the form of Rinse's newest mix CD, Rinse 04, mixed by Skepta. To keep you interested before "the jump", wrap your ear lobes around this little clip of Skepta's "Tingles", taken from the aforementioned mix.

Skepta, "Tingles" (excerpt)

Skepta's current mantra in life is "I can MC, produce and mix." It's certainly not very mystical or profound, but it is at least true. The guy who started as a record carrier (which I have decided is grime's equivalent of a weed carrier) in Meridian Crew is now one of the most famous MCs in the country and the self-appointed "king of grime." But that doesn't mean he can't go back to his DJing roots when required.

Rinse 04 starts off worryingly slowly with a pointless two minute intro covered with bad sound effects and sample snippets. It then stumbles into a new Skepta tune called "UFO" that sounds like it was made in five minutes while one of the more inane tracks on Benga's new album was playing in the background. I think "UFO" is the only Skepta tune I have ever heard that I don't like. Luckily, things pick up very quickly. Within the next dozen tracks, Skepta drops future classics like "From Day" by Double S, and Apple's "Mr Bean", as well as the certified genre-defining classic, "Eskimo" by Wiley.

There's also reminders of almost forgotten gems like laid back Balearic minimal garage groover "JME's IQ" from the Tropical CD that Boy Better Know put out a few years ago, and the mesmerisingly amazing "Tingles", which is so good it leaves my ears with a constant smile. I remember a few years ago I had a really lo-fi two minute radio rip of Skepta, Trim and Jammer freestyling on an early version of "Tingles," which I must have listened to about a thousand times within a month.

The rest of the mix plods along pretty contently without any major highlights. There's no heroics with the mixing either, just a lot of DJ Slimzee circa 2003-style lengthy chops. Which isn't surprising since 2003 was probably the last time Skepta DJed before he mixed this.

In other slightly related news, all of the studios in grime are currently shut for equally ridiculous reasons. Roll Deep didn't pay their rent and have been kicked out of their studio in Limehouse; Jammer's broken his mic and his computer, rendering his basement studio useless (for anything apart from smoking weed in), and the guy who runs the studio that JME and Skepta frequent has decided to go on leave because his parents have split up. Oh yeah, and another studio in Mile End used by pretty much everyone else in the scene is also shut. Only in grime, eh?

Finally, I told you two weeks ago that Wiley would not be appearing in the video for "Wearing My Rolex" and above is the reason why. His record company decided to remake the video for "Destination Unknown" in a council estate with some dire dance routines, ridiculous animal costumes and fried chicken. It hit the web on April Fools' Day, so I'm still waiting for someone to tell me it was a cunningly planned joke.

Prancehall’s Bass Odyssey, Part 11