Grime

The Guardian - G2 - - Re­views Music -

Artist Nov­el­ist Al­bum Nov­el­ist Guy La­bel MMMYeh ★★★☆☆

The true test of whether a scene has a life­span is to look at the new crop of tal­ent fol­low­ing the greats. Grime might have had a main­stream mo­ment, but what’s next? The an­swer for many fans comes in the form of 21-yearold Nov­el­ist, the south Lon­don MC who fondly bought us Lewisham McDeez as part of grime crew the Square, a ju­bi­lant homage to a lo­cal land­mark. This in­tro­spec­tive of­fer­ing takes us through his frus­tra­tions with in­dus­try ob­sta­cles, black mas­culin­ity and our cur­rent po­lit­i­cal mo­ment. At its best, with punchy tracks such as Afro Pick, he re­minds us that he’s not di­vorced from the young peo­ple you might be read­ing about in the news: “Afro pick in my hair / Look but I don’t rec­om­mend you stare

… I do what I do for the young youth from back in the day when I ran for the mayor,” touches on his brief stint as for­mer deputy young mayor of Lewisham. His po­lit­i­cally con­fronta­tional mo­ments are the best – on Stop Killing the Man­dem he fu­ri­ously re­peats the ti­tle, taken from a sign that went vi­ral when he held it up at a 2016 Black Lives Mat­ter protest in Lon­don, 16 times be­fore we even hear him rap. The pro­duc­tion too, can be a thrilling ex­er­cise in beat-spot­ting from an artist who pays his dues. Nov Wait Stop Wait pays homage to Re­bound X’s iconic Rhythm and Gash grime in­stru­men­tal, and the ra­dio skit (Nov B2B DeeCee) is a nos­tal­gic re­vis­it­ing of pi­rate ra­dio ses­sions, but there are points, such as on Gang­ster, when songs feel un­fin­ished, tak­ing a while to draw us in. Over­all, though, this is a con­fi­dent salute to a scene still rich in tal­ent. Kieran Yates

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