I’ve got to be honest – as a new blogger, I didn’t expect to be writing about Wave Gang’s Ten Dixon again quite so soon. The reason that I find myself at the keyboard again is because, unexpectedly, Ten announced the release of “Chabba” (it drops on Friday!) on Twitter the other day, and not only that, he blessed me with a copy in advance. Now, I’d only recently covered Ten (and Jon E Clayface) in a post here, but the chance to assess if Ten had progressed from last years “WAVE” mixtape was too much to resist!
The good news is, yes, Ten has not only improved on “WAVE”, but he’s actually managed to make a mixtape that can be played from start to finish, an achievement not many MC’s manage.
The overall style of this mixtape can only be described as “fucking hard!”, with the majority of the tracks gripping you by the throat and refusing to let go until the beat fades out. Production is mainly provided by Shannon Parks and Spank Cook, with the rest of the beats coming courtesy of Danny Yen and Nizzy Trap.
“Chabba” gets off to a very solid start with first track “E Triple L” ft Jamkay, a statement of intent for most of the mixtape. Shannon Parkes on the buttons for this one, bringing a fizzy Grime beat that allows both MC’s to let off some energy.
“Am I Loud?” is the next track up, and sees Ten lacing bars over Spank Cook’s Trap inspired beat. “They can’t stop us”, Ten adlibs at one stage, “we are here!”, a clear indication of Ten and Wave Gangs determination to be heard in the Grime scene.
Third track, “Wally”, sees Ten joined on mic duty by Esskay. “Wally” allows Ten to show off some humour, as he laughs at people that buy in to the lifestyles of American rappers. “Zim-zimmer, tell me whose got the keys to the Astra?, A$ap Rocky and Jay-Z gassed ya”. Parkes back on production for this one.
“Peace Keepers” is a return to Grime and sees Ten step up the pace again against a backdrop of hard bass and Street Fighter samples provided by Parkes.
It’s at this point that “Chabba” starts to go mental, as Ten is joined by Clayface for one of the album’s highlights, the pure Hip Hop of “Anonymous Slaughter”! Nizzy Trap’s atmospheric choir-driven beat is the perfect setting for Ten and Clayface to go fully HAM, and both are happy to oblige, turning out fast, multi-syllable packed rhymes that almost threaten to ether off the listener’s face. I’ve always prefered Clayface on mellow beats, but again, he raises his levels here and compliments Ten’s brutal vocal delivery. Banger.
And it’s out of one banger and in to another for the brutal “Pulsing”, a Danny Yen production that’s possibly the most straight up Grimey thing on the mixtape. Ten goes in fully on this one too, and I’m likely to have this on my MP3 player for a while! If you’ve heard “Lengman” before you’ll have some idea of what is in store on this one.
The unrelenting pace continues with “Darkside” which again features Esskay. This, IMO, is probably Parkes best production on “Chabba”, and “Darkside” is yet another one for the MP3 player.
“With A 16” is yet another savage track and sees Ten joined by Minarmy’s Pawz. Danny Yen bringing the Grime realness to this one again. Both MC’s do their best to try and tear out their own voiceboxes on this one, and the result is a track so filthy that it almost fired me up to go out looting! Danny Yen’s harsher productions definitely bring out the energy levels in Ten and I hope there are more collaborations between the pair in the future.
The last two tracks on “Chabba” are the more down-tempo “Life Ain’t What It Seems” and “Make It Happen”, both produced by Spank Cook of Roaming Zombies.
Both tracks are a good way of closing out the album, showing the deeper and more introspective side of Ten, and ones that give the listener a chance to unpeel themselves off the ceiling after the onslaught of the earlier tracks.
“Life Ain’t What It Seems” features Charlie Tree’s and D Rogers, both new names to me, but ones to watch for on this evidence, as they bring skippy flows to compliment Ten’s more direct lyrics. The track addresses how hard it is to make a breakthrough in the Grime scene, but I find songs like this, and the similar “Make It Happen”, to make a refreshing change to some of the more “designer label” orientated MC’s out there.
So overall, I’d say that “Chabba” is Ten’s best effort to date and shows continued progress from “WAVE”. This post is now on over 800 words, but if I had only 4 words to use, I’d say “Fucking Hard, Download now!”.
Top tracks: Pulsing, Anonymous Slaughter, With A 16, Darkside.
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