Saturday, February 28, 2015

garage rap # 15

Seem to recall that Matthew Ingram, aka the Man Like Woebot, was a big fan of this tune - "Bounce" by Robloe & Kin featuring Nor-T Jack Fever. 

Indeed at one point, before grime had established itself as the Name, Matt proposed UK Bounce as potential genre tag. 

Although I think that was more to suggest the parallel between garage rap/grime-to-be and what was going on with Dirty South rap at the time (remember New Orleans bounce?). 

Like Laid Blak, another of those delightful one-shot oddities scattered by the nuum in its relentless ▻▻ motion (doesn't appear that Nor-T Jack Fever ever did anything else...)

"Bounce" placed at # 23 in the Blissblog Fave Singles of 2002. 

Here's what I said about it: 

ROBLOE & KIN featuring NOR-T JACK FEVER --“Bounce” (Locked On) 

In the gibbering-loon-on-the-mic tradition of Busta Rhymes,
Slarta John and ragga deejays too numerous to list,
the preposterously named Nor-T Jack Fever rides 
a limb-dislocating, wildly bucking robo-rodeo groove
somewhere at the intersection of garage, dancehall,
and Miami bass. Oddly the overall effect isn’t
comic but faintly disturbing. 

Here's the Break Dis mix - a bit breaksteppy, as you can imagine.

Friday, February 27, 2015

garage rap # 14

Going forward these posts will increasingly stray into a zone where tracks contain not rapping so much as an element of non-sung or semi-sung vocal. This tune by Laid Blak is a good example:  less a case of "garage rap" and more what used to be called "singjay" - the vocalist sliding smoothly and sweetly back and forth between melody and chat.  

"Scream and Shout" reached #4 in the Blissblog Faves of 2002, a high-rising late entry. Not sure it quite deserves such a high placing, but it's still a charmer.


Here's what I said about it then:

LAID BLAK – “Scream & Shout” (Moist) 

It’s not all darker-than-thou UK gangsta menace, this garage rap biznizz. All kinds of voices—playful, humorous, downright affable—can seize this moment. There’s room for Busta Rhymes dementia (see Robloe & Kin featuring Nor-T Jack Fever’s “Bounce”....), for Shaggy-style comic loverman braggadochio, for Barrington Levy-like tender charm. Flitting between the last two modes, here’s Bristol crew Laid Blak and this overlooked gem of a tune, which is about as far from garage rap’s customary skrewface as possible. The bit where a tipsy-sounding Mc Joe Peng mumbles mawkishly “he is a nice and decent fellow, I am a nice and decent fellow, we’re all nice and decent fellows” might be my favorite vocal moment of the year. He’s such an amiable sort he can even get away with a move-on-up positivity sermon without making you cringe: “I don’t mean to make you paro/but what about tomorrow?/If we continue with this way of life we’re heading for pure sorrow/And what about our children?/What future have we gave them?/Enjoy it now ‘cos when it’s gone expect a little mayhem/I’m talking to my brethren/I’m talking to my sistren/It’s time for us to pick up the fight ‘cos we want our children to live right.” The jaunty “Original Vocal Mix” is the one to go for, reminding me slightly of prime Madness, but the more garagey DJ Lewi Dirty Vocal Mix is also good. 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

garage rap # 13

The G in N'n'G is producer Grant Nelson, who's pretty much the hardcore continuum incarnate: started out making banging rave tunes at the start of the 90s under the name Wishdokta for Kickin' (also produced Xenophobia's "Rush In the House" - ardkore + rap - courtesy of one MC Scallywag), followed its logic through to happy hardcore and 2step. But in parallel with the early 90s ardkore Nelson was also already making garage tunes, long before "speed" got affixed at the front.

Under his own name, Nelson released  1998's slinky-yet-slamming "Step 2 Me" - best in this auto-remix by alter ego Bump 'n' Flex. But GN's entrance to the UKG Pantheon really comes with 1999's "Liferide", his collaboration with Norris Windross (the N in N'n'G).  It's a classic plinky xylo-bass groove over which Soul II Soul's  Rose Windross (sister of Norris) sprinkles her angel dust and MC don Creed spins out dizzyingly assonance-thick rhymes in his trademark clipped’n’prim style. 

