Monday, 6 April 2009

Newham Generals - Generally Speaking (Dirtee Stank/XL 2009)

The first release on Dizzee Rascal’s label Dirtee Stank new imprint is a powerhouse juggernaut, a military assault,a black ops mission, violent, uncomprising and lacking in any subtlety with its ferocity and its shuddering dirty disgusting beats. As Dizzee has softened with each album, focusing more on his songwriting and less on the aural violence, his cohorts, Newham Generals have been beavering away keeping things unpolished. Lead single ‘Heads Get Mangled’ with its perilous ‘only a doctor can save your arse’ refrain is a hard-hitting drum’n’bass trip down clubbing memory lane, nostalgic and violence in the way jungles were back in the day. Sidenote- are they old enough to remember? ‘Pepper’ is a 90s rave anthem, featuring Dizzee, and encapsulates the versatility of British urban music. Elsewhere, ‘Violence ‘ is disturbing, a trawl through the subconscious of someone ‘born and raised in the gutter’ barely managing to keep things together, barely trying to keep his head out of violent thoughts. This is a male album with very masculine concerns, the heady heights of hedonism and the lowest lows of violent aggression. ‘Bell Dem Slags’ manages to strangle that line between misogyny and hilarity, but before you know it, the nightmareish urban claustrophobia closes around you and you’re deep in the drip-drop squelch paranoia of ‘Heard You Been Smoking’ a hard-hitting story about a sorry descent into addiction.

The music encompasses all the different psyches of British urban music with slow rumbling dubstep creeping drums and basslines, manic grime, mad two-step garage and rave, drum’n’bass and good ol’ hip-hop. The beats all pulse with a dangerous electricity, an elasticity to each song, able to transcend simple verse hype chorus verse hype chorus templates. Best song ‘Douchebag’ mangles old skool electro breakbeats with rave bass synths and some funky soul sampling before fierce MCing tears up the dancefloor. With the violence of inner-city life, the guttural delivery, the aggressive metaphors and the dry humour that pervades this release, we get a deep dirty companion to Dizzee Rascal’s current output, both nasty and catchy and worth the wait.


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