Hailing from Birmingham, Heavyweight Grime producer ‘Filthy Gears’ has hit us with almost an hour long, pure Grime, vocal project, backed by his own widely acknowledged, and extensive production skills. Man like Filthy is coming for the bag on all levels, and has determined that nothing is going to stand in his way.
Having paid his dues to the scene he loves, lives and breathes, for long, still (evidenced in the intro, the skit and the final track to the project ‘Stick To The Plan’, via a series of voice notes and shout outs), Filthy has determined that he’s got more than a bag of riddims for the rest of the Grime scene to build empires from, he’s got the history and the bars to level any one of them man, and it’s time to collect the bag and build an empire of his own.
Having started with a Halloween EP in mind, which got delayed, Filthy released the freestyle ‘Wet’, which promptly acquired a wave of positive feedback, and decided he didn’t want to stop at an EP, so went for creating a full album. Having begun rapping, and writing bars at the young age of 10/11, where he used to rap on house tunes, Filthy explains that this is what lead him into production, but that he lost focus for a while, because he was on roads a lot of the time, in his youth.
Throughout this project we get various snapshots into this ‘early’ Filthy Gears. Both ‘Shellers, and ‘War’ feature reconstructed old bars, and the second verse of ‘Wet’ is around 7 years old. These songs, ‘Old Bars’ (which features patterns starting with bars written a decade ago), display the type of aggression and recklessness associated mostly with youth, where we see Filthy display a ‘take no prisoners’ style attitude, to both his life and his opps. By the end of the ‘Old Bars’ riddim, as well as on all other tracks in the project, there is a definitive, more refined maturity in both topic and style.
The project is kicked off with a traditional style album intro. Backed by high pitched, bowed strings, a sub bass and hard kick, occasional rolling hihats, and computer like synths weaving over the top, the riddim is a quiet backdrop for a clip of Filthy’s kids asking him to play football, followed by voicenotes from a host of MCs, including Ten Dixon, PK, K9, Tiatsim, Vader, Logan Sama, P Money and The Grime Violinist, all asking for them Filthy riddims, opening up the project by showing the respect he’s gained in the industry, straight off the bat.
Track 2 ‘Fallout’, the title track of the album, is a further display of Filthy’s heavyweight status in the game, with features from some prominent grime scene members; SupremeKy, JoSoSick and Logan, all spitting about doing up Grime easy, putting in the work, having a long game in mind, and not being fake. Filthy patterns the war cry (hook); ‘Fallout I drop bombs on man/Fallout I got riddims that bang/Fallout I wipe man of the map’, further letting man know from the jump, he knows he’s got everything it takes to clean up. The shelling is backed by horn stabs, some sort of offkey, vocal choir synth as a continuous backdrop, and a distorted low, low bassline, which is all very ominous, offset by a light skippy drum pattern. A jarring entrance that makes you sit up and take note.
The third tune on the project ‘Mental’, is the first ‘all Filthy’ track on the album. Characterised by a heavy, rousing beat, this riddim is patterned from a deep, distorted brass bassline, and a strong brass melody, with high strings that follow the same pattern, a heavy kick/snare, and occasional rolling hihats, with the bass dropping lower still, during the main bars. Filthy layers his vocals to create a heavy, full effect for the hook, which is an ode to production ‘That’s mental, look what I did to the bass, that’s mental, make a man screw up his face, that’s mental, my tunes mash up the place, that’s mental’. Filthy shells over the rest of the riddim about people tryna buck him for P when he blesses them with a tune, but that he don’t need anyone to shell on his riddims, these times, still. He shares he’s given away far more than his dues, in beats, and he’s coming for it all himself now. A warning in both beat and bars, fr.
The 4th riddim ‘Ice’, featuring Popzzy English, comes like its title, with a distinct drop in temperature. With doubled up end bars, put through some sort of robotic style filter, backed by a high end, haunting soundscape, a high pitched synth melody, pitch bent, and high-end synth accents, this cold riddim matches Popzzy’s stark, aggressive shelling style perfectly, as he shells the hook ‘Ice Ice Ice, Everything cold is cold like ice’. At other points in the track we hear a muted bassline and quiet drum patterns, and, where the spitting drops down the scale (mostly during the main bars) the melody follows suit. During the riddim, Popzzy shells about coming for everything, including your girl, and Filthy shares a similar approach, explaining that he’s tired of the Mandem tryna make a stack off him for free, he knows how big he is in the scene, still; ‘I spread my sound like a virus, now the whole scene’s contracted flu/Use my sound like second hand shoes, I’m not blind like Mr. Magoo’, expressing that it’s time he was paid his dues, and he’s sick of people biting his style. Packed with energy and ‘cold like ice’ this one makes you feel to mosh in your living room, and has you yelling the hook randomly at your passing family members, still.