Strange and marvelous how something so compressed and inhibited-sounding is so cool. But what's really notable about "Liferide" is that Creed is rapping proper verses - it's no longer about a few catchphrases. Although nothing could be less grimy than "Liferide" - all criss gloss and dainty swing - this is a step on the road to grime. 

Bonus bump - 

with MC niceness this time from Neat

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

garage rap # 12

Perhaps not a Hall-of-Fame track but tasty - snappy-snare 2step click-clacking away crissly underneath, courtesy the mighty Teebone -  Skibadee doing that spelling-out-the-letters thing in a tongue-twisty Moebius strip pretzel of sidewinder siblilance.

Picked this up in Honest Jon's on Portobello.... Really not expecting to find any UKG there, just typical West London biznizzzzzzzzzz...   A very pleasant surprise.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

garage rap # 11

Not rated by many cognoscenti, at all - but strip away the novelty elements (the Casualty theme, the Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels sample) and as beats and bass this tune is tough and mean, clean and cold. And Neutrino's MCing is mad catchy in its nasal, borderline-irritant way. 

A rival contender with "Oi!" for the first grime tune. 

Which is why I included "Bound 4 Da Reload" in The Grime Primer:

So Solid affiliates DJ Oxide and MC Neutrino also scored a #1 UK hit with “Bound 4 Da Reload”. Initially a pirate radio anthem through 1999, “Reload” created a massive rift in the garage scene: older types loathed it, young ‘uns loved it. Today’s grime heads would probably disown their teenage favorite as a mere novelty track. Which it certainly was, from theCasualty TV theme sample to the “can everyone stop getting shot?” soundbite from Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. Gimmicks aside, Oxide’s production is heavy, from the ice-stab pizzicato violins (“strings of death,” perhaps, given the track’s allusions to the rising blood-tide of violence on London’s streets) to the doom-boom of sub-bass to the morgue-chilly echo swathing much of the record. Probably equally repellent to 2step fans was the nagging, nasal insistence of Neutrino’s rapping, which is remorselessly unmelodic but horribly catchy. Instantly transforming 2step from “the sound of now” to its current nostalgia-night status as “old skool,” “Reload” has strong claims to being the first Grime tune. 

Mark Fisher memorably celebrated the follow-up  hit "Up Middle Finger" and Oxide & Neutrino's debut Execute as punk garage

"Oxide and Neutrino’s Up Middle Finger is as important for 01 as the Pistols’ Anarchy in the UK was in 76. Like Anarchy, Up Middle Finger is both a call to arms and an darkly exuberant gesture of joyful defiance....
Up Middle Finger captures a mood, a growing undercurrent of rage in the country about the discrepancy between the sunny vistas projected by managerialist PRopoganda and the webs of corrruption and incompetence that are lived everyday reality. Neutrino’s fury will resonate with anyone who has the misfortune to have tangled with Style London’s sad coterie of promoters, PR zombies and A and R people. But, more generally, his invective also speaks to and for anyone who has been blocked and patronized by the complacency and arrogance of all the bullet-pointed, empty-headed drones who officiate in the blurry liar lair of Blair’s Britain. Neutrino brings back an edge, an aggression, that has been lacking for too long in a British culture that has seemed to pride itself on its tolerance of mediocrity."

This was during a brief period when the Man like Kpunk wrote under the name Mark De'Rosario. And the piece was for Hyperdub back when it was a webzine rather than a label. Indeed now I think about it, the site was a right treasury of writings on garage rap (as well as proto-dubstep). Pieces on Pay As U Go Kartel, Ms Dynamite, an interview with Oxide & Neutrino, etc - and contributions from Mark, Kodwo Eshun, Bat, concept-engineer-in-chief Steve Goodman, Martin Clark, myself, and others.  The original site no longer exists but happily the pieces are archived at 

More singles by Oxide & Neutrino:

Monday, February 23, 2015

garage rap # 10

Sticking with the Cockney theme...   "Millennium Twist" by Shy Cookie & DJ Luck featuring Spee and Sweetie Irie, off The Warm Up EP  from 1998.

( + "K.O." by DJ Luck & Shy Cookie featuring MC Neat and Spee - I recorded the whole second side of the EP as one track on The History of Garage Rap Volume One)

Slightly different version of "Millennium Twist" (I prefer the first)

On my copy of  The Warm Up EP, the track is definitely titled "Millenium Twist" not "Oliver Twist"

Middlerow was a prolific UKG label.

