Typically frantic and at certain points, verging on the unbelievable, March has proved to be another whirlwind month in the world of grime. From So Solid Crew's sell-out reunion show at Brixton Academy to Wiley leaking his forthcoming album over a dispute with his label, dull moments have been few and far between; controversy aside, the music has been pretty good too. Flava D's debut 12'' ('Hold On' / Home') for Butterz was released on March 11th, Terror Danjah's 'Hardwired' compilation, a project that's taken near-on 18 months to come together, also saw release and Moony, a talent who never fails to impress, released 4 groove-laden experimental house cuts in the shape of the 'Soul Sessions' EP. Martin Clark's Keysound imprint have also been busy, releasing debut compilation 'This is How We Roll', comprised of a series of tracks from their extensive network of exploratory producers. Although not conventional by any means, the grimy undertones of Visionist's 'Dangerous', Epoch's 'The Steppenwolf' and Wen's VIP cut of much-lauded track 'Commotion' make for compelling but moreover, essential listening.
On the MC front, Midlands collective Stay Fresh boasted one of the year's early success stories in the shape of Saf One's 'Saf Done Dis' mixtape, which peaked at number 2 in the ITunes Hip Hop chart following it's release on March 3rd. Featuring production credits from Swifta Beater and guest appearances from scene heavyweights P Money, Jammer and Frisco, 'Saf Done Dis' illustrates grime's ability to make in-roads where support is harnessed, engaged and ultimately valued. Although enduring something of a turbulent month with regards to new album 'The Ascent', Wiley too has been hard at work, putting out the 20th freestyle of his now iconic 'Steps' series, with the instrumental this time provided by serial hit-maker Rude Kid. In other news, MIK's 'Cak3' single, a track I singled out as one of my top 5 of the month back in January, is also set for release on April 1st.
Events wise, March saw two new grime nights crop up in the capital. Jamz, a night curated by Butterz duo Elijah & Skilliam, was launched at the Alibi in Dalston with guests including Royal-T, P Jam and Terror Danjah whilst new instrumentally-charged night Boxed launched at Peckham Palais. Orchestrated by Slackk, Mr Mitch, Oil Gang and Logos, (with a set from Local Action's Tom Lea thrown in for good measure), Boxed offered up a showcase of instrumental grime's tougher, exploratory side and shed much-needed light onto the new wave of producers taking the genre by storm.
Top 5 Tracks of the Month:
Mr Mitch - Catford
Not specifically grime by any means but included for the cat sampling alone, this casts light onto the genius of one of grime's most experimental producers.
Terror Danjah - Breakdance
Released on limited press 12'' as a surprise thank you earlier this month, 'Breakdance' is Terror's best work since last year's LP for Hyperdub - a glorious funky-infused dancefloor roller.
Wiley - Step 20
Wiley and Rude Kid are a tried and tested combination and the two combine again to great effect again here, with the Steps freestyle series arguably chronicling some of Wiley's career-best moments.
Visionist - Calm Ur Hype
Monstrous 8-bar cut from Keysound protege Visionist that exudes nostalgia in all the right ways. Eski at full tilt.
P Jam - Arizona Skyz VIP
Released on Terror's 'Hardwired' compilation, 'Arizona Skyz' has been high in-demand since it first surfaced back in 2011. The VIP cut only adds to the mystique and sheer weight of the original. Classic.
Words by Tomas Fraser