It has only been two years since Boxed started up but it feels a lot longer, such is their impact on the grime scene. Just as J Dilla showed that instrumental hip-hop wasn’t just for THC-addled white blokes with blocked pores, but could instead be transformative and psychedelic, so too Boxed’s producer crew make grime instrumentals into so much more than scaffold for MCs to build from. Grime’s central rhythmic bait and switch is still there, but overlaid with aspartame synth lines, finely sliced R&B samples, lurching dub wobbles and, in the case of Rabit and the “weightless” sub-style, no beats whatsoever. As well as the core quartet of Logos, Slackk, Mr Mitch and Oil Gang, there’ll be Spooky, a grime legend with a very low attention span who slaps you with smash after smash, Novelist’s DJ Grandmixxer and soulful rising producer Finn. Of course, if any MCs were to turn up, they’d hardly get chucked out.
Bloc, E3, Fri
Beat BBQ Block Party, Belfast
After a weekend of dancing, hangovers and burning your pay cheque, Monday can feel like bouncing back to reality with a leaden thud. If you’re in Belfast, though, this Monday offers a party to start your week right. The Beat BBQ Block Party has a trio of old school heroes rolling through town, in the form of Roy Davis Jr, Egyptian Lover and Jamie Jupiter. Their sounds helped shape the house music of today – particularly with Roy Davis Jr’s work as part of Phuture, who released on classic Chicago label Trax. But this is no nostalgic hall of fame geriatrics’ day out. Egyptian Lover’s talkbox vocal harmonies sound fresh as hell over crunching 80s house’n’rap hooks, while the ripple effect of brother-in-arms Jamie Jupiter’s low-slung, sexy electro can still be felt in today’s techno underground. And I’d bet that next pay cheque that if Davis Jr drops Phuture’s fizzy 303 classic Acid Tracks the dancefloor will come alive. Call it a BBQ Block Party, sure, but this is also a display of how music can be timeless.
Aether & Echo, Mon
In the picky world of clubbing, it’s no mean feat to balance populism with the underground. Yet today, celebrating their 15th year on Merseyside, promoters Chibuku make a stronger case than ever for their ability to do so. Festival favourites such as Annie Mac, Andy C and Jackmaster lead the charge, joined by some of dance music’s most innovative tastemakers, with the likes of Joy Orbison, Four Tet and Benji B on hand to ensure a flurry of track ID requests for the heads. At the city’s vast Camp And Furnace, Chibuku continue to evolve alongside independent promoters, presenting a fond look over the current UK dance scene, big and small. Here’s to another 15.
Camp And Furnace, Sat
Merging trance, hip-hop and techno, Rustie’s 2011 debut Glass Swords won the Glaswegian legions of fans, from club kids to chin-scratching snobs, and solidified the producer as a forerunner in creating dance floor fillers with “real emotion”. He went on to release the album Green Language last year, which hones in on his love of early grime and dirty hip-hop. These in-your-face outputs are complemented by Rustie’s hyper-euphoric sets, which contrast with his usually shy personality and prove his ability to keep a party going until the early hours.
21 Years Of House & Garage, London
Even if, as Boxed shows, grime is where the ideas are in London clubland, one cannot live on baffling snares alone, and this night is a reminder of the white-leather VIP area that grime originally got kicked out of. There are garage elders in the form of DJ EZ, DJ Luck & MC Neat and Wookie, alongside young bucks such as Preditah, Royal T and Majestic – all charting garage’s emergence out of US dance and UK bass, through the British charts, and on to its house-enthralled current form.
Building Six, SE10, Sat