Got no recollection of the two A-side tracks on this 4-track EP - Ed Case & Holy H featuring Spee and Sweetie Irie's "Holy Morning"; Ed Case featuring JJ's "Right Time".

But on the flipside, B1 "Millennium Twist" is an undying fave. One of the first proper narrative tunes in garage rap: Shy Cookie, Sweetie Irie and Spee reinvent the Englishness of canonical literature and costume drama with a hilarious slice of Dickensian dancehall, starring an updated Fagin from Oliver! instructing modern urchins how to duck 'n' dive Y2K style.

Wonder if they got the idea from 2step's top production team being called The Artful Dodger?

And then B2,  "K.O." - the promised reappearance of MC Neat, accompanied by Shy Cookie and Spee and DJ Luck. Here the extended lyrical conceit (MC-versus-MC as boxing ring battle) doesn't quite come off, but the track is another of those loveable oddities that the nuum, especially the MC end of it, throws up.

Friday, February 20, 2015

garage rap # 9

Not really rap -  not unless we're taking seriously Ian Dury's facetious claim to have invented rap with "Reasons To Be Cheerful, Part 3".

House 'n G meets Chas N' D.

Or dancehall meets music hall.

"Clipper" is of nuumological interest on account of

i/ its thematic echo of

ii/ its interpolations (not samples) from

iii/ its sideways nods to Jamaica, viz

Ratpack put out a lot of records, but "Rizla" is the only one I'm familiar with

And there are a lot of different mixes of "Clipper" but the one at the top is the one I really like.

This one is Nookie-fondling junglizm -

This one is sort of jazzy 2step, or midtempo jungle -

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

garage rap # 8

More garage rap hitmakers - DJ Luck and MC Neat. 

From 1999, "A Little Bit of Luck" is closer to talkover / singjay than rapping, featuring a pretty meagre amount of words compared with the prolixity of grime-to-come. But this was the beginning of MC-fronted UKG that actually said something - in this case, I-and-I survive (“with a little bit of luck we can make it through the night”) doubling as a big-up to his selector. Who here contributes a somewhat perfunctory loping groove. over which Neat croons a naggingly catchy rootical-flavored vocal lick. This tune was massive on the pirates - I remember someone telling me they heard  one station play "A Little Bit of Luck" over and over again for a full half-hour - and then made the Top 10 in January 2000.

Luck & Neat had three further large hits - the Stevie Wonder-copping "Masterblaster 2000" (#5), "Ain't No Stopping Us" (#8), and "Piano Loco" (#12) - all of which I remember only as unmemorable.

My favorite MC Neat moment on vinyl, though, is not in tandem with the estimable DJ Luck but on the Corrupted Cru track "G.A.R.A.G.E."  Love his big boomy baritone - classic example of the commanding, leisurely warmth  of your classic UKG  MC (see also Creed, PSG et al), whose job is to host the party rather than dazzle with frenetic flurries of viciously honed threats and boasts.   Love also (sorry Matthew) the spelling routine - "E / the energy to rinse it out" etc.

Now is that "wrapping it around the room" or "rapping it around the room"?

MC Neat will make another appearance later on in tandem with a different UKG collective. But he also did another track with Corrupted Cru - "Reminisce" - which is pleasant enough but no "G.A.R.A.G.E."

Sunday, February 15, 2015

garage rap # 7

Fact is, "garage rap" scored way more chart hits than grime ever did.

Including three number ones, which we'll get to in due course.

(In that sense the subject of the previous post in this series, "Oi!", was garage rap's last blast, immediately followed by a long period of grime in exile, apart from Dizzee's incursions into the outer regions of the UK chart.)

But then garage rap wasn't really a distinct entity, a phase or genre, but a subset of 2step, a flavour of UKG. Its success came as a byproduct of 2step's utter anschluss of  the UK mainstream.

Viz, Genius Cru - in the first rank of the swarming crus (and krus) of those marvellous days -  who scored not one hit but two.

First, the immortal "Boom Selection"

Here's the full-length version

And then Genius made the top 40 one more time with the delightful "Course Bruv".

