Sega Boy EP
Enfield DJ/producer J Beatz is frequently doing something new in grime, recently contributing to No Hats No Hoods’ excellent ‘London to Addis’ compilation. Here he does something that’s never been done before, fusing grime’s distinctly London sound with music from his native land, Mauritius. Séga is the name of the music traditional to the island, and J Beatz takes the rhythmic makeup of the genre (using the ravanne and the triangle) to create an entirely new percussive structure that’s at once tight and huge-sounding. Mixed and mastered by Boylan, this EP is a gem.
'Break Up Riddim'
Released on Valentine’s Day, ‘Break Up Riddim’ is a movement away from the ruffneck, cutting MCing style Ten Dixon’s become known for. With hazy production that takes influence from East Asian instrumentation, Ten Dixon delivers heartfelt lyrics that tackle the ups and downs of relationships, although the vocals sound like they could do with some turning up.
'Evilset Airwaves / Evilset Anthem'
Another Valentine’s Day drop, here from Glasgow-via-Greenock producer Polonis, although this isn’t some kind of sweet rhythm ‘n’ grime fix – instead, Polonis draws for horror-fuelled stabs and slap-in-the-face sonics with a nod to Evilset (the crew consisting of Polonis, MJK and Hermz).
A promising new voice emerging out of Croydon, Queenie is taking grime to new levels via a handful of singles last year. ‘Laid Out’s let-down is in the fairly grating trap-meets-EDM beat she opts for, but the MC delivers the razor-sharp bars and unique flows she’s clearly more than capable of. Here’s to hearing more of her in 2020.
An anthem squarely aimed at ‘90s babies, Kamakaze rakes through fond recollections of his teenage years as a “kid born in the 1900s”. Talking chavs and emos, Pro Evo, dubstep, Pokemon and more, the Leicester native looks back to a time when life was simpler, over a retrofitted beat with a similar energy to Little Simz’s ‘101 FM’, produced by Australia’s Swick.
Manga Saint Hilare
Following up the impressive, mental health-themed joint project with Murkage Dave, ‘We Need To Look After Us’, Manga keeps the work rate at a consistently high level with a new freestyle. The long-standing MC recounts his journey as a steadfastly independent artist, riding a Lewi B and Sabz-produced beat, explaining why a label deal isn’t necessary for him to achieve success.
As one of the forefathers of grime, N.A.S.T.Y Crew’s Sharky Major has a versatile vocal gift, and his patois-filled, gravelly flow has become a genre hallmark. The J Fresh-produced ‘Reloads’ calmly takes aim at other MCs in the game right now overestimating their ability over skippy, horn-packed production. No doubt it'll get reloads.
'Rules of Survival'
Cadell made headlines recently when he stepped into the Wiley v Stormzy beef, reigniting the feud between himself and Big Mike with the scalding ‘World War III’. On ‘Rules of Survival’, Scholar’s beat is a high-energy nod to the mid-2000s Ruff Sqwad sound, packed with recognisable samples, but Cadell manages to not be overshone by the chaotic beat thanks to his energetic flows and cutting lines like “you’re just Instagram rich”.
Ten years on(!) from ‘Are You Gonna Bang Doe’, Funky Dee gives the beloved original a 2020 refresh, with producer Olja chopping up the UK funky instrumental into a more grime-focused number. ‘Run’ has an unmistakably old skool flavour with the energy of Dee’s flows, producing plenty of quotables with lines from his LOTM clash with Mischief.