BY JAMES ROWLAND//
I’ve been struggling to find a city with a music scene that rivals the breadth, originality and diversity of London’s. This is in large part due to a willingness to incorporate international influences– ranging from Atlanta trap to Nigeria’s afrobeat scene– which makes for a fresh fusion of different genres. The impact of London’s sound has been seen recently on various US projects, from Drake’s 2017 LP ‘More Life’ to the beats of Pop Smoke and the global drill scene. Yet this originality is perhaps best exemplified in the city’s up and coming artists- whether they have already caught some global attention or if they’re sure to make an impact in the very near future. Here’s 4 different projects from the last two years that best demonstrate the unique sounds of the city, and prove that London’s range of sounds is unmatched.
“Why Mellow? Why do they call you mellow?”
This question from the producer tag of “SSS” perfectly exemplifies the shift in dynamic KwolleM offers for grime on c2c. While the genre is traditionally fast paced and attached to an aggressive beat, KwolleM keeps the quick tempo and sharp lyricism but instead uses more laidback beats. This project is part of a larger movement that is forming out of the traditional grime sound – known as mellow grime – which peaked in the 2000s and has gradually been declining in popularity. This new take on the genre is a breadth of fresh air that KwolleM is more than qualified to lead – as an already well-established figure in both the music and fashion industry, with connections to Skepta and the late Virgil Abloh.
The opening song, “Daydream” starts with an illusory noise, quickly establishing the theme of the record by sonically transporting you to the beginning of a dream. BXBS utilizes her skillful lyricism throughout the project, offering reflective passages as she details life events akin to how one may ponder their thoughts whilst drifting off to sleep. The project’s through line of daydreaming is also heightened by the video game-esque production. BXBS raps over beats that layer the project with a soothing sense of peace and fulfilment.
Nia Archives has amassed a strong, dedicated following since she began uploading to Spotify just over two years ago. The multiple sources she pulls from to craft her style makes for a sporadic and chaotic sound perfectly encapsulated through the cover of the project. The electronic feel – inspired by UK house and garage scenes– and jazz inspirations creates a distinct jumpy atmosphere to dance to. It’s clear that Nia’s talent and musical range makes her palatable for various audiences.
Venna sets the tone for the album with the saxophone laced opening song, “Aroma“. The 6-song track list carries a calm and peaceful atmosphere as Venna explores a range of emotions from the reflective and somber “Sun, Moon & Herbs” to the energetic “Standard“. Across the project the producer displays his ability to engage with a number of different sounds, resulting in a varied and diverse album. While the South London rapper and woodwind played has assisted world renowned artists like Beyonce, Burna Boy and Wizkid with his pipes, the three purely instrumental songs best showcase his skill on saxophone. Those who are fans of producers like Knxledge should listen to this project- over great beats Venna puts his unique talents on full display.