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Slaughtered by Bass: S.L.T. Mob & M.Double (2003)

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Steve Goodman
London Hyperdub HQ

Also published in Deuce magazine 2003

The Slaughter Mob are MC Vicious, MC Dangerous, dj Bandit and dj Q Gritty, rolling along on the beats’n’bass of producer M.Double. I first met with them in mid-2001, 20 or so minutes after a long interview with a pre-R&B Ms.Dynamite whose Sticky produced ‘Boo’ had just charted. The last 18 months have seen her face achieve televisual ubiquity and her voice, as the US military like to say, attain ‘full spectrum dominance’. In this period, garage rap, navigating unrelenting but powerful negative hype surrounding gun violence and crews, has undergone a turbulent emergence. In 2002, garage rap’s preference for minimal electro 8bar beats brought crews like Roll Deep and producers like Wiley (formerly Pay As U Go) to the fore. Gradually, garage rap’s repertoire of voices, flows and characters seems to be mutating and expanding.

So what have the Slaughter Mob original dubsteppas been up to in this period. Of course, in that year and a half, underground night Forward has started. Purely through chance, SLT have been rinsing the club night after Ammunition tracked them down off the pirates (Y2K FM) after hearing that the crew had been mixing with their showreel CDs before most of the tunes had been released. “They were like, ‘how did that lot get hold of these tunes.’ They phoned us up, asked us to come down, and then booked us.” SLT have developed a tight following from their electric sessions at Forward, initially tearing the floor with the energetic early dark swing of Zed Bias, El-B, Oris Jay and Horsepower. Since then, they have forged their own sound, with one crucial ingredient that 8bar currently lacks, energy. The first 20 minutes of their set on Forward’s birthday bash was probably the club’s vibe peak so far.

In conversation SLT seem split when it comes to 8bar. On garage rap generally, MC Vicious tells how “a lot of people have fought against this idea of garage as the UK’s own version of hip hop. And part of this resistance has been that loads of the uk MCs are rubbish. In America, because the scene is bigger and older, at least 50% of the MCs are good. I would blatantly say that 99.9% of uk MCs are. . .[tails off in to laughter]. Seriously though, some garage MCs are appalling. It’s embarrassing sometimes. I do hope that the scene that we are in gets a bit bigger. But not too big, or the majors will run away with it. It needs to keep itself tight, like drum’n’bass has. They have held on to it. That way, everyone can eat, and hear the sound they want to hear. Not some man sitting in an office saying ‘This is what is going on!’.” “Or what’s going on?” corrects Bandit. “There is not a lot of producers doing this kind of sound but we warm to those who do. A couple of years ago it would have been all El-B and Zed Bias. But there is more and more stuff that we are into now.”

While they all produce, the man behind most of their dubs is M.Double, who describes one of the keys to those SLT sets; “yeah, we never saw anyone else on the scene drawing from CD so much. We were building tunes in the morning, and by the afternoon it was on road, you know what I mean. That must have shocked, ‘cos we were bringing fresh press.” SLT in full flight tear up the dance. Both djs, Q Gritty and Bandit seem much more willing than most djs to crank a crowd vibe with prolonged mixes. Its not surprising Bandit is a big Doc Scott fan. “His set goes up and down, you know what I mean. It is not just an Andy C ‘bangin from start to finish’ set, even though I love his sets when I am raving. But when you are buzzing, Doc Scott’s kind of set takes you on more of a journey.”

Trouble is, so few SLT productions have been released. There is the M.Double and Dangerous produced ‘No Delay/Vibezin’ on Subs. Before that, and crazily, there was the catchy bashment vibes of ‘Rocking System’ that only made it to about 100 test presses on the now defunct Vertical Drop imprint, with radio djs phoning producer M Double pleading for copies. Finally, this year, those stacks of SLT CD-Rs are finally going to migrate onto vinyl with the launch of SLT Inc., the label. The first release features the skittering circa ’94 swing-tech of M.Double’s ‘Orgazm’, and Q.Gritty’s percussive ‘Step Off’, already a Forward anthem. But this is just skimming the surface of SLT Inc’s potential output. Listen through some of their unreleased tunes, like the awesome bass filtered ‘Haunted House’, ‘Dubplate’, ‘We R Da Danger’, ‘Roll it tight’, ‘The Ruff Ryder’, ‘Wicked’, ‘Rock Da System’ and ‘Keys’, and you know M.Double and the SLT Mob are cruising.

As producer M.Double describes it, “everything from now will have that Slaughter sound. . .we have our secrets. There is things that we are doing here that no-one else does. There is one man I am sharing studio secrets with and it is Zed Bias, ‘cos he does the same for me. Zed Bias is like the secret member of Slaughter Mob. He has helped us in ways no one else has. Certain little things he has shared with us that we had never even thought of. He has guided us in that way. Certain tunes of ours he has played, and after that everyone else has been like, ‘got to have that tune’.” This year M.Double has a co-produced release with Zed Bias and Juiceman. And apart from their own label, he has also got completed tunes with J ‘Da’ Flex poised in the pipeline.

But M.Double is not your average garage producer. “I come from a totally different musical background. These guys have brought the sound to me. When you hear a track that is an M.Double track, that sound isn’t coming from someone who has gone out to all of the parties that everyone talks about. I haven’t been to Garage Nation or none of them raves. You are getting a totally different frame of mind to some of the producers who are running it now. So what you get is my version of what dem lot (the rest of SLT) want to hear, you know what I mean. This thing is not just my head. They play me what is in their boxes, and tell me that they would love to have a tune that sounds like this, but has got that in it instead.” You can hear this process at work in M.Double’s early Subs release, which is like some mutant combination of Oris Jay, Zed Bias and El-B. M. Double continues; “That was like the first step. But what has happened since then is that we all produce now. Vicious might physically bring the bass sound to my studio, rather than ‘I want it to sound like someone elses’ he has made the sound himself from nothing. Or Dangerous will just bring the beat that he wants with him.”With the launch of SLT Inc. the label, and a weekly show on Y2K 90.6FM, Thursday 10-12, you too can roll with M.Double and the Slaughter Mob.

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Copyright © Hyperdub 2003 – Reprinted with permission.

Category: Hyperdub

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Riddim.ca was founded by DJ/writer paul autonomic (aka Mr. Bump) in February 2005 as a hub for North America's nascent grime and dubstep scenes. Since then we've helped promote events across the continent and made friends around the world. Mostly dormant now, we're host to one of the web's largest collections of writing on the late-Garage dis/continuum as well as a growing collection of rare audio and scans (coming eventually).