Rising London MC on old-school riddims...

At just 17 years old, Lewisham’s Novelist exhibits the all hallmarks of an MC good enough and hungry enough to level with the genre’s foundation lyricists. Fiercely dedicated but, most importantly, perfectly in tune with what made grime such exciting music in the first place, he has flourished in the spaces abandoned by those who have chosen to pursue instant success over building from the bottom up.

A diligent advocate of radio, he’s spent much of the last year effectively in training, proving his credentials regularly across a slew of the capital’s pirates, as well as tapping into the blossoming worldwide network of producers fronted by London club night Boxed. Also a keen and precociously talented producer, his debut EP was quickly signed by leading grime hub Oil Gang late last year and its title track, ‘Sniper’, has since seen blistering remixes from fellow label starlets Murlo and JT The Goon.

Having recently made his Fabric bow as part of Rinse FM’s Easter showcase, we caught up with Novelist to get his top five instrumentals of all time, and get some insight into what makes him tick as both an MC and producer.

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Novelist, #LongLiveGrime on SBTV

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DJ Mondie – ‘Straight’

“I remember this as one of the first grime instrumentals I ever heard and I love it because of its simplistic format. It doesn’t have much to it but it’s sick because the groove doesn’t change through out and has a lot of space for MCs to do their thing. I recorded my own version once, but I might only let one DJ ever have it as a special!”

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Jammer – ‘Fire Hydrant’

“I won't lie, this riddim here has been one of my favourite instrumentals since I heard Jammer and Earz on Practice Hours way back. It came out on vinyl but I was too young to know about all that stuff. I’ve never forgotten it though, and I think Wiley has a version as well.”

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Dirty Danger – ‘Move To Dis’

“To me, this is one of the best grime instrumentals that ever came out. I first heard it on ‘Risky Roadz 2’, and most of the MCs that were big at the time featured on the DVD, spraying bars over this one instrumental. It made the beat a bit of an anthem in a sense. I found it and would not stop writing to it for years and even up to now, it still has the same impact on me as an MC.”

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Waifer – ‘Grime’

“I’ve always liked this beat, because of the gritty vibe it has to it. It was genius to use gunshots instead of snares or claps, and the sound of it on proper speakers will excite anyone. The riddim is just raw, that’s how I like it. The attitude is there.”

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Dizzee Rascal – ‘Strings Hoe’

“I’m not sure when this instrumental came out but when I was a younger I had a copy of the Conflict DVD, where the argument with Dizzee and Titch sparked. On that DVD is where I first heard the tune, and I was searching for it for ages. The strings stuck in my head for years so it’s one of my all-time favourites.”

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As told to Tomas Fraser

Find Novelist online here

Related: more Life At 140 columns

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