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Review: Lord of the Mic DVD

‘One of the most striking developments of the grime scene to date has been the meteoric rise of DVD’s. It seems like there’s a new one being released every other week, boasting ‘exclusive freestyles, in da streets footage etc.’ and accompanying mix CD’s… 

No one can dispute that the original DVD dons HotHeadz Promotions (aka Ratty + Capo) have been at the forefront the whole game for a couple of years now. 2002’s and 2003’s Lord of the Decks Vol. 1 + 2 were easily some of the biggest mix CD’s banging (I first got into grime via the latter) and 2004’s Lord of the Mic: Battle Arena is no exception.The DVD brings it with a focus on clashing. It’s a good move on the directors’ part, as the interview footage on Lord of the Decks tended to be a tad dry at parts. It’s the big freestyles that make a DVD go off, and LOTMBA features wall to wall clashes, many of which take place in Jammer’s gully basement studio. The battles are all very hot (except maybe for the battle between hip-hop MC’s Kal Serious + Corey Johnson. I don’t know about anyone else but I’m not really feeling the second rate Dipset thing a lot of these UK hip-hop cats are on.) Particular highlights include Crazy T annihilating Bruza through sheer aggression, Ghetto and Napper remixing each other’s lines to hilarious effect (‘OOOWWWWWWW, wash them teeth!’) and Footsie telling Scratchy his ‘hair looks like weave’. The indubitable highlight though has to be the substantial session between Wiley and Kano in which they display to full effect why they’re the top boys in the game, trading off hot 16’s and 32’s like it’s going out of style. There are too many big bars to mention, you’ll just have to check it out. In addition the DVD features a text in system via which viewers can vote the winner of each clash (not sure if this feature is still running.)

And of course you know that that any tunes coming out the HotHeadz camp are gonna be big. It’s the mix CD that really seals the deal. Anyone who had the unfortunate opportunity to sit through the Risky Roadz mix CD will know what I mean when I say that HotHeadz always bring it with the tunes. On this one you get bare exclusives from all of the big East man dem. Most of the tunes featured on LOTMBA have only been released within the past couple of months (if at all) which just shows you how ahead of the curve the series is. Highlights include: Ears – ‘Chinney Chin’, Flirta D – ‘Foolish’ and Essentials – ‘Shut Down Shop’. You also get some rawer freestyles like Lethal B’s now legendary Kylie slew and Kano merking Flirta D over the ‘Prang Man’ riddim.

LOTMBA is a big release. My only complaint (and it’s a minor one) is that the beats during the bits in Jammer’s dungeon are slightly hard to hear over the MC’s at times. Overall though it’s a quality product and well worth the purchase. Just don’t let Esco catch you bootlegging it. Look out for the latest installment of the Lord of the Decks series coming this summer.

– Luca Lucarini

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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).