Here on Hidden Depths, we love to pick the brains of those who are at the forefront of the newest, most challenging sounds around, and Visionist just sent us tumbling down a grime worm-hole. With his releases on Lit City Trax (the double header I'm Fine releases cranking up the heat in recent months) and his own label Lost Codes (championing the likes of previous Hidden Depths contributor Dark0), Visionist's sound has been morphing into the kind of melancholy, brutal strands that are pulling grime along a curious new tandem. Since he's been piquing our interest so sharply, we hit him up to indulge in some of his favourite instrumentals from South London grime producers.
Davinche - "U Gotsta"
Davinche was known for creating most big tunes for the MC crew Essentials. His album on Dirty Canvas is one of my favourites, and he produced a lot of tunes for Kano's first album. This is one of his earliest tunes; one I actually missed only to discover few years ago on YouTube. I love the interchange of the sounds. It has a very much garage feel with the bleep hit, yet the rhythm hints towards grime and becomes a real unique characteristic in his later beats. Other, early tunes that come to mind that Davinche produced for Essentials are "Shut Down Shop" and '"Last Night."
Young Dot - "U Don't Wanna (Instrumental)"
Young Dot—now known Dot Rotten—is by far my favourite producer. He was so consistent, and could literally make any kind of style of grime, but you would still know its him. His earlier Young Dot days always brought beats with more energy.
I first heard this beat on Doctor's album Before Surgery, that I bought at Uptown Records. It was the instrumental for his track "Play Around." What drew me to the production by Dot was the catchiness of the synth melody, that backed with all the orchestral accompaniments make this a masterpiece. He even throws in a "b" section.
Kid D - "Down For You (Instrumental)"
Kid D was the king of RnG. His beats are so beautiful, and his sampling of vocals has been a big influence on my own work. At around the age of 16, my friend in Nottingham showed me his Myspace—also around the time Flukes had "Wifey Riddim"—but for me of this style Kid D shone.
The reason I like this tune so much is the vocal chops; way he blends the two octaves, and the quick, cut-up vocal lead into other vocal chops, which are constant features in a lot of his tunes. It never gets old for me. He also has a knack of creating various melody lines without it ever feeling cluttered. Every sound has its purpose and place. He also was the only producers who had a grime track on Wiley's last two more commercial albums, yet no one managed to pick that up. He's an incredible talent.
Ripperman - "Rubble (Instrumental)"
Alongside Mr Slash, Ripperman was a king when it came to the strings. I love how many different changes in melody the strings have in this tune. It was released on Adamantium Music in 2006.
A2 - "Grime Producers (Instrumental)"
A2 could of easily been part of this new generation of grime producers, as (I believe) he is younger then me. For me, his tunes were so ahead of their time. His melodies (again) are so good the top string line on this one, and his vocal play makes it so deep. A2 was another Myspace find. This track was on one of his many free beat mix CDs, though they were just released online as far as I know.
Striver - "Gash By Da Hour (Instrumental)"
Striver was part of Nu Brand Flexx alongside Darq E Freaker. There's not a lot on the internet to find of his, but his instrumentals were always hard and the little signature "aahh" is too cheeky. This tune is probably the most known of his, as was a big hit on grime TV station Channel U.
Viler Dee - "Roulette (Instrumental)"
Alongside side A2, Viler defiantly took a lot of influence from Dot Rotten, but again, like A2, he built his own sound from this. The drop on this tune is too much. The low flute hits after a piano intro is so unexpected. Musically, it features the choir sounds a lot of producers use today— again, showing how ahead of it's time these sounds were. It is way more melodically and technically intelligent then most grime talked about today.
Iron Soul - "Let Me (Instrumental)"
Like Kid D, Iron Soul liked to sample soul and R&B tunes. Underlying bass and sweep SFX are his signature. The "bang" sample is a MC called Brakeman, who was on the "Startrek Riddim," another classic. What I like about this tune is how the melody lines that follow the chops of the vocals are on top of loads of rolling notes in the bass line. I also like the way he lets the sample extend near the end of sections, leading into the next.
Mr Wong - "Long Road"
Many people might of thought of Mr Wong as a bit of a joke—and to be honest, a lot of his tunes did crack me up—but he wasn't a half-bad producer. His biggest tune was "Orchestra Boroughs." Most Mr Wong tunes I got were from Limewire—ha, like a lot of my grime collection before Myspace, I didn't know about vinyl culture those days.This tune is so unique. I love that flute and orchestral hit sound, which is one of the stock sounds in Fruity Loops, though I'm not sure he used it. This combined with clever spin back FX, and careful drum programming, make this tune interesting throughout.
Dreama - "War Report"
Finally we have Dreama; who was part of N Double A, the crew Big Narstie was in. His beats were always overly hype and energetic, and this instrumental was actually used for Dot Rotten's "Can't Diss Hoodstars" vocal, where he disses Wiley in great fashion. At the beginning it says rarity productions, which is actually a VSTI, though I can tell you not all the sounds are from this plugin. I spent a lot of time trying to find them when this first came out. I'd say this is definitely one of his best beats. The sweeping synth lines over held notes combine really well. It even has an outro switch, which is rare.
Visionist plays Camden Crawl in London on June 20th.