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Baker's Dozen

Burnt Ends: Slackk's Favourite Albums
Oli Marlow , October 2nd, 2014 13:46

The Liverpool-via-London grime producer and Boxed co-founder released his debut album, Palm Tree Fire, last month. Now, he talks Oli Marlow through his favourite records, taking in LPs, mixtapes, pirate radio sets and magazine cover-mounts. Slackk photograph courtesy of Mehdi Lacoste


Youngsta - Crystal Meth
I wanted to pick this kind of an album, but in fairness it could've been two or three. It could've been this or it could've been Giggs and Dubz's Ard Bodied, or Youngs Teflon - Call Of Duty or maybe to a lesser extent something by Joe Black or Joe Grind, but basically it's like the 'road rap' era, which has been and gone as far as I'm concerned. But there was a certain period around this time that was running parallel to funky in one sense. With all the funky stuff kicking off on one side it took all the lightness and the energy and the club dynamic away from grime. People like Perempay/Bossman went in that kind of direction but then you had the other side which was a perfect juxtaposition with the more Americanised beats and the more aggressive flow. In terms of grime, it went the complete opposite way but the road rap thing, for a couple of years was incredible! The amount of mixtapes that were coming out was really, really fucking great. But Youngsta's Crystal Meth was definitely top three and probably the best one that came out of that scene.

There are quite a few really strong UK beats on it as well. To me you can hear the quite dancehall sort of influence even though it's also kind of trap-influenced. But more than that it encapsulates an era in music that I listened to more than anything else. A really dark moody album that's also quite hard. I feel like at certain times it's a reflection of when Peckham was a bit more aggro and a bit more street as opposed to now when it's becoming a bit more… erm…


What a good word! Yeah, a bit more artisan. (Out to Oil Gang on that word). I was gonna say a bit more bohemian but yeah, put that. Yeah. Like back when you wouldn't have really caught artisan bakeries popping up on Rye Lane or whatever or arcade bars. So it's almost an end of an era for certain parts of Peckham and even though Youngsta isn't so much as indicative of that as PYGs or Killa Ki were, I think this is almost one of the last periods of real darkness in London music. Because if you look at the rap stuff, as much as it's going on now, it's not as violent as it was, whereas a lot of these raps were just 'I sell coke', 'I'll shoot ya'. And it's pathetic, but I do love that aspect of music. It's so dark.

Youngsta had some really incredible producers coming through at that time, because obviously I'm always looking at things from the production side, the likes of Boom Blast, Carns Hill (who was more affiliated with Youngs Teflon) or Soka Beats, to a lesser extent. There's lots of incredible, quite complex rap beats [on Crystal Meth] not like the generic Lex Luger trap stuff, it's more based on a vague dancehall influence and a vague London influence. You can hear bits of jungle in it, bits of grime even though they never really allowed you to say that about the music, as it was very much away from grime.

And like South London; as much as you had Essentials or Roadside Gs and all the On Top crew there's always been a more rap element to South as opposed to East or West or whatever. Or I felt so anyway. But you never saw this type of music getting any press attention and it was a lot better for it. For a good two or three years there were some really progressive beats coming out of that scene...