A fine return from a genre great with a few new tricks up his sleeve.
Louis Pattison 2010-10-25
The passage of time can have an editing effect on the parameters of a musical genre, making for a cleaner history but whitewashing some of the detail retrospectively deemed off-message along the way. So it has been with grime, which has become fixed in the memory for a handful of male star MCs – Dizzee Rascal, Wiley, Tinchy Stryder and Chipmunk – and a production style steeped in banging, lo-tech beats and lurking bass.
While Terror Danjah might have been one of the most naturally skilled producers to spring out of early grime, much of his best work was about neither. In-house producer for the Aftershock stable, Danjah’s early work has a luxurious, liquid feel, all slippery beats and electronic trills – and not forgetting his sonic signature, a gremlin cackle dropped menacingly at the back of each bar. And while he’s done work with grime’s more aggro MCs – indeed, Cock Back with Riko, Bruza, D Double E and Hyper is one of the genre’s milestones – he’s also worked extensively with female rappers and singers, even coining a short-lived name, r’n’g, to describe the splinter sound.
Danjah never found his way to a major, but more recently he’s found a home on leftfield dance labels Planet Mu (who released his instrumentals compilation Gremlinz) and, now, Kode9’s Hyperdub. Undeniable debuts a slightly beefier, updated sound, beat patterns programmed with a new heft and complexity. The real thrill, though, is the way it shakes out several generations of MC to do Danjah’s bidding. Money-making anthem This Year (Pro Plus) finds Mz Bratt spitting hard alongside DOK and Griminal, while the title-track finds Newham Generals man D Double E rabbity-fast atop dotty synths.
The nicest surprise comes with Leave Me Alone, where Danjah’s old collaborator Bruza – a charismatic, if somewhat limited MC – stretches out on a track that builds from garrulous philosophising to a strobe-lit four-to-the-floor climax. All in all, it’s a fine return from a genre great, and one with a few new tricks up his sleeve.