WHP Presents: Tropical
Saturday 3rd of October
Store Street, Manchester
You would have had to been living under a rock this year to not notice the huge resurgence in Grime music this year. Weather you have been listening to the UK strain of Grime and Bass music since the early 2000’s or if tracks like Skepta’s ‘That’s Not Me’ was your first introduction to the genre the Tropical Warehouse Project had acts to please both the avid listener and the first timer. The evening was headlined by the two people making the most noise in Grime this year, brothers and long term collaborators Skepta and JME. Although it could be said that a large proportion of the crowd were there simply to see this two tear up Room 1 with some of 2015’s most notable tunes there was plenty other talent across the night which and two rooms to satisfy all.
I started the night in the venue's, slightly more intimate, room 2 where Slimzee was treating the crowd to an absolute history lesson in Grime, UKG and bass music. His work on Rinse FM (back in the day when it was pirate radio) and his work on albums like Dizzee Rascals ‘Boy In The Corner’ make him one of the most respected people in the UK scene of underground music. His set was a glorious mix of Grime and Garage Dubplates and remixes, dropping Spyro’s remix of the infamous Rebound X track ‘Rhythm and Gash’. Slimzee also showed his knowledge in newer strains of UK dance music by dropping both a Rustie track and an edit of an old Hudson Mohawke cut. It’s impressive to watch someone mix so fluently between genres without alienating the crowd.
Next up in Room 2 was Hyperdub boss-man and Dubstep Pioneer Kode9, and although it’s impossible to pin down Kode9’s entire set to a single genre, Dubstep seemed the main flavour. There are not many club nights now where you get the chance to hear legends of the Dubstep scene because so many of the pioneers of dubstep have moved onto other genres and ideas. So, it was an absolute joy to hear tracks from Caspa & Rusko, early Skream and Loefah and seminal tracks like Kode9 and Spaceape’s ‘Nine Samurai’. For anyone who adored early Dubstep but was too young to experience it in a club environment Kode9’s set would be of been ideal. He also dropped probably one of my all time favourite Dubstep tracks, Pinch’s ‘Swish’ which, like most Dubstep or bass orientated tracks, are made for the club.
It was time to venture into Room 1 and try and get a good spot for the headliners Skepta and JME, which, like I expected, brought the largest crowd of the night, with the room reaching full capacity. Having gone with a large group of friends it was nearly impossible to stick together as thousands joined the sweaty room to see the two hardest working guys in Grime. The pair only had an hour to prove why they are some of the most talked about artists in the UK right now but they certainly didn’t disappoint. Throughout their headline set they dropped all the expected tracks. Opening with Sketpa and Young Lord’s track ‘It Ain’t Safe’. They performed together on stage alongside a collection of other BBK members, it was great to see both JME and Skepta sharing verses on each others tracks. With JME mainly playing cuts off his newest album ‘Integrity’ and Skepta jumping back and fourth between his newest records and old bangers. Including ‘Doing It Again’ but played over Rhythm and Gash and ‘Too Many Men’. Clearly the highlights and the tracks which received the best reaction were ‘Nasty’, ‘Shutdown’, ‘That’s Not Me’, ‘Man Don’t Care’ , ‘Back Then’ and Skepta’s newest release with Fekky ‘Way Too Much’. Whether you have issue over the explosion of Grime and the inevitable clash between it’s newer and ‘original’ listeners, there is absolutely no arguing that in the last year Skepta and JME have made some of the most interesting and exciting tracks to come out of the UK scene. This night was going to be Skepta’s last night touring for a while and his performance showed he wanted to end on a bang. If you needed any proof that 2015 was Grime’s year, this headline performance by Skepta and JME should simply be enough.
I finished off the night with another artist who was had a massive year. UKG pioneer and king behind the decks, DJ EZ. EZ is responsible for some of the most interesting and impressive mixes ever to grace the clubs. Including marathon 3 and a half hour sets for Boiler Room and Mixmag. Although only an hour long slot in this case, in true DJ EZ fashion the tunes came out thick and fast delivering a collection of the best UKG, Bassline and Grime instrumentals all expertly mixed. This was my first time seeing him play live and it really is a great experience watching someone control a room so easily with his selections.
Grime’s explosion into the US in the last year has opened the genre up to a whole new audience and Skepta is undoubtedly the front man for the whole scene right now. From UKG, Bassline, Dubstep and Garage it was so enjoyable to have an entire night dedicated to scenes that not only originated in the UK but are still utterly controlled by UK artists and DJ’s. Tropical was proof that the UK always has and always will be responsible for some of the most exciting and visionary dance music and the evenings artists, DJ’s and producers proved that so well with great performances across the board.
Words by Stan Platford
Photos courtesy of Gary Brown