- Experimentations in instrumental grime and drill that take the genres into new frontiers.
- Paradise South, the first release on Bok Bok's new label AP Life, is entirely instrumental. The only intelligible word is Nammy Wams' producer tag—someone yelling "Nammy!" It sounds like the English-Vietnamese artist sampled family members angrily screaming his name in the fits of frustration usually heard in heated squabbles. These samples are processed through various audio effects, lending them a cartoonish quality and adding a personal touch to the entire LP that brings listeners into Nammy Wams' sometimes playful, sometimes cold-blooded world.
A follow-up to his 2019 mixtape Yellow Secret Technology, this full-length teems with emotional depth. It conveys everything from regal power, fatalism, nostalgia and reflection—an impressive feat given its lack of verses. Paradise South proudly wears its heart on its sleeve as it showcases a vulnerable side of life in Nammy Wam's South London. With a consistent tempo hovering around the 140 BPM mark, the LP has space to dig into the daily emotions that affect residents of the rapidly-gentrifying area.
The siren noises and melodic piano notes on "Terror," for instance, could be the soundtrack to a poignant mental journey through one's own mistakes, while hints of dreamy electro and mashed-up vocal samples on "Fears" make it the album's most introspective track. "Hannibal Hector" and "Punk," meanwhile, paint a dark atmosphere with harrowing keys, dubstep-informed low-end frequencies and tightly-wound drum patterns. It's not all doom and gloom though. Balancing out these sombre reverberations are "Pellets" and "Fuse," cuts rife with cheeky swagger that were made for indulgent nights out.
Feelings aside, the album also pushes at the sonic limits of grime. Make no mistake, Paradise South carries all the usual hallmarks of both genres—disjointed percussion, icy melodies (as heard on "Insides" and "Sherman") and menacing production in general—but it also features woozy drops, volatile basslines and warped synth lines. That's not surprising given how outspoken Nammy Wams is about his experimental antics. In a 2019 interview, he said "a lot of people are into the original plug-in sounds, the Triton keyboards, all of that, and I think that's great, but I think you can also engage with the new technology and structure your beats in a new way. Back in the day, 8-bar was probably the most a computer could manage. Now you can do so much more, more samples, more crazy effects, you can structure your tracks in crazy ways."
This sense of unpredictability is tangible on Paradise South, but it doesn't come across as calculated. Given how the LP ebbs and flows, it just sounds like Nammy doing his thing in the studio—whether he's in free-form mode or not doesn't really matter because of how organic the music feels. From start-to-finish, this LP is a restless but fluid ride that stays true to the hard-edged nature of grime and drill without relying on stereotypes or clichés, and speaks to the dynamism of UK street culture. Not only are these productions ripe for collaborations with local rappers, they set a high bar for Nammy Wams' future offerings.
04. Henry VIII
05. Hannibal Hector