As the UK bass scene continnues to creep into America's EDM craze, artists are transitioning to more interesting sounds and exploring new beats that really shake up a dance floor. Raf Riley, the 22 year old producer from North London, is known for doing just that. Although new to many, Raf already holds quite the catalog of eccentric tunes. So it was no surprise when Mad Decent, Diplo's forward-thinking label, released Riley's new Now That's What I Call Gangster Beats!! EP on Monday.
The EP starts off with the aptly titled "WUNN!!" Intoduced by a nice little guitar riff, some synth play and garage sounding drums, which give the track a sort of gutty feeling. These aspects remain constant throughout along with a Looney Tunes-esc sample of something being launched or heaved into the air. "WUNN!!" is the perfect song to help ease one's way into the world of Raf Riley.
Although I feel the entire tracklist of NTWICGB!! should be judged as a whole, I think that "Super Raf" does the best job of exploring new territory. A solid drum groove loosely holds this track together, as it jumps from a spacey euphoric feel to a dark club vibe and back. I don't expect many people to be a fan of this one, but it is definitely not an experiment to be taken lightly.
"King Henry's Hustle" is undoubtedly the most recognizable track on the NTWICGB!! EP. Having been supported by Diplo, DJ Craze, and other prominent DJs for quite some time, it is nice to finally see this track released. if the Queen of England had a walk up song this would be it: a solid build up into a retro sounding renaissance beat. Along with its driving drums patterns, "King Henry's Hustle" will be a staple in many trap sets for the next few months.
"Gunshot" is without a doubt the track with the most crossover appeal, starting out with choppy vocals which lead into a very trill sounding breakdown. It is easy to see that Raf's UK roots are still very much retained while spicing things up with some North American flavor.
To conclude Raf's EP, "The Liquidator" does a nice job of changing up the vibe once again. Having listened to this track a few times, I feel it easily could have been a B-Side from a Crystal Castles album. Raf's futuristic sound remains in tact with some awesomely dead sounding drums mixed in with plenty of glitchy vibes.
Now That's What I Call Gangster Beats!! isn't going to get lots of love on the charts, or in the clubs, but that's clear not what Raf Riley is aiming for. A producer known for creating out of the box tracks, NTWICGB!! is on par with Riley's style. As artists look for more ways to diversify themselves, newer sounds will be explored and new styles will be created. With Raf Riley doing just that, it's no coincidence that his tracks are already making a splash in the blogosphere.