‘Action’, the 5th track on the project, comes with a strong brass section for the melody, and some light strings play over the top, then as the track drops proper, a dirty, distorted bassline is added, the melody falls back, and a heavy kick is added, with a rolling snare. The whole track has a heavy, dramatic tone to it, and Filthy comes hard with it, shelling about how he’s sick of the fakes in the game and hearing all talk, but seeing no action from them man, and he’s tired of people catting his style, them man are gonna regret mistaking his kindness for weakness, because he’s been in this alone for a long time, still; ‘Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah, I hear bare talk but I see no action/Roll on my ones, don’t need any faction/They hear the tag, and the tune gets traction’. A hard hitting riddim.
Track 6 ‘Shellers, Feat. Crafty, comes with a sense of real urgency laced into the beat. With a string-like bowed synth melody, bass stabs and the occasional synth accent, Crafty kicks of the hook, before the pattern kicks in completely ‘I don’t wanna hear about sheller/Man get merked off in sheller...’ as the riddim drops proper, there are loads of ad-libs, a simple kick/snare and what sounds like a closed, backwards hihat and an occasional wavey synth floating over the top. During the track, Crafty and Filthy take 8s and both shell about coming for the bag relentlessly, having MCs shook off their bars, and being busier than all these man. This one’s hard, but wavey simultaneously. A vibe.
‘Let Me Know’, the 7th tune on the album has a slightly more garage-y feel to it, coming with reverb on percussions, heavy bass stabs, a vocal choir soundscape, skippy drums, a deep sub bass (with an occasional separate bassline), and the haunting vocals of Bethony Kay. Filthy shows once again, the breadth and depth of his skills and talent, on production, and both Filthy and Bethony weave a tale about being depressed, being broke, being lonely and scraping yourself up to make shit better for yourself, still, as well as wishing the best for those you love. An emotive riddim, with a dancey, garage flair. Wavey.
Track 8 is a skit, backed with rolling snares, a simple melodic string pattern and a sub bass, Filthy mutes the whole track and lays a few more voice notes from some more heavyweights in the game asking for riddims, over the top. We hear from Riko Dan, Logan, Spyro, Flowdan and Mr ??? Filthy is at the top of the scene, still, before he ever drops a bar.
Track 9 ‘Phoney Mates’, Feat. Razor is a return to hardcore Grime. Kicking off with a bell synth, and a high pitched soundscape, as Filthy spits the hook straight up ‘I ain’t relying on mates, I ain’t relying on fate/I’m putting graft in daily, man don’t wanna pay rates/I ain’t relying on bring ins, or no auto tune singing/Just turn up the bass real loud, and they’ll see its crud I’m slinging’, and about halfway through a heavy horn bassline, plus bass stabs enter the scene, with the bassline developing into a more distorted pattern, later. Filthy spits about his passion for the music, how hard he works, how his riddims got him ‘being chased by majors’, and how jealous people get over the fact that he’s earned it. Razor comes like ‘I like war, it won’t end well for you, still, if you come for me’. Wordplay, technical skill, and on point delivery in the riddim, are displayed by both MCs, still. Energy crew.
The next riddim on the project ‘Queens & Kings’, Feat. Vader, has a softer tone to it, beginning with a dramatic piano melody and light string synths in the background, with intermittent choppy vocal synths, the riddim becomes slightly fuller as the bars drop, with a deeper bass notes being added from the piano, and a simple drum pattern playing underneath the track. Filthy and Vader pattern the riddim gently and emotively, as they share songs from their pasts, about lost friends, lost hopes, lost innocence and lost youth. Another excellent example of the breadth of Filthy’s repertoire, and an excellent choice in feature, Vader did it justice. Deep.
Track 11 ‘Old Bars’ is another return to pure Grime, laced with classic haunting vibes. The intro starts with a piano melody, with some plucked strings laced over the top, and a filtered, repetitive vocal sample. As the riddim drops proper, it becomes creepier still, with a sub bass, hard, atmospheric drums and occasional brass that gets progressively more intense. Filthy patterns the riddim with the reckless, aggression of youth (these bars are ten years old), but the riddim would sit comfortably amongst the New Gen Scene, still. Hard.
