Music Reviews

Artist: East Man
Title: Red White & Zero
Format: CD & Vinyl
Label: Planet Mu
East Man calls this blend “Hi Tek”. It’s hard grime, with the uptempo hip-hop grooves and the rapid-fire MC’s, but sonically it’s built out of techno and hardcore sounds- seriously distorted bass gutpunches, heavy and complex drum patterns, and edgy acidic electronica noises. Everything’s turned up to 11 and it just oozes angry attitude.

Although the album’s written introduction, from academic Paul Gilroy, makes big political points about London’s disaffected youth, as is all too usual a few too many of the MC’s resort to basic bragging, threats and talking themselves up rather than hitting anything thought-provoking. The most notable lines come from Darkos Strife. Daftest lyric award has to go to Lyrical Strally for “Pardew, like Alan”, with Kwam’s dropping William Hague references a close second.

Tracks without MC’s, like “Stratford”, instead use spoken-word samples as mantras while bringing the moodier side of the music to the fore. “Drapesing” is a notable interlude, taking long samples from a documentary about urban life over a harsher and more ambient musical setting. The military tone of last track “And What” takes the album out with a bang.

It’s a relentless and raw 38 minute assault from the fresh side of grime, with enough electronica tweaks and twerks to make it a natural fit for Planet Mu. So, it seems grime isn’t utterly sold out to national radio after all.

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