Sunday, 15 February 2009

Can't Test My Crew Nah They're Dreaming

The Newham Generals are being pampered by the big, papery arms of the Observer Music Monthly. Dressing up as doctors and being labelled as Dizzee's 'proteges' are small-fry, with the further coverage adding to one of the best grime album promotions to date.

Slick videos and Bell Dem viral controversy have complimented natural, increasing anticipation for an album that has been years in the waiting. The latest party trick is not a mere podcast, but a Dirtee Stank 'Cast'; Semtex is graciously given a chance to exorcise his South London howler from a while back, and crooner Chrome is wedged on at the end so that he doesn't ruin things too much.

But the Generals have always been on radio, in addition to touring all over the country and beyond. But with their new album comes fresh direction and purpose. Looking at the last six months, perhaps the same invigoration can be seen in the grime crew generally.

Little Nasty and Griminal are the young, dynamic core hauling up the weighty name of NASTY, supported by the highly unlikely return of Sharkey Major. Nasty Jack had one of the best releases in 'Shotta Music' last year and, with Stormin, he's keeping up appearances on Urban FM TV.

Slew Dem's Shorty Smalls seems more on music now than I can remember for a while, and Tempz continues to ride his own hype-machine in the run-up to his anticipated '2000 & Paaax'. Spooky is continually adding to his mixes archive, and his recent Oneaway Music set with G-Man heralds the MC's forthcoming debut mixtape, 'Hard Hustlin'.

Cold Blooded had a nice little reunion last month, and there's talk of The Movement coming back together again. To top off the teetering cake, the OT Crew turned up to Rinse last night with Dogzilla mentioning 'goosebumps' on his return to the station. The crew's CD 'Left To Rot' is planned for release on 27 March.

Why now? I'm not really sure, but it does go hand-in-hand with the general rise of radio within the last few months. Grime's traditional outlet has been bolstered by the novelty of Westwood's 1Xtra Rap Show wearing increasingly thin, and the refurbishment of its YouTube channel has undermined one of the show's main initial strengths.

Also, this is all happening at the expense of Boy Better Know, who for the last few years have formed the centre-point of grime's weekly radio schedule, and occupied the position of its most recognised crew. With Skepta and Wiley not so focused on the underground at the moment and other crews showing new intent, maybe the scene's structure is changing and becoming just a little bit more open.

Maybe nothing is changing; this could just be a big flash in the pan, a happy coincidence that all of these crews are making big, simultaneous noise. Either way, I'm not complaining.

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