Saturday, 25 April 2009

R.I.P Esco

"Alright London, alright alright, you get me. It's Rinse 100.3 in the day-time, Christmas Day. Like I care, you get me. Like I even care what day it is."

Wiley on the day itself in 2004. Needless to say he wasn't in a great mood, with personal pot-shots already dispatched at Lethal B, Bashy and Jammer. But, just fifteen minutes later, it was seemingly easy enough for him to say this:

"Oi Es, it's Wiley - I need to hear you more Es - on the level. Don't sit back, don't sit back. I wanna hear you Esco."

We did hear more from Esco, but not as much as grime would have liked. I can't remember an MC having released so little yet commanding so much respect, and it's clear that he had abundant talent that was never fully recognised.

The story has gained wider coverage in the media, since Esco was the half-brother of Tottenham Hotspur and England striker Jermain Defoe. Still, this notable relation can't detract from Esco being an individual and having made his own mark, especially in the grime scene in which he was so highly-respected.

Esco (Jade Defoe) died last night from severe head injuries after being attacked in Leytonstone. May he rest in peace.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Jendor - Grandmaster Review

I'm a massive Jendor fan, but I didn't know what to expect with this CD. I was pleasantly surprised.

The strong start partly provides the answer. Crayzee Banditt produces the majority of the opening songs and his almost epic, wide and expansive sound allows more than enough room for Jen to shine. Pose On Da Phone proves the point and, with strong follow-ups Architect and Get That Dough, the momentum is imposed from the start.

The Rude Kid-produced Sunshine marks a change. The content is street, but the almost uplifting beat conjures a mood that reaches its apex in the corny but infectious You're A Star. Diamonds is the now near-obligatory electro effort and, even without the amusing opening ('call her, call her... oi, man's tryna talk to you, come 'ere man'), Banditt's beat is full and rich. Such beats offset both of Insomniax's dull and forgettable productions on Desert Storm and None Of Their Guys and, with the latter being a freestyle comprising all of Jendor's biggest bars that's crying out for a hype grime or dubstep beat.

Along with Pose On Da Phone, Damn and Scarface are highlights along with Cricket Bat. Despite being well-played on radio over a year ago, it's been slept-on with time and, here, Skepta's beat is refreshing in relation to some of the more hip-hop influenced beats.

Jendor simply shines on the mic throughout and, even though more out-and-out grime beats would have been nice, he has the temperament to lace hip hop well. For a South London MC, perhaps it would be naive not to expect it. Nevertheless, this is a fair effort. In grime terms, if Jen isn't a grandmaster then he can't be far off.

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Newham Generals - Generally Speaking Review

'It apparently took three years to make, but much of this debut album from Dizzee Rascal's proteges sounds as though it's been tossed off in the last three minutes.'

Everyone is entitled to their opinions, but the egalitarian might of that maxim is mightily challenged by the Guardian's Paul MacInnes. I'm just happy that the album is finally here and, even after the heavy delay and an inevitable anti-climax, 'Generally Speaking' is still a very good release.

Just Movin' is the perfect start. The beat is brilliantly bold, with an opening that tingles your ears before the big biss drop. Chrome's vocals provide a loose hook, but it doesn't deter from the energy of Footsie and DEE, and the quick pace of them going back to back on the mic that makes for an uncompromising start.

The composition of the album is one of it's great strengths. Head Get Mangled picks up the baton and races away further still, with the speed complemented by DEE's hazy delivery. A slower Footsie solo, Dat's Normal, is next, which is followed by DEE's Supadupe. The way the two are juggled throughout is masterful and, as a result, both the individual qualities of the MCs as well as their clout as a collective are emphasised. Features from G-Man and Dizzee on Violence, after a united and revolving DEE and Footsie at the start, rounds everything off.

Even with the newer dancey tracks, which includes one of the highlights in Mind Is A Gun, Monkstarr gives a glimse of the Generals's past with a fitting inclusion on the album. With a wealth of older material to choose from, Things I Do slots in well, and Chrome's wistful vocals contrast to the in-your-face Bell Dem Slags. Dat's Normal had great nostalgic value, and suits the album better than the more recent solo It's Foots.

While there are high-points, Douchebag and Heard You Been Smoking don't have any star-quality, but again the way the album has been put together doesn't allow them to compromise the general tone and flow. Both songs are very short and the album, even with the bonus tracks, does seem to be over too quickly.

Some more tracks would have been nice, but this is far from a 'tossed off' CD. Generally Speaking is one of the best grime releases ever.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Boy Better Know - Too Many Man

Before you look at grime's finest in half-hearted face paint, joyfully jigging in a dark and dingy room with a pronouced absence of ladies, one thing. If you take a couple of minutes from your week to look at this blog (I love you all), then I apologise for the stand-still. Work. That's all I'm saying.

Anyway, the video. Fanfare please.

Boy Better Know - Too Many Man

I'm sure this only came out because of Microphone Champion Volume 1, and Skepta's 'too many man' lyric enjoying ridiculous reloads and a fair forum reception. I could never see the hype of the lyric (no, I'm not a homo) but, as an initial sceptic, I'm pleased to say that I actually like the tune itself. Probably thanks to hefty radio play from Scratcha, Logan and Silencer. And nearly everyone else, in fact.

I think the track actually has merit. They've taken a massive funky influence, but retained conspicuous grime characteristics. It's not funky, or house; the production is recognisably a Skepta beat, and the content throws grime and funky into sharp contrast, especially in terms of their rave scenes; there's 'no sharp shoes', 'just Nike Airs in here'. Also, the barring inverts orthodox, mellifluous female funky vocals and their narratives about the morning, of love being the only drug and pleas to just tell her 'what it is' amongst others.

I really like funky. I listen to it more than grime right now but I've dragged myself away from those drums to have a listen to OT Crew's 'Left 2 Rot', Jendor's 'Grandmaster' and Newham Generals's 'Generally Speaking'. Expect reviews next week.

Stay classy San Diego.