As anyone who has even the most passing interest in new music will know, UK grime is enjoying a major resurgence. Once regarded as little more than a short lived scene that produced a few great records and then faded into obscurity, a new wave of MCs have made the sound relevant again over the last couple of years. Skepta and Stormzy are obviously the most visible leaders of the genre, but there are a legion of talented artists following in their footsteps and looking to forge their own path. The most frequently tipped as the next to blow is 19 year old Lewisham MC Novelist. Combining lyrical prowess with a determination to be original, it’s easy to see why he’s attracted so much hype so far.
The major thing that makes Novelist stand out amongst the current crop of grime artists is his willingness to pioneer new ideas. While he’s at home on classic sounding grime tracks like Endz, he’s also prepared to step outside his comfort zone and experiment with different approaches. His collaborations with producer Mumdance showcased his versatility, delivering darkly energetic tracks like 1 sec and Take Time and creating considerable buzz. Additionally, he recently delivered a new Prodigy-esque track, NRG, produced by Chase and Status.
Since teaming up with Mumdance, Novelist has continued trying to develop a unique style all of his own. After splitting with South London collective The Square last year, he’s focused on creating his own niche, trying to develop a movement he’s dubbed “ruff sound.” Announcing it’s inception via Twitter in May, Nov describes ruff sound as an amalgamation of UK genres including grime and jungle combined with high tempo MCing more related to ragga than rap. He’s already made a number of ruffsound tracks available via his soundcloud, showing both his skills on the mic and as a producer.
It’s too early to say whether the scene will take off and so far the “movement” consisting of little more than a definition and a few tracks. However it does demonstrate a boldness in trying to move his music forwards and lead the way for other artists to follow suit. Most recently, Novelist appeared on NTS to demonstrate the sound and give his explanation of its origins and development.
Aside from working on ruff sound, Novelist remains outspoken on Twitter taking on subjects as diverse as the differences between grime and rap to the EU referendum debate. While he clearly has a lot to say, so far the chances to hear him say it have been limited. While he’s frequently releasing new tracks and making radio appearances, a new full length project has been a long time coming. Currently signed to legendary UK indie XL Recordings, Novelist has still yet to release an album and hasn’t dropped an EP since 1 Sec with Mumdance. The appetite is clearly there, with Novelist already amongst Grime’s most critically acclaimed acts, but fans are keen to see him step up to the next level and deliver a début album.