Review: South London's Merky Ace swarms down on us with five forebodingly grimey tracks taken from his two-pronged mixtape, "No Hats No Hoods". With gigs ranging from the UK to Europe, his blend of contemporary urban beats and lyrics is just bang on the money. From "Play Your Position" to "Strawberry Rain", Merky Ace dishes out the goods and kicks off the hype, bang-wise...
Review: "Deepest Darkest": The title says it all. Just in case you're not up to speed, Slew Dem's Chronik truly is one of grime's darkest lyricists. And you get the impression he could back up every one of his stern messages in a flash. With a flow that calls out all fakers and slim-chatters he incorporates a daring sense of fun in his warnings with all manner of pop cultural references. Naturally the beats are equally subversive and moody; with a smidgeon of US flavour to the trappist riddim, there's a real trippy texture to the dynamics that matches Chronik's verbal heaviness.
Review: Key member of the No Hats No Hoods fam, Merky unleashes his third album. And from the sleazy, slinky bass-caked intro you instantly know it's his best yet. Home to a wide range of angular licks, across the album we hear him preaching over ugly, dungeon slimestep "Wack" we get teased with trapish charms "Eff Tizzy" and get ruffhoused into 808 submission on the finale "Know What It Is". Showcasing his versatile (not to mention angry) style in the broadest possible fashion, Merky's living up to his name in every way here.
Review: It's been an immense year for No Hats No Hoods, and they're ending on a high. Hot on the heels of the excellent Ruff Sqwad white label collection comes this firing double A from the 'lyrical father' G Man. "The Truth" sees him calling out the fakers and fame seekers as he explains how his rhymes comes from deep inside. "Lengman Jedi", meanwhile, is a heavy hitman homage laced with some of the most barbed bass licks he's ever graced. G Man is the real deal, and that's "The Truth".
Review: Bang... Spooky's "Playground" gets a turbo-charged level-up thanks to East London's finest mic-mashers Slew Dem. Oozing away with its distinctive sleazy, slo-mo bass riff, it's the perfect bed for the hefty ex-Rinse team. With the beats complementing every one of their myriad lyrical styles, this is your quintessential grime banger that rolls with sophistication but bites with raw aggression.
Review: What a coup for No Hats No Hoods! Back in the day many grime heads would have given their privates for some of these dubs. Formative grime instrumentals, these were all written ready and waiting for Tinchy Stryder, Dirty Danger and Slix's tight-fisted bars. Here we find them in all their naked glory, and they still sound slick to this day. Cuts like the woozy Japanese shuffled funk "Functions On The Low", the west coast LA meets Croydon vibes of "Lethal Injection" and the savage cage rattling of "Tings In Boots" tell one of the most honest grime narratives you'll find right now.
Man In The Boot (feat Trim - remix) - (3:30) 140 BPM
Man In The Boot (instrumental) - (3:06) 140 BPM
Review: Expect the very finest in contemporary grime from this most recent release on No Hats No Hoods. Chronik brings us the compelling "Man In The Boot" which is presented here as a digital package alongside a remix featuring Trim plus a radio edit and instrumental. Let's skip to the original - kicking off with trance-inspired, plucking synths, Chronik spits streetwise, lyrical flavours over the thudding beat, keeping a good flow whilst also creating a powerful drama, which is deeply enticing and very visual. The remix is also well worth checking, shaking up the beats and adding more booming subs, there's also a dialogue between Chronik and Trim which is highly effective. Thumbs up!
Review: A massive eight-track release on No Hats No Hoods. "1 Up" is an 8-bit bleepy computer game-referencing slab of the murkiest business imaginable, which gets remixed by Martin Kemp into a quirky little ditty, with pared down beats n bass, plenty of percussion, and Rocks, who roughs things up good and proper with choppy beats and dramatic synth sweeps. Original piece "Mega" is a heavy, synth-laden piece with ominous overtones, whilst J Beatz's interpretation brings out the cinematic drama. "Beatfighter" sees Royal T return to the 8-bit bleeps, which Bok Bok accentuates with some grouchy bass in his remix. Final cut "Gargoyle" is a low-slung riddim with buckets of character, and Silencer's remix is a killer.
Review: No Hats No Hoods maintain their status as one of the leading London grime labels with this next release from Kozzie. The solipsistic "I'm Famous" appropriately appears in no less than six forms; radio edits, instrumentals and Virgo remix aplenty. The original pairs nasal, razor sharp lyrics delivered with acerbic intent, repeated almost to the extent of imitating a juke track. The track underneath is a bonafide bassline badman, with undulating b-line, filthy subs and pounding drums. Virgo transforms it into an upbeat, jiving, Redlight-style 4/4 number with less bass, more jumping melodies and buckets of fun!
Review: One of the most anticipated grime releases of the year after 2010's Spooky-produced "Spartan" tune threw Kozzie into the underground limelight, The Problem's Started is an undiluted 12-track slap around the chops - from the emphatic title tune, to the warped crunk of "Cherryade Special" and icy dubstep of "Riding Out". There's even a much-anticipated "Spartan Remix", with MC's Margar, Rival, Ego & Scufizzer hooked up for the posse cut, while the assorted producer credits - Mensah, Faze Miyake, Royal-T and SNK amongst others - should have hardcore heads panting.
Review: No Hats No Hoods. It's a name that certainly sticks in the mind, playing on irony, dripping with attitude, oozing a self-assured confidence. True to form, this glorious release on what is undoubtedly one of the kings of underground grime labels does just that. Enter Badness feat. Skepta & Lil Nasty, for "Badness" - the 10th release from the imprint. The delectable spooky intro, growling "Nightmaaare" in breathy, ominous tones, sets a precedent for things to come. Its inky blank bassline penetrates the very essence of your being; a scurrilous interplay of spoken word, rumbling bass, jittering synths and hissing breaks prevails. DMZ's Coki and Cotti deliver a decidedly more upbeat remix, full of bouncing, stepping rhythms, before Bristol-based HENCH producer, Mensah, comes up with a dollop of screechy synth-driven dubstep to break things up. Bassboy, in stark contrast, fixes up, looks sharp (to use an overused grime idiom), so that the words are spoken in discerning clarity, with more of a bassline vibe. It's a cracking release all round, though - highly recommended.