Here's what I said about "Course Bruv" in the Grime Primer -

(KRONIK 2001)

The gangsta rap comparison isn’t an idle one. PAUG and Roll Deep pioneered criminal-minded lyrics. Taking them literally is not always advisable, as the imagery of “slewing” and “merking” is often purely metaphorical, signifying the destruction of rival MCs in verbal combat, the maiming of egos rather than bodies. Still, the genre wasn’t always so relentlessly hostile. Just before the grimy era, “garage rap” outfits like Heartless Crew and Genius Cru exuded playful bonhomie. The follow-up to their #12 pop hit “Boom Selection,” Genius’ “Course Bruv” talks about spreading “nuff love” in the club and stresses that they “still don’t wanna hurt nobody.” The chorus even celebrates the rave-era ritual of sharing your soft drinks with complete strangers, the “course bruv” being Genius’s gracious acquiescence to “can I have a sip of that?” Producer Capone weaves an effervescent merry-go-round groove of chiming bass-melody and giddy looped strings, while the MCs hypnotize with the sheer bubbling fluidity of their chat. The verses are deliberately preposterous playa wish-fulfillment: “Number one breadwinner” Keflon claims he’s “invested in many shares, many many stocks” while Fizzy purports to date “celeb chicks,” “ballerinas” and even have “hot chicks as my household cleaners”.

Placed "Course Bruv" at #10 in my Faves of 2002, even though it came out near the end of the previous year. 

It's a slim discography, Genius Cru's - I wonder if the Angel EP is any cop?

This one isn't even listed on Discogs. A not wholly convincing - or welcome - attempt to tuffen the image, gangsta it up...

mouth music (2015 style)

Forced Exposure press release:

Sintetizzatrice is the first recorded document of the collaboration between veteran DJ and producer Donato Dozzy and female vocalist Anna Caragnano. Through his solo work, and in his collaboration with Giuseppe Tilleci (Neel) as Voices from the Lake, Dozzy has achieved some of the most remarkable vistas contemporary electronic music has seen since the turn of this century. By removing himself from his areas of mastery to shift his focus on the voice, he has achieved a new peak with Sintetizzatrice. Over nine tracks, Dozzy works exclusively with the voice of Rome-based vocalist Anna Caragnano, with no other instruments. Heavy layering and effects processes are used to display an astoundingly versatile voice-centric vocabulary. Rarely can a record morph from R&B to kosmische, through traditional Italian folk music, to Fluxus styles and traditional chamber choir with no additional instrumentation. Just a singular, beautiful voice. The results are simply phenomenal. With the opening, "Introduzione," an immeasurable cosmic weight arrives and remains through the duration of the album. "Star Cloud" ascends with melancholy extended drones that evaporate concepts like time and being, rendering basic human perceptions void all the way through "Parallelo." "Parola" dances around the stereo field with dazing rhythms and melodies, while "Festa (A Mottola)" is an homage to the traditional music found in the rural region where, coincidentally, both Dozzy's mother and Caragnano were born and raised. The album's closing pieces "Love Without Sound" and "Conclusione" hit hard in a way to which no words can do justice. By fearlessly entering uncharted territories, Dozzy and Caragnano have made a collaboration which is truly experimental. Sintetizzatrice is a grand debut for Anna Caragnano and a fantastic twist for Donato Dozzy. Produced and mixed by Dozzy at Alaska Studio, Rome, in 2014. Mastered by Giuseppe Tilleci at EnissLab Studio, Rome. Transferred to tape by Pietro Micioni, Angelo Compagnoni, and Massimo Zuccaroli at Village Studio, Rome. Cut by Christoph Grote-Beverborg at Dubplates & Mastering, Berlin. Front cover painting by Angela Scaramuzzi. Cover design by Koto Hirai.

mouth music (and you don't stop)

mouth music (back from the dead)

Monday, February 09, 2015

garage rap # 6

Reading Popular in the last few years of its output, I've often had cause to reflect that it's quite fortunate I ended up living in America for most of the Nineties.

I was reminded of this most recently by Tom Ewing's (very interesting) entry on Manic Street Preachers's "The Masses Against the Classes". Not only was I unaware that this song got to Number One, I was unaware that this song even existed.

