Toddla T - Watch Me Dance

A mixed bag
Toddla T - Watch Me Dance
When Tom Bell literally toddled into our consciousness with his Ghettoblaster mix we were flummoxed. Dazed And Confused declared it the best mixtape of 2007. We agreed. We danced. Music happily mutated.

Now he’s returned from writing in Jamaica whilst getting a helping hand from Skream, Ms Dynamite, Ross Orton, Wayne Marshall, Donaeo, Roisin Murphy and Shola Ama. But we find ourselves nervously turning his second album over in our hands, frowning like snooping and disappointed parents, fresh out of the youngster’s bedroom.

It seems that Toddla has fallen in with the wrong crowd; half this album has been led astray. Gone is much of the bastard dancehall that we craved. In its place are some fairly tacky moments meaning ‘Watch Me Dance’ seems to fall between the gap between commercial smash ‘n’ grab and quality underground bashment.

‘Take It Back’ is a mid-’90s piano house roller that’s directed more at Radio One’s Big Weekend in Scarborough than the dance-floors we prefer to frequent. On the bashment front ‘How Beautiful It Would Be’ and ‘Cruise Control’ are saccharine sweet auto-tuned beats that merely reinforce how Jamaican music has saddeningly faltered so badly.

However, there are few great moments. ‘Bad Man Flu’ hears him at his album best. Teaming up with historic wingman MC Serocee we are whisked away on an addictive narrative jaunt that noisily pokes fun at their own ‘Jafaken’ culture. Whilst ‘Do It Your Way’ is a silky smooth soul number that transmogrifies into a badass jungle rhythm that’s bound to be a dancefloor killer. A mixed bag that’s perhaps polluted with Toddla’s inevitable fame and fortune.

6/10

Words by MATTHEW BENNETT

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