The unfortunately titled Grime 2, the second installment in Rephlex’s series focusing on the gritty, hip-hop-fused dance-floor beats emanating from East London, works well as a companion to the first edition, released in May last year. The three artists featured on Grime 2 — Kode 9, Loefah and the duo Digital Mystikz — flaunt finished products that differ quite a bit from what MarkOne, Plasticman, and Slaughter Mob put together for the first time around. Grime 2 brings grime’s dub and dance-floor sounds (as well as some other interesting facets) closer to the foreground, but it does so a little less harshly than its predecessor did.
On “Dislokated,” South London’s Kode 9 dresses up grime’s trademark deep jagged beat with high-hats and an occasional vocal loop. Kode 9 — a resident deejay at hot night Fwd>> at London’s Plastic People, a Rinse FM jock and the head of his own label, Hyperdub — reps the people behind grime’s overbearing beats rather than those who tackle mike duties, such as U.K. emcees Kano and Wiley. Like Kode 9’s four entries, the other beatmakers Loefah and Digital Mystikz on Grime 2 — each getting three tracks respectively — bring street cred as well as deliriously filthy beats to the comp.
On “Fire Elements” Loefah allows flutes and even some Wu-Tang-esque battle-type samples to float in over rapid beats and dub-style echo effects. He’s widely revered among grime’s audience for, in addition to his work with Digital Mystikz, “Horror Show,” a much-talked-about piece for its incorporation of horror-movie elements. He develops “Beat Them,” the comp’s seventh track, with just as much lunacy. It’s an intricate combination of hand drums over two-step and more flutes, applying his recorded work and gigs at Rinse and the End to dreary, interesting beat concoctions.
Digital Mystikz, comprised of Mala and Coki, often drop their spacious ventures on their own label, DMZ. Their tracks are characterized by distant metallic clinks and atmospheric urgency, and “CR7 Chamber,” Grime 2‘s closer, even has a little of what sounds like heavy breathing.
With fewer sharp edges, Grime 2 doesn’t quite rattle the earth the way its predecessor did. Still, it’s not tame by any stretch. And the songs here are still head and shoulders above most of the stuff that’s being cranked out on U.S. soil.