Overall, it's worked out very well for me, being an expatriate. For instance, I have never knowingly heard Westlife. I think I've only heard one song by Travis and Catatonia each, and then only once.

But there are downsides.

Obviously American pop culture generates its own unique shite. I could have done without the nu-metal.

But mostly I regret missing out on the whole 2step takeover of UK pop moment. The years when the garage nation went nationwide.

I knew it was going on, of course. Bought most of the cash-in comps that came out. Caught glimpses on visits back to the motherland. Wrote a couple of reported features on it for US music magazines.  But as a week by week experience, I missed it: Top of The Pops appearances and kids TV music shows on Saturday morning, Artful Dodger on Radio One, hearing Architechs or "Flowers" in clothes shops or coming out of passing cars.  The mundane-ification of an underground sound as it goes overground.

I mentioned a while back that I was unaware just how many UKG and garage rap acts had dodgy, now-dated-yet-vibey promo videos made.

However I did manage to catch two great UKG-on-TV moments. Possibly I was in the country at the right time. There was also a short period when  BBC America was showing episodes of Top of the Pops.

One such UKG-on-TV moment was Truesteppers featuring Victoria Beckham doing "Out of Your Mind". Jonny L and Posh Spice on Top of the Pops together!

And the other was More Fire Crew and "Oi!". That one I did catch on BBC America.

At the time I felt that it was possibly the most jarringly avant intrusion into the UK pop mainstream since PiL doing "Death Disco" and "Flowers of Romance" on TOTP. The most aggressive sound-assault since Killing Joke's "Empire Song" on the same programme. The rawest roar since Angelic Upstarts playing "Teenage Warning" live in the TOTP studio.

There's a tiny slice of that More Fire appearance  at around 2.20 in this digest that somebloke's made out of  that particular TOTP episode - pirate radio glory sandwiched between revolting wedges of Britshit.

The proper credit is Platinum 45 featuring More Fire Crew, and credit is most definitely due to the Platinum man for the beat, which pummels like jump-up jungle at its toughest.

But the harsh jabber of the Lethal B, Ozzie and Neko is just as abrasive.

It's not really "garage rap", because the music isn't UK garage -- but then  by 2002 UKG  didn't sound like garage.  With tunes like So Solid's "Dilemma" and Deekline's "I Don't Smoke", house and R&B were getting displaced by electro and breakbeat as the engine of the music.

"Oi!" is arguably the first grime tune.


Here's what I said about "Oi!" in The Grime Primer

Platinum 45 featuring More Fire
Go Beat 2002
Pirate radio culture evolves in small increments, month by month. The onset of one genre or sub-flava overlaps with the twilight of its predecessor. There are rarely clean breaks. Still, every so often a track comes along that yells "IT'S THE NEW STYLE!!!!" in your face. "Oi!" was one of them. Drawing on the most anti-pop, street vanguard elements in black music history - ragga's twitch 'n' lurch, electro's (f)rigidity, jump-up Jungle's bruising bass-blows -producer Platinum 45 created a most unlikely #7 hit. Factor in the barely-decipherable jabber of More Fire's Lethal B, Ozzie B, and Neeko, and the result was one of the most abrasively alien Top Of The Pops appearances ever. The tune's pogo-like hard-bounce bass and uncouth Cockney-goes-ragga chants mean that "Oi!" has more in common with Cockney Rejects-style punk than you'd imagine. "Oi!", then - Grime's biggest hit to date, before the genre even had a name.

Incredible as it may now seem, "Oi!" got to Number 7.

More Fire couldn't repeat that success and the album was, commercially at least. a bust. (Here's what I said about it at the time).

Amazingly, Lethal B(izzle) would do a Lazarus and in 2005 score grime's other biggest hit (meaning grime as in raw uncut grime rather than pop-dilute form) with "Pow". Followed by a solo debut LP that like the More Fire LP fizzled.

And it seems - I hadn't noticed, living on the wrong side of the Atlantic - that in the last two or three years he's bumrushed the UK Top 40 a bunch more times. Amazing never-say-die stamina, that man.  

Saturday, February 07, 2015

garage rap # 5

Foundation tune.

Never heard this remix before.

