‘Grime MC’: Jme’s latest project is a lesson in authenticity in the social media age
Last week, our Song of the Week celebrated an artist who wasn’t afraid of change, and this week it’s (contradictorily) more of the same. After all, there are few things that a musician can do that are as inspiring and exhilarating as turning away from their Plan A to create a completely fresh Plan B, ignoring the blueprint of their listeners’ expectations and going completely on instinct. When it pays off, as it has for DELS this week, it’s pretty much the bravest and best move an artist can make.
DELS first came to our attention back in 2009, and he turned heads with his brash debut album ‘GOB’ last year, on which his lyrics lashed out of each track with a bare-faced cheek, egged on by thumping production from the likes of Kwes and Joe Goddard. On first listen, then, those who heard his first LP would be understandably taken aback by the listless near-mumble of the vocal and the scattered shuffling of the production on his brand new track You Live In My Head. This marked contrast is exactly what makes this new song so extremely DELS-ish, though – rather than the sounds themselves, it’s the frank honesty and openness that shine through the music, cracking each chord, each note, each word wide open to reveal the whir of thought and emotion beneath.
At the beginning of the video for YLIMH, DELS shares a quote from the artist and filmmaker Oskar Fischinger, “Everything in the world has a spirit which is released by its sound.” This is how we know, explicitly, that DELS is not in the business of making new sounds – he’s in the business of finding them. Not so much a creator as a curator, the MC listens with an honest and open heart to the essence of what he wants to communicate, and he lets the form of his work come from that starting point. This is why his new song is so alarmingly different, and why it’s so alarmingly good.
When spirit is your starting point, you can’t help but make a song that’s spirited and soulful, and YLIMH is the epitome of both. Soaked to the skin with a weighty, powerless melancholy, the tone of this heartbroken song is completely resigned, and its humming emptiness and incessant, scuffed-shoe beat are a complete sonic embodiment of that “too late to do anything now” feeling. From the delicate imagery of lines like “As the sun melts your face and drips in my palms,” to the weary refrain of “I had a right laugh, there’s no need to pretend/ That you live in my head,” DELS reveals himself on this track to a be a fluid, transparent artist able to fully embody and evoke the emotion he’s talking about. For that reason, You Live In My Head is the bravest and most honest song I’ve heard all week.