2014 is upon us, and this week we’ll be rounding up some of the acts we’re most excited about for the year ahead.
Over the next 10 pages, you’ll find our ones to watch from the (loose) grime axis. We’re presuming that you read FACT enough to already be familiar with Slackk, Visionist, Logos, MssingNo, Rabit and Mumdance, six grime acts that we championed throughout 2013 – these are the 10 that we see being up with them next January. Oh, and we’ve already profiled Compa and Strict Face, so we decided to leave them out here to make space for others.
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You know MssingNo – he made our number one track of 2013, after all – but it’s time to get familiar with Moleskin. The record label that he co-runs, Goon Club Allstars, released MssingNo’s ‘XE2’, and Moleskin’s up next on the label with an EP heavy on popping club tracks (‘Clemency’ has already featured on Logos’ FACT mix). Also look out for the more ominous side of his productions, on tracks like ‘Thru the Rain’.
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JT the Goon
A producer for infamous grime clique Slew Dem, 2013 saw JT the Goon step out with a slew of synth-led solo instrumentals circulating the sets of Slackk and Oil Gang – the latter promptly signed him up for the excellent Twin Warriors EP. JT’s debut album is set to follow this year, as well as a split EP with Murlo.
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After last year’s ‘Hold On’, South London’s Flava D was quite rightly hailed as garage’s fresh new hope. She might not have had the expected barrage of releases since, but a quick look at the producer’s Soundcloud page reveals a wealth of spiky edits (fancy hearing 2-step versions of Erykah Badu’s ‘On & On’ and Mary J Blige’s ‘Happy’? Of course you do) and very promising original tracks. Sure, Flava D wears her influences on her sleeve, but considering how many producers are attempting to worship at the UKG altar right now and falling flat on their faces, it’s refreshing how spot on her productions actually are. They’re warm, honest and seem to capture exactly what we loved about garage in the first place – no tricks needed. Who else could flip yet another Aaliyah sample and make it work so well? Exactly.
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Anyone who’s checked out this week’s FACT mix will already be acquainted with Midlands-via-London imagineer Murlo, whose splashy, spring-loaded, soca-infused instrumental grime sounds like a four-dimensional double-rainbow climbing out of your speakers, with added flutes. Last year he put out two EPs (for Unknown To The Unknown and Glacial Sound) and the dreamy and divine ‘Ariel’ (a collaboration with Famous Eno), but the slew of stonking dubplates on his FACT mix suggest another bumper haul of forward-thinking grime shapes in 2014.
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From London but based in Bristol, Gage’s ‘Telo’ has become one of 2014’s most anticipated grime singles, and recently appeared in both Logos and Murlo‘s FACT mixes. Remember the first time you heard Untold’s ‘Stop What You’re Doing’ and just froze? ‘Telo’ has a similar effect. Gage’s send for Neana meanwhile, ‘Yoshimitsu’, made our top 10 war dubs of last year – we can’t wait to see what he comes out with next.
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19-year old videogame fanatic AWE might still be operating just beneath the radar, but we expect that to change very soon. Specifically, when he drops the astonishing ‘Crystals’, which was teased by Plastician (who signed AWE to his Terrorhythm imprint earlier this year) in mid-2013 and has had us frothing at the mouth ever since. Imagine if Rustie relocated to Los Angeles and fell hopelessly in love with a pink stuffed animal and you’ll be on the right track – it’s blissfully cheesy, but anchored with beats that are simply hard to fuck with. His Eagle Soup EP was a mixed affair, but proved to us that AWE is much more comfortable penning tracks that sound sort of like the end music to Capcom side-scrollers than squelchy floor fillers, and we don’t mind one bit.
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Inkke & DJ Milktray
OK, they don’t necessarily come as a pair, but the Glasgow pals do collaborate (most notably on the brilliant ‘848’), and both look set to capitalise on a steady stream of 2013 hype this year: Inkke’s war dub was one of the best of the season and he recently contributed to LuckyMe’s advent calendar, while Milktray’s ‘Hotel’ bootleg has become an anthem at clubnight Boxed.
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Northwest London’s Davor “Dark0” Bokhari has come a long way since crafting R&B-sniping, 2-steppers like ‘Hyli’ a few years back. Last summer saw the release of Zero, a mixtape of his collected work, and while it featured plenty of sawtoothed bangers (‘I KNW’, ‘Violate’), its finest moments showed off Dark0’s hand at birthing technicolor synth melodies. His recent I Ain’t A Sweet Boy EP continues that latter development with sweeping, melancholic tracks like ‘Sweet Boy Pose’ and ‘Karmmm’. Still, he can get nasty when needed, as on ‘Scyther’ and ‘Mako March’.
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Shriekin’ Specialist is the alias of 19-year-old Irish producer Jack Sheehan, who’s been honing the ‘cloud grime’ touted on 2013’s ‘Last / Evening’ single (on Little League Records) into a brasher, bolshier aesthetic that’s as ambitious as that of any of his elders. With nods to the melodies of sino-grime, he has a knack for mixing dark with light, setting brutal, hoods-up bass rhythms against percussion fashioned from creaking doors and girly screams. Did we mention he’s just 19?
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The Keysound enigma stuck to the shadows in 2013, exploring the dread of early dubstep with – as Joe Moynihan pointed out – a gift for suspending disembodied vocals in the ether. The rumbling ‘Commotion VIP’ was a highlight of Keysound’s This Is How We Roll compilation (and served as stellar freestyle material), and the the hits will continue in 2014: stay tuned for his refix of Dizzee’s ‘Strings Hoe’ for some old-meets-new action.
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