And the instrumental

Here's a little thing I wrote in my Unfaves of 2000, written in early 2001. It starts out complaining about breakstep, a UKG strand/phase I found dreary, but then switches to identifying a sign of nuum life and a new direction: the emergence of garage rap as a separate genre rather than an occasional format within UKG, what in time would become grime:

... Generally [breakbeat garage] sounds too much like jungle minus the extra b.p.m speed-rush, hardcore without the E-fired euphoria. Or worse like nu-skool breaks... 
That said, the last batch of pirate tapes I got, showed signs of a new twist in this breakstep (or whatever they're calling it) direction: not so much jungle-slowed-down, and more like a post-rave, drum'n'bass influenced form of English rap. 

On these spring 2001 pirate tapes, there's hardly any R&B diva tunes, and every other track features very Lunndunn-sounding MCs or ragga-flavored vocals, over caustic acid-riffs and techsteppy sounds, like some latterday Dillinja production. Unlike with techstep or recent d&b, there's very little distorto-blare in the production, there's this typically 2step clipped, costive feel, an almost prim and dainty quality to the aggression-- a weird combo of nasty and neat-freak. 

Lyrically, the vibe seems to be similarly pinched in spirit, a harsh, bleak worldview shaped subconsciously by the crumbling infrastructural reality beneath New Labour's fake grin; UKG seems to be already transforming itself from boom-time music to recession blues. The Englishness of the vocals reminds me of 3 Wizemen Men and that perpetual false-dawn for UK rap.

Lots of killer tunes I can't identify, but one in particular stood out that I could: "Know We" by Pay As U Go Kartel. 

As I say, quite mean-minded and loveless music but sonically very exciting-- a new twist if not quite paradigm shift from the hardcore continuum.

And here's what I wrote about "Know We" (and Roll Deep's "Terrible") for the Grime Primer in The Wire, 2005:

Pay As U Go Kartel
"Know We"
Solid City 2001
Wiley and Roll Deep
Solid City 2001
Circulating on dubplate as early as 1999, "Know We" was in constant pirate rotation by the time of its 2001 release, alongside chip-off-the-same-block track "Terrible". Both are back to basics affairs: simple programmed beats, in each case adorned with the solitary hook of a violin flourish, functioning purely as a vehicle for the MCs. Another striking shared characteristic is the use of the first person plural. Each MC bigs up himself when it's his turn on the mic, but at the chorus individualism is subsumed in a collective thrust for prestige. "Now we're going on terrible," promise/threaten Roll Deep, and they don't mean they're about to give a weak performance. 'Roll deep' itself means marauding around town as a mob. But there's a hint of precariousness to Pay As U Go's assertions of universal renown. The sense of grandeur is latent; they're not stars yet. What does come through loud and clear on both tracks is the hunger. "Terrible" starts with a Puff Daddy soundbite: "sometimes I don't think you motherfuckers understand where I'm coming from, where I'm trying to get to." Both the PAUG and Roll Deep tracks were produced by a young prodigy named Wiley, whose catchphrase back then was "they call me William/I'm gonna make a million". Roll Deep are Grime's NWA (its ranks have included such luminaries as Dizzee Rascal, Riko, Flow Dan, Trim, and Danny Weed), with Wiley as its Dr Dre. If he's yet to make that first million, this human dynamo must surely have released close to that number of tracks these last four years.

Thursday, February 05, 2015

garage rap #4

Never been sure how to credit "Fly Bi" - on one of my store-bought garage CD compilations it's listed as TSK. Most elsewhere it's Teebone featuring Sparks & Kie.

Now would you believe, backintheday your Man like Woebot opined on TWANBOC  that he didn't rate "Fly Bi". Thought the S the P the A the R the K the S etc spelling rhymes were cheesy or something.

Love it to the B the O the N the E, myself.  Simply adore the MC duo's combination of bouncy boisterousness and ungainly bulk  - like a pair of hefty bouncers having a bash at breakdancing.

Teebone brings the ruckus too.

Prefer the "Fly Bi" posted at the top, but this version - which sounds like it was plucked out of a DJ-mixed UKG compilation and affixed over the official promo video ("Gabriel" creeps into the mix near the end) - is good in its own way.

Monday, February 02, 2015

garage rap # 3

Everybody remembers "Bouncing Flow", right?

More entertaining than Illmatic. Dearer to me than any Wu-Tang album.

