Monday 2 June 2014

MTV IGGY: Selector: Bok Bok Picks His R&G Classics

By Joseph 'JP' Patterson

So, R&G—the singer-led spin-off borne out of grime's left rib—lives to see another day. Sparked up in the mid-noughties by grime composers Terror Danjah, Scratch DVA and DaVinChe, R&G (rhythm and grime) took a genre known for its angst and high levels of testosterone and threw sweet female attitudes in the mix to soften the relentless blows. And the result was nothing short of sonic amazement: soulful powerhouses pouring their riffs and runs out over screwface-inducing beats, fit for the aggiest of mic men, it was a sound that called the opposite sex to the floor without getting caught in a mosh-pit, a sound that hoodie-wearing guys could bump-n-grind with their girls in a club to without fear of looking like all the other mushy, drunk-in-love messes you typically see during Slow Jam section.

R&G went missing for a while—literally a year after Scratcha DVA released his The Voice Of Grime LP in 2006—but it seems to have finally found its way back to us. Alongside Kingdom of Fade To Mind, the US sister label of Night Slugs, London-based beatsmith Bok Bok's ongoing search for grime's heart came through strong in the A&Ring of Kelela's 2013-released mixtape, Cut 4 Me. He believes that R&G's return has been a long time coming.

"I always think pop music could be more exciting and challenging, and R&G is the way to do it," he says. "You can give it the rawness, realness, genuine emotion and human aspects of the grime scene, as well as the polish of radio appeal. If you listen to old Timbaland, when he produced for Aaliyah and Ginuwine, who's to say that's not R&G? They were different beats, but there's that warmth and human emotional element to it. One of the Rodney Jerkins beats for Destiny's Child had a similar vibe, too. I'm still a big believer R&G is feasible for the charts and the public. The production's not there on many well-written songs, and that's where we're trying to take it with R&G."

Bok Bok's new 7-track EP, Your Charizmatic Self — his first full effort since 2011's 8-bar grime-influenced EP, Southside — sees him staying in R&G's frame, whilst weaving through '80s funk and electro soundscapes, with all but one vocal contribution: Kelela, on the shimmery throwback vibes of "Melba's Call". For Sushon, this set cuts deep. "This EP is about being true to yourself,"  he explains. "It's about figuring out what it is I want to do in music but, at the same time in my life, it was really figuring out who I am, as a person. Those two things went hand-in-hand. It's almost like some producers want to make nice music but have to conform within their genre. I decided I didn't care about any of that stuff, and if I wanted to go for more colorful melodies and express myself differently, I would do just that."

In light of the EP release and Night Slugs celebrating six years of its club night, Bok Bok recently set off on a world tour, where he'll be spreading the UK club music gospel across the States, Oz, and various EU locations. And what will he be bumping on the tour bus? R&G, of course! MTV IGGY got the grime romantic to select his fave R&G cuts, of all time. Tune in below.


"This track has to be in my top five, without a doubt. Katy Pearl made Kano sound like a bit of a dickhead on ‘Leave Me Alone.’ He gets kinda boyed! [Laughs] Most MCs have an ego, and he decided to not come across that way. Katy told him where to go!"

“Sadie’s ‘So Sure’ is such a classic; it was produced by Terror Danjah. I personally think Terror deserved to get a No. 1 with his R&G stuff but probably didn’t because he didn’t have the right infrastructure behind him. Besides that, he is an amazing R&B producer, let alone R&G. Some of his beats are timeless.”


"I love this slow mix of 'I Luv U.' The production’s much sweeter, but still dark, and has an Asian melody and sinogrime feel about it. Although it has a couple of MC features on it, it’s still such an earnest track. No aggression here! When you make tunes for the girls, it can work so well."


"Swiftee had a few sick beats … I don’t know if they ever got vocalled, but he sampled all this Motown stuff. He had a tune called 'Motown Dreams,' which I could not get enough of. There’s another guy called Low Deep, who made 'Straight Passion,' and them two guys had a little instrumental side to R&G; girly tunes but still with that grimey edge."


"This is a bassline/4×4 track, but it used to melt my heart. 'Lifey' shows just how much you can do with bassline, when there’s a nice vocal on top of it. Sweets was only 14 when this came out. She was young, and shouldn’t have even been out in the club [laughs]."

Bok Bok's Your Charizmatic Self EP is out now.

This also appeared over at MTV IGGY: H E R E