15 – Bloom
Bloom fucked with everyone’s head in 2K12 and kept the madness rolling this year with choice remixes and a release on Visionist’s Lost Codes label. His music wasn’t pretty but it damn sure was effective thanks to lazer synths, breaking glass and countless other sound effects deployed to devastating results.
14 – Flava D
As Butterz’ sole signee of 2013, Flava D had massive expectations to live up to but she handled the task with flair and panache: Hold On/Home were a couple of hands in the air anthems and the subsequent VIP versions were just as powerful. Throw in a year spent in the studio preparing dubs (documented on her extremely up to date Soundcloud account) and you’ve got yet another artist in Elijah & Skilliam’s camp able to blend Garage and Grime into something with the best of both worlds.
13 – Rabit
Deconstructed Grime became a hotly tipped sound in 2K13, and Rabit was a major part of that thanks to support from Blackdown and releases on Glacial Sound and Diskotopia. Pushing the idea of urban music to (il)logical limits, some of his tracks featured little more than broken glass, crying infants and bass. Spaced-out? Yes. Emotionally compelling? Definitely.
12 – Kowton
Another producer at the edge of Grime, Kowton beefed up his mechanical Techno riddims with sounds ripped right out of the Pulse X sound palette, bridging the gap between sweaty warehouse parties and icy cold streets. I wouldn’t be surprised if this sound takes off next year, injecting Techno’s occasionally staid approach with young blood while steadying Grime’s beat for fans accustomed to more traditional forms of dance music.
11 – Preditah
Garagey R&B? Check. Vocal Grime cut ups? Double Check. Face mashing instrumentals? Triple Check. Rescuing bait pop tunes and transforming them into club anthems? You bet. Preditah had his fingers in all the pies this year and he excelled at whatever he put his mind to. I could barely settle on three tracks to showcase his work.
10 – Murlo
Equal parts tropical Soca, frozen Grime and martian laser beams, Murlo’s music expanded Grime’s rhythmic palette into Bashment territory, finding in a home in sets by Slackk, Blackdown and beyond. Most Grime producers opt for hyper-melodic musicality or face mashing sonic warfare but with Murlo’s 2K13 output, you never had to choose.
9 – Faze Miyake
In a year where sensitive critics slagged anything remotely trappy, it took guts to kick off a radio show with that one British guy from Rick Ross’ skit. Still, Faze Miyake’s tunnel vision paid off: delivering a furious combination of hi-hats, snares, kicks and gothic sound effects, the Woofer Music general armed his Family Tree camps with some of the hardest riddims this side of Chicago, dominating London while keeping an eye on North-America through collaborations with Tre Mission. Rude.
Download: Faze Miyake on Rinse
8 – Swindle
Is it Grime? Dubstep? Rave? Jazz? Funk? Who knows, but Swindle’s Long Live the Jazz was one of the most uniquely funky albums released this year, sounding like (ahem) George Clinton trapped in an elevator with 2 Bad Mice and an LFO wobble. Throw in a live show that just begs to be taken on the road and one of the better War dubs released this year and you’ve got a talen that’s only beginning to stretch out. Kanye, Dam Funk – give him a call!
7 – Mumdance
After taking a few years off to amass a fully hardware based studio, Mumdance took 2013 by storm with a series of collaborations, may of which were collected on his outstanding Twists & Turns mixtape. Among the highlights, the mind-melting “In Reverse” and “Wut it Do” with Logos, the stellar Turbo Mitzy with Pinch and the quasi-mission statement Truth with Mao. The fact that these tracks were undeniably banging aside, what impressed most about Mumdance’s return is that he was one of the few producers whose merger of classic Grime/Hardcore tropes with Techno felt like an equal exchange – this was a sound we’d never heard before.
6 – Kahn & Neek
NO. This can’t be…AAAAAAHHHHH!!!!! – Such was the sound of Chevy, the devastating follow up to Kahn and Neek’s 2012 banger, Percy. Sure, their sound was classic Grime through and through but what a sound! No production team did more with less this year; and every kick, snare, and bass-blast the duo produced hit like a shotgun blast. Just one request: can we get those Bandulu tunes as a digital compilation guys? Love the vinyl purism but spread the love beyond Bristol.
5 – JME
No Grime emcee commanded as much respect in 2013 as JME. His uncompromised vision, dedication to his music and dismissal of the crossover approach sadly favored by his peers meant he simply dominated the competition. 3-minute mission statement “Integrity” alone is a track so powerfully confident that it’s impossible to imagine another emcee besting him this year and a return to production means we can expect even more heat in 2014. Serious.
4 – Wen
It’s hard to imagine this year’s Grime revival without Wen leading the way. “Commotion” inspired a hundred copycats thanks to its brilliant Dot Rotten sample and even crossed over into the big leagues when Logan Sama played it for Wiley and company, but that was only the tip of the iceberg. Lo-Fidelity was striking in its iciness, Strings Hoe (Remix) was better than anything Dizzee Rascal put out in years and he ended the year with a flury of new dubs, including an absolute scorcher with Riko Dan. Oi, Keysound – there’s an album coming, right?
3 – Logos
We’ve already covered Cold Mission in our album list, but let’s not forget that Logos’ impact extended beyond that singular collection of music. There were the club-ready collaborations with Mumdance, the already legendary Boxed nights, and the radio sets that filled in the blanks for anyone still unsure about how to dance to music with more negative space than kick drums. Above all else, Logos inspired. Paving the way for others on this list and hundreds more who otherwise might not have considered instrumental Grime as a musical outlet. Respect.
2 – Slackk
No one worked harder than Slackk to promote Grime this year: 12 mixes showcasing production by countless new producers, a show on NTS live with guest vocals by Novelist, 2 EPs, a cassette mix covering classic pirate material and of course, Boxed. Slackk was everywhere in 2013, promoting not only the sound but also the spirit – tracks like Showerman, Spray and Shogun Assassin defied conventional dance music structure, unfolding with their own internal logic. With that, the man once best known for documenting Grime online moved to the genre’s center.
Download: 2013 Monthly mixes
1 – Visionist
If there’s one man who exemplified how far instrumental Grime could go in 2013, it’s Visionist. Whether releasing music on the NYC based Lit-City Trax or the Berlin-based Leisure Systems, Visionist took every opportunity possible to spread the sound beyond London, all without diluting his style. This is an achievement worth mentioning in a year where far too many UK DJs and producers simply gave up and went House or Techno. Furthermore, apart from his own outstanding production, Visionist’s Lost Codes label proved to be a crucial outlet, releasing music by Acre, Bloom, Saga and Lolgurlz, connecting the dots with American producers at Fade 2 Mind. Quantity, quality and the vision (ahem) to take things further – Visionist ran tings in 2013.