But who knows this one?

Certainly as good as anything The Lox ever did.

(Well except maybe this).

Love the gymnastic / acrobatic flow, especially -

tight when i spit
we drop hits
like shits
in toilets
K2 legit
flip scripts
cause an eclipse
K2 floss with the biggest whips

and the whole set of rhymes - humble, tumble etc - leading up to

when i let go of this mic
it will crumble
... crumble

Like GK Allstars's "Garage Feeling", first heard "Danger" on the Garage Rap Vol. 1 compilation

Which I picked as my #2 album of 2002, not because it's solid gold (far from it) but because of the collision between the intense excitement I felt about the Genre Yet To Be Named Grime and the immense difficulty that an expatriate faced in terms of getting hold of the stuff.

Here's what I said about the comp at the time...

VARIOUS ARTISTS Garage Rap, Vol. 1 (Eastside) 
In 18 months or so, UKG’s gone from having an absolute flood of compilations (circa 2step’s chartpop crossover zenith, with most of the comps redundantly overlapping and stuffed with the same annoyingly obvious choices) to the present situation where there’s almost no comps whatsoever. Exactly the same thing happened with hardcore in 1991-92: just as the singles chart was over-run with rave anthems, there was a deluge of ravesploitation comps with titles like Bangin’ and Rush Hour. When the music went dark and the hits abruptly dried up, suddenly the comps vanished--just at the point when the music was getting really interesting, really twisted, really in need of compiling. UK garage likewise is in dire need of compilations right now because unless you are involved in this music as “a way of life”, unless you are going to the specialist shops (and while London has dozens of them, some conveniently central like Blackmarket and Uptown in D’Arblay Street, and others scattered across Greater London, the rest of the UK/world is fucked, basically—Juno and other mail-order companies notwithstanding), and going on a weekly basis, you’re going to miss some amazing tunes. Tunes that in years to come will be as highly sought after as the darkcore and early jungle tunes that now sell to collectors for anywhere from 15 to 200 quid. 

As far as I’m aware, there’s just two comps dedicated to MC-fronted garage (So Solid’s Fuck It, while excellent, doesn’t count ‘cos it has instrumentals and R&B-flavored 2step songs in its mix) and by far the superior of these two is Garage Rap, Vol. 1Despite its being heavily advertised on the pirates, I had to hunt the fucker down; none of the megastores or Our Price type chains stocked it. Eventually I found one in an urban music store on Ladbroke Grove. This must reflect the fact that (as with darkside in ’93) most people into this music buy it on 12 inch the week it comes out (or just tape specific shows off the pirates), and as yet there’s hardly any scene outsiders who want this music in pre-sifted, dilettante-friendly form. Or at least that is the perception on the part of retailers and the music business. Which is a pretty weird state of affairs only a year after So Solid Crew went #1 in the singles charts and sold nigh on half-a-mill copies of their debut album, but there you go. 

The comp? It’s got GK Allstars’ “Garage Feeling”, my #5 single of 2002. It’s got 2001 classics from Pay As U Go and Wiley & Roll Deep, “Know We” and “Terrible” respectively—both chips off the same block of string-swept, regal grandeur. I’m not sure if I can express exactly why the latter’s couplet “All I know is thugs and criminals/My style is quite explainable” gives me a tingle every time I hear it. It’s got something to do with the way the language and phrasing of all these garridge emcees is being pulled in three directions at once---Jamaica, B-boy America, and then underlying/undercutting everything there’s this inescapable, bathos-heavy Englishness, a dank and shabby smallness of spirit that deflates the self-aggrandisement. It’s the way “quite explainable” immediately cramps the gangsta-ragga swagger. 

Garage Rap also has great tunes like Dem Lott’s “Dem Lott Is Ere Now,” Twisted Souls’s So Solid-cloning “Roll and Ride”, and K2 Family’s “Danger” (killer lines, which again only work in a pinched London accent: “tight when I spit/we drop hits like shits/in toilets”). Overall, like an above-average-but-not-quite-outstanding session on the pirates, this comp has that curious power of all genres based around scenius rather than genius: the cumulative power of its changing-same-yness, where genericity becomes a positive aesthetic force. You love it, can’t get enough of it, want more of the same-only-slight-different.