LISTEN: Grades ‘Freedom’
It’s been a while between drinks for London switch-doctor SBTRKT. Almost three years ago now the masked electro producer hit us with his eponymous debut LP, and while he’s teased at the idea of a follow-up being released later this year, he’s left something of a gulf in the musical landscape where his unique brand of tribal, jungle-funk dub-step used to reside.
For those starting to feel the comedown, meet GRADES: the 21-year old South Londoner keen to give you that shot in the arm you’ve been craving. Signed to Warner, GRADES delivers the goods in the form of his first original production, ‘Freedom’: a grooving disco-style beat that could have easily been the B-side to SBTRKT‘s ‘Pharaohs’.
Impassioned vocal hooks belt out over the bumping percussion raps, courtesy of a tastefully played Jill Scott sample (note: whilst this shouldn’t be mistaken for Gil Scott, as in Heron, the soulful sound does have something of the same effect as JAMIE XX‘s ‘We’re New Here’) chanting about “freedom”, “living life like it’s golden” and “high-stepping y’all”. That ought to give some indication about the kind of vibes that this track puts out.
This is like going to the Triple Rock Baptist Church on pills, hooking a Moog synth into the pipe organ and preaching to the heaving masses about a higher level of musical enlightenment. GRADES skulls the communion wine and smashes the rose-glass windows, making room for mirror-balls, lasers and throngs of scantily-clad, neon-painted party pilgrims—and it’s brilliant.
But that’s just one interpretation. Listen for yourself, and you might just see the light. It’ll probably be a strobe.
Words by Gavin Butler