Badness feat. Skepta & Lil Nasty – Nightmare review

No Hats No Hoods. It’s a name that certainly sticks in the mind, playing on irony, dripping with attitude, oozing a self-assured confidence. True to form, this glorious 12” on what is undoubtedly one of the kings of underground grime labels does just that. Rising to prominence with a string of high calibre releases, alongside their famed Dirty Canvas club nights, the No Hats No Hoods crew have certainly got their ting locked down. Enter Badness feat. Skepta & Lil Nasty, for “Nightmare” – the 10th release from the imprint.

The delectable spooky intro, growling “Nightmaaare” in breathy, ominous tones, sets a precedent for things to come. Cue a fall into a hissing, smashing drop, with Lil Nasty and Skepta spitting lyrics over a blend of aggressive, street-wise cool (“you guys need to wake up/ turn the bass up”) and creepy whispering (“You’re about to enter a dark, dark maze/ follow the red light to find the way”) and barking, sonorous bars. Its inky blank bassline penetrates the very essence of your being; a scurrilous interplay of spoken word, rumbling bass, jittering synths and hissing breaks prevails. DMZ’s Coki and Cotti deliver a decidedly more upbeat remix, full of bouncing, stepping rhythms, before Bristol-based HENCH producer, Mensah, comes up with a dollop of screechy synth-driven dubstep to break things up. Chiming the midnight hour with horror movie-esque thunderous gong and high-pitched wailing, he places the focus further away from the lyrics. Bassboy, in stark contrast, fixes up, looks sharp (to use an overused grime idiom), so that the words are spoken in discerning clarity, with more of a bassline vibe. It’s a cracking release all round, though – highly recommended.

Review: Belinda Rowse