Soundclouds of the Underground: London Grime Edition
With an infinite number of websites dedicated to hosting tunes for the laptop-wielding masses, music truly lives online. However, the web’s bottomless pit of blogs isn’t the only place to troll for mp3 treasures—some of the newest and most exciting (Internet-friendly) artists can be sought out via Soundcloud, the online stage that allows musicians to promote and distribute music around the world. In this weekly column, expert Internet sleuth Alex Chapman goes into the depths of the music-sharing site, in hopes of shedding light on emerging acts, as well as sharing some digital diamonds in the rough.
When it comes to cool music of the moment, everything seems to go back to London. Whether it’s the emergence of grime stateside, PC Music’s pop takeover, or British producers becoming an integral part of the hip-hop game, across the pond is where it’s at, innit? We picked three of our favorites to look out for below.
Who: Undoubtedly the new king of 2015’s version of grime (though he’s been a prominent member of the scene since 2009), Skepta’s blunt, fearless delivery over genre-fusing beats has made him music’s MVP. NYC has embraced the rapper with open arms, with creatives like Virgil Abloh and A$AP Mob’s Young Lord backing the talent (see their collaborative track “It Ain’t Safe“).
The Song: “Shutdown” is the defining arrival of Skepta’s newest incarnation—clean-cut, minimal aesthetics defined by menacing beats that give the rapper room to impressively flow, and then flow some more. His vernacular is catchy and in a room full of rappers vying for the same sound, Skepta sticks by simply being the best version of himself.
Current Project: From Boiler Room performances to interviews with BBC Radio 1’s Zane Lowe, Skepta’s plenty busy. Keep up with him on Facebook.
Darq E Freaker: “Choppin Necks” (feat. Dai Burger)
Who: Darq E Freaker’s initial crossover arguably came when he collaborated with the inimitable Danny Brown on “Blueberry (Pills & Cocaine),” an energetic, off-kilter beat seemingly tailor-made for Brown’s eccentric vocals. Freaker has kept his steak since then, his brooding trap banger Minger” racking up over 260,000 plays on Soundcloud.
The Song: “Choppin Necks” is hashtaged with ‘Freakerism,’ and rightly so, for the producer is truly carving out a sound of his own. Tough, menacing beats have a hip-hop backbone, with grime and electronic undertones throughout. Smartly employing Interview favorite Dai Burger to provide a flurry of funny, sexy punchlines, the track is altogether an example of a perfect partnership between Burger and Freaker.
Current Project: Keep up to date on Freaker’s upcoming projects via Facebook.
Novelist: “Yakuta Riddim”
Who: Kanye’s recent, soon-to-be legendary Brit Award’s performance of “All Day” was flanked by some of U.K.’s finest rappers, including Skepta, Jammer and 18 year-old Novelist, who also doubles as an equally talented producer. His 1 Sec EP (a collab with producer Mumdance released on XL) shows a whole lot of promise, priming him to be next up in the UK’s burgeoning rap scene.
The Song: Novelist has bars, but he also wears the producer hat pretty well, as can be seen with this Japan-inspired grime instrumental. Gunshots and hard claps abound, the sinister beat has all the makings of a heavy-hitting record.
Current Project: Keep up with the rising talent’s live shows and new music on Facebook.
Soundclouds of the Underground runs every Thursday. For more, click here.