About ten months ago I went to see a show by a furry guy called Star Slinger who looked like a fairly good approximation of what a wookiee might look like if he walked into an ivy league school with a beat pad, minimal lighting and some of the largest speakers this side of Philadelphia. I was there to see Star Slinger but stood, angrily, through his support act – a lanky kid by the name of Shlomo – who pretty much mouthed the words to every vocal loop he sampled (thus attempting to be Drake for the majority of the night) and when he wasn’t singing, took to a dance move whereby he would slowly push some fictional thing from the middle of his shirt, up to his shoulder and all the way down to his other hand. The kid might well have had some sort of serious OCD issue where he imagined pathogens crawling all over his skin and felt constantly compelled to swat them off, but I don’t think he did. By and large, he was depressingly self-congratulating and, while he could have been a successful bedroom producer, I couldn’t see past his onstage antics to really legitimise the sub-standard performance.
Had you asked me that night, after I restrained myself from booing the guy off stage, whether he might be the peripheral subject of a OAD post in the near future, you probably would have gotten a reply as icily unimpressed as the reception I provided the 21-year-old San Francisco-based producer. This post is not in any way an attempt to exonerate Shlomo for what was one of the most inexplicably arrogant performances I’ve ever witnessed, but it is, I suppose, conceding the fact that things change, tastes develop. So while I could never properly bring myself to write about Shlomo, this post, about RL Grime, is intimately connected to the ‘trap music’ electronic tradition out of which the former rises. My predilection for trap music in the EDM frame, a genre concept I only came across today, makes a lot of sense. In a sign that America is slowly catching up to the ever-progressive British scene, electronic trap music borrows on the hip-hop tradition of Southern rappers like UGK and T.I. (or , depending on your chronology) and embellishes those beats with electronic flourishes. At the intersection of two of my favourite musical styles stand a tight crew including RL Grime, Shlomo and a whole lot more of the Mad Decent roster.
Playing on the R.L. Stine name (of Goosebumps fame), RL Grime appears to be appropriating something more from his literary namesake. Like those creepy kids horror books, everything about Grime is choose your own adventure. Like ambient? Go to 11″. Like crunk? Go to 1’17″. Prefer synths? See 2′. RL Grime itself is a schizoid manifestation of Clockwork (also also known as Los Angeles born Henry Steinway). But while Clockwork indulges in titanic bangers , apparently designed to separate your organs from their lining, Grime is a flag bearer for the acid trap movement. As such, tracks like ‘Amphibian’ boast the same hip-hop sensibilities that underpin Clockwork’s tracks but are more sincerely turned down and, accordingly, more readily listenable. Many are calling the infiltration of trap music as the last nail in the dubstep coffin, hailing the movement as the natural successor to the EDM throne but I really hope that’s not the case. As much as I can’t stand Shlomo and his pretentious dance moves, I’m not quite ready to give up RL Grime and the deep, fulfilling sounds of ‘Amphibian’ to the masses yet.
RL Grime – Amphibian