Jaw-dropping bravery mixes with brooding electronics and funky warmth.
Garry Mulholland 2011
This is one of those albums where you work your way through all the layers of controversy, gossip and darkness to get to the music. Durrty Goodz, aka Dwayne Mahorn, is an MC from Leytonstone, east London who first came to prominence on the underground grime scene back in 2004. Known for his ability to rhyme on any style of black music, he was signed to Polydor and hailed as a post-Dizzee Rascal next big thing, but, for mysterious reasons, he and label parted company before anything substantial was released.
Meanwhile, his half-brother, fellow grime artist Crazy Titch aka Carl Dobson, was given a life sentence in 2005 for his involvement in a murder in Chingford; and it emerged that Mahorn had already done jail time. But he rebuilt his career on the London grime scene and, after acclaimed EPs and mixtapes, has finally made a debut album proper on his own label. The problem is that the album’s charms are initially overshadowed by its closing track, which seems to go out of its way to personally insult some of the scene’s most notable names, including Wiley, Kano and the aforementioned Dizzee.
But it isn’t actually that simple. The spectacularly accomplished Battle Hype is actually four different rap battles where Goodz plays all the parts (including himself) by conjuring spot-on impersonations of Wiley and company. This hasn’t stopped Wiley making an instant answer record, despite Mahorn’s protests that it’s a comic tribute. This might be more convincing if the tune wasn’t packed full of personal details about his rivals’ lives.
All of which gives the Durrty One a great deal of publicity, but possibly of the wrong kind. A shame, because Overall is a great British rap album that stands entirely on its own merits. The beats are a perfect balance between brooding electronics and funky warmth, and Mahorn has a gift for leavening the brags, taunts and ghetto reportage with humour and charm.
But listening to Imagine and Battle Hype together reveals a talent that seems to want his cake and eat it; attracting attention by provoking more famous names into a scrap while preaching scene unity. On the other hand, if Durrty Goodz had decided to leave the beef well alone, we wouldn’t have one of the most jaw-droppingly brave and brilliant rap tracks of the last 10 years. It’s sad but true: call it grime or not, but hip hop continues to be a genre that doesn’t really suit everybody just getting along.