Dem A Fight EP Review

Grubby Mitts – Dem a Fight EP – Review

Grubby Mitts: Dem a Fight EP Review by Mr Topple for

A recent release by the Grubby Mitts label shows what can be done when you take a top-class riddim and turn it into a 12” vinyl release – available now in the Pauzeradio reggae vinyl shop.

Dem A Fight EP, released via Grubby Mitts, sees the label team up with some well-established artists, as well as a rising one, across a base riddim which is effective and infectious.

Side one opens with Admiral Tibet and Dem a Fight – the base riddim of the record.

It’s a classic imposing Roots track but with several twists. Bubble rhythm keys are stark and played in the mid-range of their register, which are the most dominant feature of the genre. The bass winds as well, across and up and down melody with a resonant and booming timbre. However, what’s so clever about the track is the attention to detail. While the drums feel Roots in terms of the snare and partly the rolling hi-hats, the kick gives a major nod to Dancehall – running a riff across a mashed-up version of the traditional rhythmic clave (that ‘oneeeeee-twooo-and’ type beat) which the bass then picks up at points. This means that Dem a Fight feels Roots but moves along at quite a pace – reminiscent of early Dancehall. There is some nice use of synths as well – including rasping horns and some additional drums which bring the sonics hard. The Old Skool electric keyboard is a great touch – and the bridge where the bass suddenly runs quavers have the feel of Steppers. Tibet’s vocals are on point: rapid-fire, rhythmically interesting, and well-enunciated – filled with dynamic light and shade and super melodies to boot. Overall, Dem a Fight is a quality cut and extremely well-executed.

Dem a Fight is then reworked, bringing in up and coming artists Daddylynx across Wi Run Wi Business. The basic riddim has remained largely similar – however the inclusion of Daddylynx elevates the track, turning it into an almost battle. His vocal contrasts with Tibet’s: slightly more crystalline, more nasal than throaty, and with a focus on rhythmic gymnastics as opposed to melodic trickery. He holds his own well – delivering solo passages across the verses, and the pairing of the two works perfectly.

Side A closes with the Knockout Dub version from James Zugasti at BBMC. It’s an interesting reworking, seeing the bass heavily messed with at points and a lot of the instrumentation stripped away – leaving just the drums and bass points to create that haunting Dub vibes. Tibet’s vocals have been heavily engineered with reverb, decay, and some compression – while the keys get a similar treatment, too. Overall, it’s class – more so because that electric keyboard gets to keep its fantastic line.

Side B opens with Jammys Records veteran Robert Lee and Sound a Go Dead. He takes the riddim and runs with it – creating a different affair to Tibet and Daddylynx. His vocal lives in a higher register and is more rasping and piercing than either of the other two artists. He makes good use of rhythmic stanzas and their embellishment; keeps the melody unfussy to allow those to shine through, but at time breaks out into a straight vocal high up his tenor register – a surprising but well-executed move. It’s a great interpretation and completes the trio of works across the riddim well.

The Suckerpunch Dub from Zugasti is an effective reworking of Lee’s offering, as well – once again filled with good attention to detail across the engineering, some interesting mixing up of the instrumental lines, and good work across Lee’s vocal – making it highly atmospheric and haunting.

The vinyl closes with Dem a Fight – Dubplate Mix, which offers some paring back of the original cut with a focus on more Dub elements – like stark breaks, an increase in the use of reverb, and great reworkings of the original instrumental layering – for example, bringing the bass to the fore at points, and the electric keyboard at others.

Overall, Dem A Fight EP from Grubby Mitts is a quality release – both in terms of the composition and arrangements, mastering, and the vocal performances. Well worth an inclusion in anyone’s collection.

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Grubby Mitts Dem A Fight EP Review by Mr Topple / Pauzeradio PR Services.

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