It’s always interesting to see what happens on follow-up compilations, especially when the first volume is so groundbreaking. For many, last years’ Run The Road compilation (Vice Recordings) was encapsulating in its fresh approach to the hip-hop realm. The compilation highlighted the craze surrounding the East London movement known as Grime. The music of Grime is just as it sounds: dirty, nasty, and aggressively filthy. Producers combine unique elements of rap, UK rave, drum-and-bass, electro and dancehall into a spitting array of fresh beats and rhymes unlike anything heard previously. This bubbling scene has produced several breakout artists—Dizzee Rascal, Lady Sovereign, MC Kano and the Roll Deep Crew, to name a few.
This year’s version of the compilation aptly titled Run The Road Volume 2, delivers much of the same griminess, except with less vigor. It’s still fresh with continued innovations from new players’, but it lacks the urgency of the first. I may be that some of the material on Run The Road was born during the beginning of this movement in 2002 as the scene was morphing and expanding. No matter really—while still moving, Vol.2 doesn’t grip hard enough to stranglehold the listener as firmly.
This is not to say it lacks any compelling moments. The opening track “Get Set,” with stud producer Low Deep, provides an orchestral anthem for MCs Kano, Ghetto, Big Seac, Demon, and Doctor, who transport word play over supremely catchy aggression in true grime style. DaVinche, the killer producer of Kano’s “P’s & Q’s” from RtR, provides the backdrop for Crazy Titch’s aggressive rhymes on “World Is Crazy” and for Doctor on the jumpy “Gotta Man?” Other notables: Big Seac delivers on the powerful testosterone laden “Nah, Nah,” Klashnekoff flows with his impressive smooth burner “Can’t You See?” and the Dynasty Crew wreaks havoc on the bass-busting closer “Bare Face Dynasty.”
While Run The Road Volume 2 is a semi-letdown, it still resonates as a highly original hip-hop movement. If Grime style can infiltrate listener’s ears on these shores, maybe hip-hop can enjoy an impressive influx of further innovations that could de-stagnate mainstream, American hip-hop.