Nostalgic grime heaven for long-term fans of east London’s finest crews.
N.A.S.T.Y. Crew, More Fire Crew and Aftershock are among the defunct collectives responsible for alerting the British press to the darker side of urban music; but none of them have been able to keep the fires burning after giving up their grime ghosts.
But Ruff Sqwad have haunted us with their classics ever since they decided to go their separate ways in 2010, a sad moment for many a grime fan.
On a mainstream level, Tinchy Stryder has undoubtedly been the most successful member of the crew. He’s sold millions of singles and become a household name, while Slix, Rapid, Fuda Guy and Dirty Danger have independently released mixtapes and produced for up-and-coming UK talents.
No matter what they’ve achieved solo, though, the spirit of Ruff Sqwad has continued to follow each member, leading to every interviewer asking: "When can we expect another Ruff Sqwad set?" Well, the spirit’s come through for us. When news surfaced that Ruff Sqwad were planning to release this collection, hearts across the land rejoiced.
It’s been a long six years since the East London crew put out their revered Guns and Roses Volume 2 album, and now there’s the chance for those who might think they’re too old to keep up with today’s grime scene to relive their gun-finger-throwing past one last time.
White Label Classics features a few never-before-heard instrumentals, but the bulk of it is pure nostalgic grime heaven.
The melodic Anna opens proceedings, a track which was originally voiced by the MCs back in 2004. It sets the rest of this synth-heavy compilation up nicely.
Up pops 2002’s Pied Piper, a Fruity Loops-produced number that is, without a doubt, one of grime’s staple instrumentals. Functions on the Low is dreamy, complete with flute, maracas and computer game-like kicks and stabs.
Tings in Boots is another standout: full of bass, claps and synths, it was made famous by Stryder’s "tings in boots" line in the early-00s, before his voice broke.
You might have grown beyond grime’s current generation of artists, but White Label Classics has the power to make you feel like a Rinse FM-loving teenager all over again.