Various Artists
Run The Road
2005
A-



anyone with half a blog should be aware of the basics by now out of the dormant garage and UK hip-hop scenes, a much darker and original sound emerged. Collaring the thriving pirate radio station network to literally and metaphorically harness the most vital form of music in England and transmit all over the country, grime has been extremely popular. That’s where the disconnect occurs. For those in the blogosphere, grime is everywhere, a happening and ever-changing music that rules a few particularly influential writers. In the real world, though, grime is being sold in only a few specialty shops, white label productions are nearly impossible to find, and sales are not nearly as high as many would have you believe.

Dizzee Rascal, of course, has been the star to emerge from the ranks of the myriad MCs pushing the music forward in the trenches, with Wiley following closely behind. Besides that, however, things have been quiet aside from a few compilations and DJ mixes. That’s why it’s instructive to look at 679 Records recent compilation Run The Road, as it’s the first major independent label’s document of the MCs and producers likely to follow in Dizzee and Wiley’s footsteps.

And yes, it does feature them as well. Wiley makes his mark as support on the Jammer-led “Destruction VIP” and the eerily-similar-to-Timbaland-bar-the-enormous-bass of closer “Mic Fight,” while Dizzee Rascal takes a starring role on an album highlight “Give U More.” Even Mike Skinner makes an appearance, no doubt to help boost record sales, on the remix to “Fit But You Know It.”

It’s the (relative) unknowns that shine more brightly here, though. Kano seems fit for the spotlight on his turns, most notably on “P’s and Q’s,” in which his voice almost sounds too smooth (grime’s Jay-Z?) for the rough edged MIDI orchestral stabs and sub-bass that make up the majority of the production. Similarly, Tinchy Strider’s “Move” sees the MC fulfilling the promise of his early praise, while riding atop what would accurately termed a grunge/grime hybrid production.

That sort of experimental production isn’t the exception here, though. The preceding track, “Da Rush” is even more rock-based, grinding out a looped metal riff to accompany the growling voices of Demon, Bruza, and Big E-D, while the aforementioned “Destruction VIP” sounds like a spy-theme merging with 2-step.

Compiled by the grime scribe Martin Clark, Run The Road is important for a variety of reasons, not least of all because it’s the first time that many of these artists are available on widely distributed CD. Considering this and the star power of grime’s established MCs, this one is a no-brainer for those interested in the sound of now in the UK. Who knows? Maybe it can actually become as popular as the blogs make it out to be.



Reviewed by: Charles Merwin
Reviewed on: 2005-02-04
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