What To Buy: Grime Vinyl
Chris Parkin uncovers recent gems in a particular genre. Here, he rounds up what’s available to grime vinyl collectors…
Grime’s second ‘golden age’ – in terms of unit-shifting artists, at least – took a decade to dawn. One major difference between its first coming, circa 2004 – when MCs and producers ran the road with some thrilling singles and albums – and today, is the dearth of modern-day grime on vinyl. Browse Discogs and you’ll find first-wave releases such as Wiley’s Treddin’ On Thin Ice and Skepta’s Duppy going for big bucks.
In 2017, though, a lot of grime is strictly web-only. Section Boyz’ Lock Arff and Nadia Rose’s Skwod are just two vital tracks not on wax. But what can you pick up? 12 months after the release of Skepta’s Mercury-winning Konnichiwa – the first grime album to take that gong since Dizzee’s Boy In Da Corner in 2003 – it’s now available on red double vinyl. Clamour for its wax release came from an older generation in thrall to an aggro sound described as ‘this generation’s answer to punk and agit-rap’. But a yoot looking for tangible physical product from its heroes – and Skepta’s often-overlooked involvement in grime’s evolution, both solo and as part of Boy Better Know, qualifies him in the ‘hero’ category – also helped trigger the release.
Also (finally) available is Stormzy’s Gang Signs & Prayer. Konnichiwa came first, powered by the blitzkrieg bounce of Shutdown, but Stormzy’s debut – grime’s first-ever No. 1 – is a more nuanced effort that deserves its status as a crossover hit. However, it’s taken four months for the double-vinyl version to hit the racks, courtesy of Stormzy’s own #MERKY label. “I’ve never seen a major label know what to do with black artists,” Stormzy once said. They’re missing a trick, because this release will fly.
Traversing the gap between grime, UK hip-hop, dancehall and RnB is J Hus’s Common Sense. The third grime big-hitter in 12 months, its double-vinyl release might be the most sought after.
GRIME’S SECOND ‘GOLDEN AGE’ TOOK A DECADE TO DAWN. ONE BIG DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ITS FIRST COMING AND TODAY IS THE DEARTH OF MODERN-DAY VINYL
For those wishing to discover the Terror Danjah and Rapids of modern grime – the producers who give it its kick – there are instrumental releases to catch up on. 20-year-old Novelist made his name with the 1 Sec EP in 2015 (still easily found on Discogs), but he’s on an instrumental tip at the moment and his limited-edition Yakuta EP on blue 12-inch is a foreboding and propulsive must-get. Easier to nab is Maniac’s Homecoming EP. Following his scorching 100 Problems hook-up with Boothroyd and Maxsta in 2015, Maniac’s 2017 effort is a wavy, bleepy, strings-sampling four-tracker of high-intensity grime.
More adventurous still are Mr Mitch and Slackk. The former’s Devout album for Planet Mu is a deft, pretty take on emotional, down-home grime, featuring guest MCs and inspired by neo-classical electronica as much as it is by the endz. Similarly, Slackk’s A Little Light (R&S) bridges the gap between ambience and dystopian grime in another deep trip. Whatever the sound, though, grime’s game of one-upmanship is making it more exciting than ever. We just want more vinyl to prove it.