‘Corrupted’, track 12 on the project starts off with jarring ‘Psycho’ vibes on the piano, and there is a brass section playing long, offkey notes that add to this atmosphere. A screaming vocal sample comes in, and then Filthy comes in, alongside skippy drums, and a change in pitch for the melody, lending it an eerier still, quality, which is matched by Filthy’s bars. Filthy spits about realising early that the world was fucked for black and brown skin people, and he ain’t felt right about shit since, music being his only relief. He shares that he’s clocked how the media do man dirty, lying on man and supplying man with false idols and fake dreams to chase, he shares the feds are never off his case. A dark tale of how life really is for poc. Cleverly jarring.
Track 13, ‘Wet’ come like retro 8 bit vibes. Filthy opens the riddim with a very high pitched string-like synth, brass stabs and a kick to match, as well as open hihats, before the riddim drops proper, where we get bowed string stabs at times, a changing synth melody, and busy, skippy, ever changing drum patterns. Filthy shells it down on the Freestyle, talking about he’s got the whole ting on lock, still, he’s got beats and bars, a call to war would hit like coming up against a ‘whole military’, these times. We hear that filthy’s bless rolling on his ones, as he trusts no man, that he knows he can win, as he’s really from roads, and these man are mostly fakes in this ting, still. He’s coming for the whole cake. A wavy freestyle, received so well, that it sparked the whole album. Big.
‘Consequences’, Feat. Nesta, the 14th tune on the album, kicks off with a haunting choir synth, a snare, rollling hihats and distorted synth stabs, then as it drops proper, the drums get busier, with the kick coming in late, a muted bassline comes in and out, and the vocal sample becomes choppier. The whole tune has an off kilter vibe to it, with an uneasy feeling to it. Filthy and Nesta pattern the riddim with a mix of straight bars and robotic style hooks. Nesta comes wavey with it, spitting about how he’s doing up Grime and MCing easy, being only a year deep, he’s already doing better than a lot of these man. Filthy comes hard, with it, still ‘I’m in every rave like pills/I’m the reason MCs get wheels/Poor little yute thought he had skills/Them little bars won’t pay no bills’, reminding us that he’s got more to do with some MCs successes, than they have these times. Boasty, but not wrong.
Track 15 ‘It’s War’, hits hard from the jump, starting with a high pitched string melody and muted drums along with Filthy’s bars, later more high end synths are added, which change in pattern regularly. There’s a deep sub bass, busy, light drums and occasional skippy snare. Using bars from early, again, Filthy chats war throughout, sharing ‘war mode’ is like being in neutral for him, he’s seen and done enough to be shook by very little, still. A mosh.
The closing riddim on the album ‘Stick To The Plan’ provides a dramatic, ‘Grime to the core’, exit for Filthy. Kicking off with a vocal choir synth, heavy brass stabs, the occasional bass wobble and a hihat keeping pace, Filthy comes in strong from the off ‘I put all my faith in God, and me I stick to the plan/I pick up the mic and spray my bars I stick to the plan’, as the riddim drops proper, we get a heavy kick/snare pattern and plentiful rolling hihats, with big cymbal crashes which punctuate an occasional change in melody, to strings. Throughout the riddim, Filthy spits about his love of grime, and his place in it, asking ‘Which mc am I meant to fear? I’m still coasting, I’m in my first gear’ in reference to his shelling skills, and shouting out previous collabs, with man like; Wiley, D Double E, P Money, Ghetts, Prez T, Solarge, Tempa T, Merky Ace & Jammz, some serious heavyweights in the game (which ain’t even the half of it), in reference to his production capabilities. Later he shouts out all the new gen MCs who he believes have real passion for the ting, man like ‘PK, West, Crafty and Kamakaze, and likens himself and his skills to man like Sinatra, Danté, and Kanté, all heavyweights in possession of a ‘masterpiece’ or many, in their respective fields. The riddim closes on Filthy’s tag line. Dramatic. Poetic.
Having set out to give us a pure grime album, both an ode to the genre he loves, and a complete project to prove his talent and skills, both on mic and on beat, plus enlighten us as to his growth as an artist, via the change in tone from his earlier patterns, to his current, sharper and more focused works, Filthy Gears has absolutely delivered, on all counts. Filthy is ready, on all fronts, to come collect the bag from the scene he’s given it all to.
If you’re really about Grime, cop it, cop it, COP IT!
Man like Filthy coming for it all, watch this space...