- The best instrumental in grime?
- Rewind is a review series, published in partnership with Discogs, that dips into electronic music's archives to dust off music from decades past.
From the mundane to the absurd to the macabre, rumours and urban myths swirl online about the mysterious grime artist Rebound X. Some context: around 2008, RBX, real name Benjamin Darroux, seemed to vanish from the internet. He'd been a frequent poster on legendary UK music forums RWD and VIP2, where, among other things, he shared his latest bedroom productions. By the time he disappeared, he had one EP to his name, Land Of X, which came out in 2006. He never released another record.
The rumour mill still churns years later because Land Of X included "Rhythm & Gash Pt. 1," arguably the most popular instrumental in grime, bigger even than "Eskimo" by Wiley. Over the years, it's been spat over by the likes of Skepta, JME and Tempa T, and remixed by Sir Spyro, Flava D and many others. Despite all this, Darroux never resurfaced to take the credit. Some say he didn't even register the tune for PRS. Several versions are available to buy online, none of which are the original. It's the equivalent of Lil' Louis releasing "French Kiss" and never making a penny.
We can only speculate about Darroux's silence. A former schoolmate, who was active in the grime scene at the time, confirmed that Darroux was mocked on RWD forum when he first shared "Rhythm & Gash Pt. 1." Earlier this year, the grime producer Mr. Mitch corroborated the story, tweeting, "I thought it was shit and it didn't really get no love." Such brutal and early knock-backs could surely damage a young producer's confidence. This sentiment also stretched beyond the Wild West of mid-'00s music forums and onto the dance floor.
"If anyone tells you, 'Yeah it went straight in my set and was getting reloads all over the place,' they're lying—that just didn't happen,' the grime DJ Logan Sama told me. "But it started to creep in."
A key turning point was Spaceship Freestyle" by Skepta & JME. "It's tune of the month, are you dumb," Skepta says on the now-legendary Rinse FM recording from 2007. Both MCs loved the beat so much they included it on their debut albums: Skepta first with "I Spy" and then, a year later, JME with the popular Sir Spyro remix on "P." From there, "Rhythm & Gash Pt. 1" spread like wildfire.
"It became a call-and-response record," said Sama. "It's so distinctive sonically that it's really easy to recognise as it comes in. The drop is really impactful, and then it's just bouncy and fun the whole way through, in a traditional eight-bar grime style."
The first time I heard "Rhythm & Gash Pt. 1" was probably in my friend's car, which, for a good few months in 2007, only played two CDs: FabricLive 37 by Caspa & Rusko and Geeneus's Rinse 01 mix. It appears early on in the latter, sandwiched between "Intensive Snare" by Plastician & Skepta and Benga & Coki's "Night." Listening back, I can still taste the raucous energy coursing through that gold Toyota Yaris as the diva wails soared over the gut-punching heave of drums and bass.
"I remember hearing it and thinking, 'Yo, that's a really unique flip,'" said Sama. "Because at the time there were a lot of records that were using samples. A lot of inspiration from Dipset-era beats—The Heatmakerz and Just Blaze productions—and they were kind of crossing into grime. And there were people who had mixed feelings about that because to them grime had to be the sino, synth, squarebass... It had a very defined set of sounds. When people were using samples, there was a lot of pushback, so it was very interesting to hear this because it was a really unique way of using a vocal sample."
We may never know what inspired Darroux or how he feels about the success of "Rhythm & Gash Pt. 1." Yes, there's a punkish romance to his story—bedroom producer makes timeless record before quitting music—but to never reap the rewards? It's sad. Who knows what heights he may have reached. The hope is that he at least carries with him a deep sense of pride and satisfaction for having made one of the top bangers in UK music history.
"It does the job," Sama said. "It's route-one football. If you wanna score a goal and there's five minutes left of stoppage time, 'Rhythm & Gash'... it's not even the hit-and-hope into the box—it's the cheat code on FIFA. It's guaranteed, so guaranteed."
01. Rhythm & Gash Pt. 1