RECORDS
VOUCH: Slackk on Nasty Crew’s Seminal Studio Set
Posted by Oli Marlow on May 30, 2012

We’re in the business of recommendation round these parts. It’s absolutely and physically inherent to what to we do. It’s the way that over our combined lives we’ve found some of the best music and some of our most personally treasured albums – through word of mouth or an innocent tip off. We devote a lot of our time looking forward, so much so that we miss a big fraction of the opportunity to look back; to mine other people’s record collections or spend winter afternoons in the dusty back room of Record & Tape Exchange just sifting through records. In something of an attempt to correct our gaze, we’ve started asking artists to provide us with a recommendation. Be it one album, one artist, one track… or whatever sound it is that they feel inexplicably linked to.

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Knowing that Slackk is the borderline obsessive guy behind archival site Grimetapes, it’s easy to see where his motivation for his latest EP comes from. The Local Action housed Raw Missions EP feels like his most direct and grime influenced work to date. That’s probably way more of an interesting for someone like me who just likes to poke at people and then stand back and try to learn things, but the level of influence is obvious from the get go. The aptly named ‘Almost Transparent’ feels like a homage to eski, to Wiley and to tracks like ‘Ice Rink’ and ‘Morgue’ in the way it uses the same clicky percussion and interweaving synth flourishes to a similarly outlandish effect. Then there’s the brutish mid range stabs of ’90 Years’ that’s textbook grime; pure pent up energy shocking out into sporadic release over double hit snares.

There also sounds like there might be the same kind of influence on the remaining two tracks as there was on an early Joker (but then, I always compare everything to early Joker). Slackk’s work on ‘Fat City’ is an obvious port of call for HMS Similarity considering the vivid strokes of synth colour and his pitch bends but ‘Blue Sleet’ also has that primitively synthesized Mega Drive feel to it. I guess the most arresting difference in my belligerent comparison is in the beats though: where Joker primarily sticks with slow 140 Slackk pumps 4×4, goes r&b pace and just generally toys around with his drum work, welting it about the place with a real abandon.

Overall it’s a pretty learned EP, properly adept at what I assume it was aiming for: pushing Slackk’s penchant for the sounds he spent thousands of man hours collating radio rips of on his blog to the fore of his productions. It’s not really a surprise then that when we asked him to take part in our Vouch feature that he chose a grime set but still, there’s something so knowledgeable about the way he writes round it that makes me want to put a cushion on the floor, lay on my belly, prop my chin on my arms and wave my feet up to my head and back while he recites the history of grime as he sees it.

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NASTY Crew – Studio Set for La Cosa Nostra, 2003
Download (via Rapidshare)

It’s hard to say how many times I’ve listened to this CD really. It was recorded in 2003, I got someone I worked with to copy it for me in late 2004, and in the eight years that have passed there’s probably never been a moment that it’s left whatever hard drive/laptop I had before it, or ipod that I’ve subsequently lost (and a minidisc player too, I think). It’s incredible, really, and to me it’s probably the best representation of the start of grime, or certainly its nascent stages.

La Cosa Nostra was a grime and garage rave that I never went to; this was done as a promotional tool for it, and probably the best studio set from that era. I never went to any of the big iconic raves – Eskimo Dance, Sidewinder, Young Man Standing, Rumble – none of them. I regret that, I really do but I’m not sure how much a bald white Scouser might have stood out in one of them but that’s by the by. I’ve never owned a legitimate copy of this CD either, because it’s from a tape pack and I could never find anyone willing to sell me a copy. I still love it, though.

Nasty were basically just a load of people from the same area. They were basically kids when they were starting out – I’ve got a set from god knows when (late 2000, I’ve always assumed from the beats) where they’re spitting on garage and D Double E’s voice is just weird, slightly high-pitched. It’s where a lot of people in grime started out really; D Double, Kano, Ghetto, Jammer; even Dizzee Rascal was around Nasty before he ended up parring about with Wiley and getting stabbed in the arse in Ayia Napa. It’s a shame they imploded but that’s been covered in other places so I won’t go into it here; I don’t know enough about it and I’ll end up just repeating hearsay so whatever (see Marcus Nasty here – http://youtu.be/yZWPHJroBh0?t=3m15s).

Anyway, this set is Mak10 on decks with D Double E, Hyper & Stormin MCing. Mak10 is, to me, the best grime DJ there ever was. Slimzee had a brilliant selection and obviously his affiliation with Wiley & Dizzee helps further his status etc, but in terms of mixing and selection, Mak10 was unparalleled. There are a couple of bits on this set that are just mad really – I’ve played sets out with MCs before and to be able to make it sound as effortless as he does certainly isn’t easy.

It does help, though, that he’s got two of the best MCs that England’s ever had on the set. Stormin is alright and he doesn’t come across badly here but in comparison to D Double E & Hyper, he’s outclassed.
You should know about D Double anyway, but I’ve always thought it was a crying shame that Hyper never really carried on to any great degree. For the most part he only really exists now in a musical sense as the dubplate that Spyro never tires of playing (to be fair, I wouldn’t either, if I had it). He really is commanding on this set, though, as he always has been; there are the type of MCs who you can forget as quickly as it takes them to pass the mic to someone else on a set, but you could never say that about Hyper.

Obviously, though, the selection is equally as important as the MC on something like this and it’s a barrage of incredible dubs both unreleased and not. There’s an oriental sounding Geeneus tune on Track 8 (& Track 9) that I always thought was called ‘Genie’ – it isn’t, that’s just what Slimzee used to call it – that’s never been released and has never leaked. It’s one of a few beats on this CD like that. Where else would you get to hear D Double E spit over a devil mix of ‘Ice Rink’ without a massive pocket of radio static clouding it? (NB- I do love a bit of radio static)

Really, it’s a shame that Nasty ended because I think a lot of people like to perpetuate the idea that grime all began with Wiley and Roll Deep and it’s not really the case at all; it’s part of a much bigger picture and framework and Nasty were, to me, the best of the lot. I used to run grimetapes.com before I lost the domain to some sad bastard who tried to sell it to me for £300. For the site I used to do these little compilations of my favourite MCs or moments from sets. I started the Nasty one and never finished it cause I couldn’t whittle it down. It’s almost 2 hours long and I’d barely gone through half my Nasty sets making it, so I just gave up. Unless you want to start rooting through hours and hours of increasingly poor bitrate radio sets, I think this is the best example of them as a crew.

I just wish I had an actual copy…

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Slackk’s Raw Missions is out now on Local Action.