Having had a top 2013 — with releases on Big Dada, Butterz, Hardrive, young upstarts Coyote Records and his own Beatcamp imprint — original, London grime OG, P Jam kicks off 2014 in fine style with his experimental, breaks laden grime EP Fight the Feeling featuring soulful songstress Hannah Rae.
Opening number “Fight the Feeling” kicks off like an old school drum and bass tune with rich pads and a lone hi-hat ushering in Rae’s diva soaked vocal lines before dropping into a highly modulated bassline sitting atop, initially a half time drum track, constructed from crusty breaks and militant hi-hat flurries before launching into a hard, uncompromising, eight-bar grime riddim that takes no prisoners. It’s a really nice change of pace from the clipped, high frequency based, melodic grime that is all too prevalent nowadays.
Transcend’s remix of the titular “Fight the Feeling” — a piano driven house number that really allows the vocal performance from Rae to shine through. Swathes of blissful ambiance pepper the smooth groove along with bass whomps, that wouldn’t sound out of place in a dubstep track (given the right producer and set of accompanying sounds!) and double bass licks, that when all swirled up together, combine to create a number imbued with a twitchy energy that naturally ebbs and flows like a river, constantly underpinned by the steady 4×4 beat and the deftly dancing vocals on top.
Final track “Victorious” – my favorite on the release, is an odd one to describe because it is seriously different from any other grime you will have heard from last year. It is built around a hip hop-esq stab that is complimented by bongos and heavily modulated, exotic sounding break beats. These elements are joined by simple, but deep basslines, reesey one shots and twinkly sound effects. That’s the simple, easy way to describe the tune. But simple is not what the tune is. Now I’m not saying that is full to the brim with competing noises and sounds, in fact, it is extremely streamlined and cogent. The arrangement is just bonkers and off the wall. Perverting grime’s classic 8-bar format into something more experimental than the genre already is, is no mean feat and is testament to the scope of P Jam’s vision. It’s almost an American sounding take on one of Britain’s finest new exports, sort of like footwork-y, almost juke grime. Progressive is not the word.
For me, the EP is a great example of why P Jam is so important to grime’s future. The fusing of breaks and a sample heavy mentality into grime’s usually clinical cold, eski ridden sound palette is not something every fan boy is going to take kindly too- especially when grime’s ubiquitous clap, purposefully absent on this EP, serves not only as a genre signifier but also a vehicle for the music’s primitive aggression nature. Also, when you get down to it, the pattern of drum hits in grime and the much maligned “breaks” genre (sorry I said a dirty word Mummy) are basically identical – in fact the now “classic” grime drum beat is a straight lift of many a funk break, just with more pitched clipped sounds driving the riddims forward. These factors on top of his forward thinking attitude, his defiance of genre convention and the fact he refuses to be tied down to a single set of sounds that makes him so exciting and important to grimes evolution!
Also, just like Terror Dinah, P Jam seems a step above the rest of the grime fraternity when it comes to the technically of his craft. His mixes are warm, full, punchy and aggressive all at the same time, with a stereo balance and forward/backwards soundstage perspective that is second to none. I guess this is a result of his longevity within the music scene, but it is pertinent to note that it is always a pleasure, sonically speaking, to listen to a P Jam production.
Be on the lookout for his upcoming “Chaos and Order” project. If you like the fusing of breaks with heavy, bass orientated urban music then you are in for a treat.