It’s a good time for grime right now. After a few years where 12”s have been thin on the ground, labels like Kode 9’s Hyperdub, Terrorhythm, Earth 616 and No Hats No Hoods are all stepping up to ensure the sound is back on record shop racks. And it dovetails with a new generation of producers taking it somewhere new again. Leading the way is new label BUTTERZ. An extension of the late-late-night RINSE FM (read our guide to the station) show of the same name where DJs Elijah and Skilliam play the most upfront grime instrumentals, BUTTERZ was set up to show that the scene is still home to some of the most exciting dance music around. Debuting with TERROR DANJAH’s ‘Bipolar’ EP (read our interview with him) and ‘Quality Street’, an EP of tracks by producers Silencer, Royal T and SRC up next, it’s UK street music’s most important new player. Here are four reasons why:
They’ve helped foster a new wave of producers.
“I said to a lot of the guys at the beginning of the year,” says Elijah, “‘you should start making music where you don’t even need an MC’. And then they started making tunes like (Swindle’s) Air Miles. With the new producers, they know that to make money or even get heard now, they have to have a beat that’s successful on its own, not on the back of an MC’s vocal. They’ve been building stuff for so long for MCs to spit on, and that was an art in itself, but you couldn’t even imagine an MC spitting on Air Miles. That wasn’t the intention.”
They like the idea of secret music histories.
“A lot of grime that came out on white-labels, mp3s of it just don’t exist. So classic tunes like J Sweet’s Kerb, which is one of my favourite grime tracks, you can’t find it! It’s crazy, the way an entire era of music has just disappeared. I mean, I suppose I could ask J Sweet if he could give it to me, but there’s a whole four years of music that’s just not available on mp3. And I like that. If you bought it at the time you got it, otherwise you don’t.”
The single is king.
“Maybe it’s ‘cos I’m a DJ but when I get these mix-CDs, there’ll be maybe two tunes I can pull out, if that. So if I listen to a CD, I probably wouldn’t listen to a grime one, just ‘cos there’s not that many I like. I don’t really listen to it in album form. I’d rather listen to sets or some old pirate radio rips.”
They prefer physical releases.
“Well, with itunes, it’s 79p per song, and then you’re going halves with iTunes, so you get 40p. And then I’m going halves with Terror Danjah, so I’m getting 20p. And remember, the EPs are only about three tunes, so if you put it like that, even though the label’s not supposed to be lucrative in the sense where I make loads of money, the margins are extremely small. Especially in grime, where that’s still not the done thing, to buy mp3s. Plus, for anyone who wants to take up grime DJ-ing, now there’s something for them to go out and buy. If you’re 13 and you’re staying up ‘til one in the morning to hear grime, now you can actually pick up what we’re playing and get involved.”
Plus check out Charlie’s interview with Terror Danjah from late last year.