The idea of the two going against each other is interesting, and one that surely intends to raise levels. I remember Skepta on JME's 1Xtra producer Takeover Show saying that when he hears a good beat it makes him want to fight against it. Maniac was also on that show, and it was the first showcase of his beats Star In The Making Remix and Warzone. Both feature on this mixtape.
Competition is also reflected in the structure of the CD, with six vocals comprising the first section, six instrumentals the second, and two bonus tracks which I'll generously call a bonus section. It may sound simple, but in the context of the grime mixtape such a format is innovative, and further adds to the dimensions of the grime CD, which in itself has vastly changed in a relatively short space of time into a slick and more widely marketable product.
Nevertheless, Stryder Vs Maniac is firmly rooted in the underground, and the hype beats don't allow scope for 'sweetboy' tunes which Tinchy can actually make respectably, and intense spitting is required to keep up with the beats. Tinchy generally doesn't fall behind but No Cape, featuring Fuda Guy, has a bad hook and isn't as good as previous collaborations such as 16 Writers. Fly Away is well-produced, but the vocal slips at points leading to disinterest.
Excuses are given on the Warm Up but Stryder is in decent voice, which flows into the second track Wait Till The Moon Comes Out. The chorus, like most in grime of late, doesn't escape the autotune but it doesn't sound too forced. The hook and its content of the black cape, evoking super-hero connotations under the romantic image of the moon coming out, is soon dashed with references to the black star nine. Maybe I read too much into these things. Regardless Big Seac pops out of nowhere for a rare cameo appearance which almost made me fall off my chair.
Familiarity is gained again in the banger Rollin', the highlight of the vocals that still has integrity after being battered by Logan Sama and every other DJ on the underground. The Bow theme here continues, with Delusion booming over the original track and carrying momentum which perfectly complements the production, and Roachee features on the bonus remix. God's Gift makes it three's a crowd for features on the bonus E3 Shank Shank.
Some things have been said about the quality of the instrumentals, but in truth it says more about the producer, who consistently makes great grime tracks. The beats here are decent at worst, and finally having Star In Da Making Remix and What Da Rass is surely enough for any fan. Warzone and Mandem are also good beats.
Despite the different sections, the mixtape does have a unity of sound, resulting in a good final product that is comfortably one of the better releases this year. More importantly, the producer is rightly thrown back into the spotlight, a trend that is hopefully developed for the benefit of the scene.