Way back when, in Kingston Town, a revolution was taking place. Ghetto kids tired of the hectoring nature of roots reggae plugged in some basic computer technology and presto: new sounds were born. Dub begat dancehall, and those changes still echo through modern music.
Toddla T is a Sheffield-based soul whose plates have been the talk of the nascent dubstep scene, despite his meagre years. This, his first long-player, is the man born Tom Bell’s definitive statement to date, and it marks the emergence of a stunningly inventive new producer.
‘Shake It’ finds mutant dancehall filtered through the electro-house prism of Herve, a superstar team-up that has made the mouths of clubbers water across the nation. But ‘Skanky Skanky’ is more than mere hand-in-the-air fodder, with the album displaying both a knowledge and disregard for emerging bass trends.
While there’s nary a wobble to be found, Mr Versatile’s toasting on ‘Where Mi Key Deh?’ pushes the track towards territories comparable to The Bug, a savage blast of bass-led fury. Toddla T’s best-known production effort to date was on last year’s Roots Manuva album, ‘Slime And Reason’, and the MC returns the favour on ‘Goin’ Off’, a track that, well, goes off - like an atom bomb attached to a sub-woofer.
Sure, some purists will balk at a white producer crafting the beats on ‘Rice And Peas’, but really, this is the sound of modern British young claiming a shared heritage. What’s yours is mine, and what belongs to Toddla T is a skewed vision of dancehall that offers much more than grindin’ booties – this is a complete sonic template.
‘Skanky Skanky’ is a brilliant first-time offering that will move your mind as well as your body, and proof if any were needed that ripples from the sonic splash of dancehall continue to linger on.