Tag Archives: Lit City Trax

1796489_1488784468040278_8438347315891124336_nAs the instrumental grime resurgence has grown in both popularity and contributing members over the course of the past two years, many pundits have questioned the aesthetic consistency of much of what is being dubbed grime. And it’s true, tempo, sound palette and geographic location have been altered dramatically. Grime is no longer solely a London ting and its most dominant motifs have been stretched to their logical limits by artists both within and outside the genre’s traditional East London core. Geography is the most easily recognizable change as producers can be found as far flung as Houston and Malaysia and while no one is questioning London’s supremacy, the diffusion of sounds and ideas on the internet has surely allowed for many to take a tangential approach to the work of Ruff Sqwad, Iron Soul, Dot Rotten, et al. A more important critique is more broad, but integral to the make up and continuing success of the genre: without a singular locational touchstone and equally monumental origin story, can grime retain its sonic quirks and aesthetic gruffness, its ability to confound and astound in equal measure? Essentially, can grime retain what makes it grimey?

Born in Ireland and now residing in London, Saga has been producing hip hop and grime for 10+ years now, but his two most recents EPs that have as much to say about the above questions as any released in recent memory. Tempo and sound palette-wise, Saga fits right into the world of grime, taking a muted and mutated eski palette into ever-bizarre places. His two releases to date, the Crescent EP on Lost Codes and the Flight Risk EP on Lit City Trax, can both nominally be defined as grime, but they’re also deeply indebted to industrial music, ambient found sounds and a host of other intermingling threads. The fact that his snares function as scythes and his square waves seem to dance and sputter around the track bring to mind classic grime, but the structures are all off, the placement of melodies discordant enough to unsettle the most experimental minded listener.

It’s Saga’s approach that makes his output so definitively grime, an approach defined by singular vision, antisocial personality traits and a rugged approach to sonics. There’s enough detriment left on a Saga track to round up and make a whole new track, maybe a result of listening to low bit rate versions of grime classics, but can also be attributed to a childhood full of death metal. In essence, its a trait and an approach that can’t necessarily be learnt. Rabit, one of the prime outside-of-London proponents of the genre grew up inundated in Texas screw rap, for example. It’s the quality that attracted Visionist and J-Cush who run Lost Codes and Lit City respectively, an inherent grimey-ness that pervades tracks like “Crescent” and “Grains”. It’s also what makes Saga’s Astral Plane mix one of our most thrilling yet, a down and dirty tail of detuned square waves floating through the void and all out sonic warfare. J-Cush called Saga’s work “modern grime”, which it certainly is, but its modernity doesn’t subvert its essential elements. And his 34 minute contribution is as essential as they come, a loose collection of industrial blasts on one hand and an intricately constructed modern grime centrifuge on the other. Essential listening either way whether you’re invested in grime’s living history or not.


Continuing our year end coverage, we asked Tomas Fraser, head of breathtaking grime outlet Coyote Records, which 2014 songs he wished he could have signed. It’s a bit of a silly hypothetical, but while signing a “Take Time” is almost always a heartbeat decision, the amount of factors that go into a label signing are often overwhelming. Tomas does an excellent job with Coyote and while he couldn’t snag the following, Mumdance x Novelist, Murlo, CYPHR, Visionist or Gantz x El Mahdy Jr. tracks this year, his label has turned out quality releases from Chemist and Spare, as well as their annual compilation, Coyote Kings 2. Check out Tomas’ selection below and hit the jump to stream Rejig’s contribution to the aforementioned compilation. Also, be sure to peep Riley Lake’s Fave Discontinued Hardware from yesterday!

Mumdance ft. Novelist – ‘Take Time’ (Rinse)

Would loved to have released a record on this based primarily on the fact that it single-handedly gave power back to the MCs – it proved that MCs could do the intricate, new world of contemporary instrumental grime production justice and vice versa. Don’t think we’ll fully appreciate it for a few years yet either.

Murlo – Cold Stroke (Oil Gang)

Spent the last 10 months or so fast-forwarding mixes just to reload ‘Cold Stroke’ – it’s just one of those tracks that I’ll always love. Was chuffed to see it get a proper release because I still think it stands as one of his best pieces of production to date.

CYPHR – Sun (Her Records)

Went under the radar a bit this one but it blew me away listening to it for the first time. The way the track builds and all the components intertwine is genuinely beautiful – even my boss bought the EP after I played it in the office. Says it all really.

Visionist – More Pain (Lit City Trax)

Visionist has my favourite production aesthetic in the game and ‘More Pain’ is probably the best example of how he goes about his work. It reminds me of a prayer of sorts in the sense that it’s gothic and moody and haunting and almost spiritual, all at the same time – it’s this sense of emotional urgency that makes him stand out from the rest for me.

Gantz ft. El Mahdy Jr – Rising (Deep Medi)

Not my usual bag but I know Gantz is a great producer and alongside El Mahdy Jr, something clicked for me. There’s a real tangible sense of spirituality about ‘Rising’ – perpetuated by Mahdy Jr’s enchanting vocal – and the way Gantz joins the dots between the classic Medi template & the sounds of his own heritage and culture is first class.

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Earlier this week, DJ Marfox‘s Lucky Punch EP was released on Lit City Trax, a massive artistic step forward for both artist and producer. Lisbon’s hybrid dance system has been percolating through Internet locales for around a year now and Marfox acts as the foremost purveyor of the fascinating sounds emitting from the Portuguese capitol. For Lit City Trax, Lucky Punch represents new horizons and a geographical expansion beyond Chicago, New York and London. The EP mostly plays out at 140 BPM and proportions an array of kuduro, tarraxhina, house, hip hop and more into a frenetic, aggro blends that breaks any and all existing molds. If you’re in New York tonight, find a way to finagle your way inside Lit City’s RMBA Festival event, featuring Marfox, DJ Deeon, Mumdance and more. Stream “Noise” and “Beat and Break” below and get your own copy of Lucky Punch through Boomkat.


On May 27, J-Cush’s Lit City Trax imrpint will release DJ Marfox’s Lucky Punch EP, the first non-Portuguese release from the Lisbon-based artist. “Terra Batida” is the first taste of the EP, which should (hopefully) launch Marfox’s defining sound into a whole new arena. Lit City has progressed through footwork and grime already and Marfox’s myriad kuduro/tarraxhina hybrid tracks should fit in perfectly with the label’s idiosyncratic vision. Stream “Terra Batida” below and prepare yourself for May 27.