- A remarkable debut from a South London poet.
- James Massiah's Natural Born Killers makes a strong case for artists experimenting outside their primary medium. The South London-born poet has built a reputation for his literary voice, which takes on the everyday and the romantic within the context of a rapidly changing city. His words have earned him commissions from Nike, collaborations with The xx and Massive Attack and an audience with Prince Charles. Making music, meanwhile, is a creatively liberating experience for Massiah. "I started producing to have a space where I could create that was free from expectation, people sort of expected 'good' poetry from me but they didn't expect any music from me, let alone 'good' music, so I felt free," Massiah recently told Crack.
Classic Chicago house and slowed-down eski grime instrumentals influenced Massiah's debut EP. The title track mixes dreamy, Mr. Fingers-style pads with the low-end roll and swagger of a track like Wiley's "Before This," provided you notch it down to 75% with that handy YouTube button. While many full-time house producers coax slavish recreations of the original Windy City template out of their Junos and 707s, Massiah's interpretation feels fresh. It glides along at 106 BPM, his breezy verse asking a lover just how far she'd go for him. "144,000," meanwhile, fits in with the milieu of modern, hypnagogic dance producers that includes Actress and Delroy Edwards. "Last Dance" doesn't fare as well, but on the whole Natural Born Killers is an astonishing debut, and we're not even getting into the Joy O mix on the vinyl version.
01. Natural Born Killers (Ride For Me)
03. Last Dance
04. NBK (Ride For Me) Dub