Prancehall’s Bass Odyssey, Part 14

May 01, 2008

I don't mean to underwhelm but the above is the most exciting thing that has happened in grime this week. Yep, Boy Better Know have enlisted the help of 80s children's TV presenter and vicar's son, Timmy Mallett, to promote their all-singing, all-dancing non-phenomenon, the Rolex Sweep. The reason for using former TV favourite Timmy (I would guess) is as a substitute for any actual telly coverage the crew will be getting for the dance. The whole situation is reminiscent of the era when grime DVDs became really popular. The grime scene, frustrated at the lack of TV coverage it thought it deserved, released a load of documentary-style DVDs featuring in-depth interviews with incidental, yet painfully deluded MCs. The DVDs didn't last very long and neither did most of the MCs.

Here is some more Skepta footage courtesy of the YouTube channel of another vicar's son, Tim Westwood. Tim has turned his new Sunday show on 1Xtra into some type of youth centre get together for grime MCs. A few weeks ago Tempa T, Ghetto and Jammer showed up and squabbled for 10 minutes over who invented the term "It's a lot". It was, erm, not "a lot". But still quite entertaining in the same way a head-on high-speed car crash is.

I haven't mentioned too much about bassline recently and that's because there's not much to say about it. The scene continues to bang out lots of pretty average mix CDs with the odd new song shining through. One guy who seems to be making lots of imaginative tunes is a Birmingham MC / producer called Screama. If anyone out there still buys vinyl, you should get his new 12"—the imaginatively titled "Screama EP".

T2, "Butterflies"

This is potentially T2's new single. I say potentially because I find it hard to believe that his label will go ahead and let him release something with such little character. It seems after months and months of people pumping out watered-down, generic and less catchy versions of "Heartbroken" in the desperate hope of emulating the song's success, T2 himself has decided to do the same with his follow up single.

Last month, on the strength of the above clip (taken from his show on Deja Vu FM), I booked Marcus Nasty to play at my club night. After the stories I had heard about him in the past I was expecting him to be rude, if not slightly aggressive. But he was actually really polite and professional (characteristics which don't exist in grime). Also, he didn't need to be coaxed to the club with half an hour of phone directions on the night, and he even showed up well before he was due to play. MCs take note.

His set was probably the best and most refreshing I have seen in the last few years. He solely played stuff that sounded like 4x4 dancehall with elements of garage, grime and some more tropical rhythms thrown in. I've heard similar stuff before but this was darker and more minimal, and contained stuff like Buju Banton samples. In the past, some DJs and producers have called this new 4x4 stuff from the UK "funky", but when asked to describe the type of music he was playing he just said it was UK house.

What was just as amazing on the night was watching everyone in the club looking around at each other with puzzled expressions trying to figure out what this new stuff was that they were hearing. In some ways, it felt like being there the first time someone dropped "Your Love" at Muzik Box. But about ten times less significant with ten times less people and in a run down club in Dalston, not in Chicago. Still, it was as life changing as a Thursday night on Kingsland Road gets.

Prancehall’s Bass Odyssey, Part 14