the ultimate 2016 grime mix
Let DJ Cable soundtrack your first day back with the best of the genre.
Kano shot by Olivia Rose
DJ Cable knows about grime. And he knows about mixing. The 1Xtra resident and Essex born turntablist is a 3x DMC champion who is known for his supreme sections of all things hip hop, grime and bass. To celebrate grime's triumphant year, Cable has concocted this mind-blowing 2+ hour mix of all things UK underground, featuring everyone from the big hitters (Skep, Kano, Stormzy, Wiley) to the up-and-comers (Coco, Blakie, Grim Sickers) to the long-lost like Armour, Syer B, Stormin and Nikki S & Nyke. Press play below and relive 2016 in all of its grimy greatness...
Hi DJ Cable. What's this mix all about then?
I've tried to represent the entire spectrum of grime, from the obvious bangers to emerging MC and producer talent, the instrumental side of things, plus a number of personal favourites and tunes from myself and my label, Triangulum. There was a boatload of stuff I wanted to squeeze into the mix, tunes that I rated highly but couldn't fit them in without it sounding too crammed, and could have easily gone past the three hour mark, but I think I've done an alright job.
Do you remember your first experience of grime?
So Solid's Dilemma for me is probably one of the first real grime records, so I'd say hearing that and seeing So Solid at the MOBOs on TV. Other than that, hearing I Luv U on a tape pack that a friend lent me at uni was a standout moments. I'd never really heard anything like it in terms of production - everything just sounded raw. Soon after, I got a weekend job at Chemical Records and had all this access to vinyl so started to dig deeper and learn more in between doing my thing with DJ battles and the hip hop side of things. That's when I finally got to know the names of tunes such as Eskimo and Creeper and realised, "oh, THAT's that track I've been hearing on these tape packs!"
Top 3 moments in grime this year?
In no particular order...
1) Skepta winning the Mercury Prize.
2) BBK headlining Wireless.
3) Dizzee performing Boy in da Corner in its entirety. That's definitely something I'd to see more of actually. I know Kano's done it with Home Sweet Home but could you imagine an In at the Deep End show, or a Treadin on Thin Ice / Playtime Is Over show? That'd be dope.
Best bars of 2016?
Everyone's bars on 3 Wheel Ups are standouts for me. Armour's vocal of P Jam's Pepper Pot is also sick. GHSTLY XXVII's bars on 3310 as well, plus anything that Ghetts put out. P Money and Blacks also had some wicked tracks too, Flowdan's album was a great body of work, everyone on Darkness' Arrogant Stance was on form, plus Grim Sicker's flow on Kane is nuts. Yeah, there were a lot of big tunes this year.
Best grime producer of 2016?
Ah man, that's a real tough one. Rude Kid's been on fire this year, as has Sir Spyro - Mud and Topper Top are huge records, as is Dun Know Already. Spooky's been so consistent this year also, as have JLSXND7S, Gundam, Filthy Gears, Darkness, and labels such as White Peach and Boxed have also been putting out some great records from some great producers.
AJ Tracey has most definitely had a big year, but you've also got the likes of Grim Sickers, Big Zuu, Reece West, Big John and GHSTLY XXVII (Ghostly) who even though have been on the circuit for a while, have definitely reached a wider audience this year and put out some amazing music. Ets and Blakie have also had a great year too. Producer-wise, Filthy Gears, Rapture 4D and Darkness have really come into their own this year. Expect good things from them soon.
Were you at Ally Pally for Skepta's show?
Sadly not! I had to DJ that night, but was keeping up to date on social media. I'm definitely gutted I couldn't witness history right there. It looked insane. Oh and I certainly enjoyed the restarts too as well. Hold tight the restart massive.
OVO x BBK. What does it mean for the genre in your opinion?
It's an interesting one. From what I've seen and heard, Drake is a genuine fan of the genre and UK music culture in general. Aside from the Ojuelegba remix, we're still yet to see any kind of real collaboration. As long it's organic then I'm all for it, and if it means that it reaches a wider audience who wouldn't necessarily listen to grime or know where to start with researching it, then surely that's a good thing? However, I think there's this misconception that this OVO co-sign is the first step in the US finally accepting our music. What people do need to realise is that there has been support from the US (and Canada) for years - J Cush, Starkey, Dev 79, Shiftee & Matt Shadetek have been championing the sound for years, as well as Canadian artists like Tre Mission. Speaking of Canada, even Kardinal Offishall did a version of Pow for Semtex back in the day you know. There's always been overseas support and interest.
Where does grime go from here?
If I were to make any predictions, even though there's been a number of overseas collabs, I think next year could be the year you'll see a few more high profile ones, whether that's with OVO x BBK or someone else. Other than that, there's a healthy amount of raves, radio shows, tunes, videos and live shows right now. Maybe more large scale shows similar to Skepta at Ally Pally - someone like Wiley perhaps?
With regards to the current interest in the scene, I think a lot of people are also anxious about labels sticking their nose in and money being thrown around, like when you started hearing a million and one dubstep remixes, or dubstep-influenced tunes for the Top 40 a few years ago. Same thing with house music as well. But the beauty of grime is that you can't put it in a box. There's no checklist. It's only when you start putting something in a box that's when you'll start to see saturation. Every few years something will happen and everyone will be like, "grime is back!" But the reality is it doesn't disappear. It's a staple part of UK culture.
More artists are taking control, releasing their own music on their own terms, and it's working. The genre is proof that you can succeed without the need for a major label. If you have a strong fan base and you're consistent, anything is possible. You can even chart with a freestyle. It's a good time to be an independent artist and it's certainly a good time for UK music as a whole.
Text Hattie Collins