How Butterz shaped grime’s late second flowering

With just nine releases, the London-based label of Rinse DJs Elijah and Skilliam has flown the flag for instrumental grime. Here, ahead of their second birthday bash, Anthony Walker charts the development.

Butterz originated as a grime blog back in 2007 interviewing producers and DJs from the much maligned scene before founders Elijah and Skilliam debuted their show on Rinse FM and left blogging behind to concentrate on launch the Butterz label. You should be glad they did as the imprint has released nine gems in just under two years and show no signs of relenting.

The label’s first few releases were by the stalwart Terror Danjah and his affiliate D.O.K, with a compilation EP ‘Quality Street’ in the middle and not mentioning the white label vinyl release of SX’s massive Woo Riddim, but it was really after Butterz release number five in 2011 that the black and yellow wave began to crest. The label hooked up with Southampton’s finest Royal T to release the devasting Orangeade. Like Royal T, producer Swindle formed a close relationship with the label and the ‘Orangeade EP’ was followed with a 12” of Mood Swings. Two musicians on the verges on grime were brought it and championed by the label and it was the double release of VIP versions of both Orangeade and Mood Swings that perked ears up – particularly the eight minute, funked out refix of the latter track – a wildly ambitious but completely appropriate first for the genre.

Better was yet to come with Boo You a Royal T remix of a TRC track with vocals from P Money, Blacks and Slickman. The release was the first on the label to feature primary vocals and the heavy garage-influence was taken up with the MC’s brilliantly debauched braggadocio. As well as ‘Boo You’, Butterz released the double side single I Am by Trim, one of grime’s – make that the country’s – best mic men and the Pearson Sound and SX Wooo Glut mash-up. Last year was rounded off by the mix album ‘Rinse FM: 17’ celebrating the strong work Elijah and Skilliam have put into their weekly and featured a lot of tracks released through or heavily supported by the label.

Butterz hit the ground running with Unlimited a collaboration between Swindle and West London dubstepper Silkie. Let Me Be The One, another Terror Danjah track and foray into vocal grime with Ruby Lee Ryder, is their latest effort and will be released this April.

Butterz have been integral in the resurgent of grime and look to be going from strength to strength. Coming into only their second year, the label have been partly responsible for some of the brightest and best the scene has had to offer recently.

They are rightly celebrating their second birthday at Cable this Saturday alongside friends and contemporaries Hardrive Records with a line-up featuring old dons, new favourites and of course a set from the birthday boys Elijah and Skilliam.

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