YouTube Sessions: Wen

As the ‘dark 130’ movement – the newest form of shady UK sound system music – continues to bloom in 2013 (largely thanks to Dusk & Blackdown’s collective ears), we thought it’d be the ideal time invite one of the sounds main proponents in for a YouTube Sesh. Wen had a pretty set regime for his selection from the off, so we’ll let him do the talking…

“These videos are what I use YouTube for in my spare time, most of them are freestyles I’ve been sent by a good friend. They are glimpses of moments that defined our taste in music as we grew up and the transition of interest from past-to-present (and relevance) – from grime, to UK road rap. There are similarities between the two, but as far as a healthy and inspiring scene goes, rap has the edge today. The mc’s and producers are working together. Today it seems there are a lot of producers making grime… but not enough active vocalists to embrace it, which is a shame. At the same time it has created an opportunity, for me anyway, to bring in my own choice of vocals to recreate the energy of some of the freestyles included in this list, with a slight road rap edge to it (in the choice of words and placement to mimic lazy off-beat flows, yet maintaining the urgency of grime in the delivery).”

Skepta – Straight Up Remix

“Skepta’s remix of Dapz on the Map and Lil Choppa‘s track ‘Straight Up’, Skepta is probably my favourite grime MC.. Can’t really put my finger on what it is about him, he’s just king. I love the weird tracks he does on his albums and mix-tapes, there’s always a good balance of emotion / positivity / street edge and charisma in his music. I rate the collabs he’s done on the rap flex too, w/ Blade Brown, Giggs, Fem-Fel and Youngs Teflon – he’s really versatile. Thomas Mellor’s production striving forward on this too.”

Youngs Teflon – What I’m Doing

“Love this track so much.. the tint on the video is perfect for the vibe. I think this is the best example of Vocalist and Producer working together perfectly, Carns and Teflon have done so many great mix-tapes together, they never fail to impress.”

Sneakbo Ft. Mavado – Warn Them

First Sneakbo track I heard, his best in my opinion.. positive music, he’s got this honest raw street style to him. He broke through to the mainstream so quickly after I got shown this track, fully deserves the success he got last year. Hope I get to see him live, heard really good things about the atmosphere at his shows.. there’s a few videos where the crowd are singin’ his lyrics louder than the soundsystem (see here), the vibe is crazy.

Skepta and Frisco – Deja Vu 2004

“Not gonna say much about this one, it’s an old-school radio set with Skepta and Frisco on rap. Brings back so many memories.”

Dot Rotten 1Xtra Freestyle 2009

“Dot riding his own beats on 1Xtra, the second instrumental is one of my all time favourites from him. For me this was when he was at his peak, obviously he’s gone onto much bigger things now.. but he always said he would, this was just my favourite moment of him – 08/ early 09, when he matured as an artist.. gave out his whole back catalogue of beats (Rotten Riddims, 6 Volumes) and then did mixtape after mixtape. He voiced his journey and emotions all the way through, the most inspiring artist in the scene. I kinda want to take back what I said about Skepta earlier and say Rotten is my favourite, thing is.. the commercial stuff he’s doing now is so far from the older stuff, it’s like he should’ve changed his name again.”

Trim – I’m Asleep

“This is the defining track of Trims style for me. To start the instrumental isn’t even on beat, it drops on a strange bar and progresses with more drums at odd points.. then his flow is off-beat, but somehow he rides it well.. dark stabs and strings, street imagery and untold metaphors. Telling it like it is, with so much style.”

Loopz Freestyle (5.12 – 8.08)

Typical UK road rap situation. Youngs Teflon rapping in the back of a car, then Loopz turns up “just out here trapping” and does the sickest freestyle over the most fitting instrumental, on the road side.. filmed from inside a car. Seems like a really unintentional situation, can well relate to those random times when heads turn up to the same place at the same time and something memorable happens.”

Wiley – Broken Thoughts (Prod. Kid D)

Was really glad to see this on his new album, the intro is sick as well.. with all the snippets of his old beats, its good he’s feeding that through to his new fans. Hopefully they dig back to his older catalogue and discover the Tunnel Vision series, or at least Treddin’ on Thin Ice. I hear some similarities in this track to Letter 2 Dizzee and a few of the other emotional ones, really well produced too.”

Youngs Teflon – Hustlers Don’t Die

“Late night listening, really emotional track. One of those 2 minute ones you find yourself playing over and over after you catch the vibe. Not too sure who made the instrumental.. I hope its Carns.”

Fix Dot’M – Steel Banglez Freestyle

“Late night listening #2. Short freestyle I listen to 3 or 4 times in a row quite regularly. This is another example of Producer and Vocalist working consistently well, with Steel Banglez.”

JME, Big H, Shortee, Bossman Freestyle 2007

“Always come back to this one, half of the old meridian crew on 1xtra.. standout individual styles and flows, Big H kills it though.. this and his practice hours freestyle are at such a high standard.”

Wen VS Epoch – Hydraulics at Fabric

“Bit of a bonus link. I played Fabric for the first time at the Keysound night last year, my entire crew came up to support me. I closed my set with this tune… was a special moment.”

Various – ‘This Is How We Roll’ is out now via Keysound Recordings