Scratchclart, Menzi – Beyond Gqom & Grime
The potential relationship between gqom and grime reveal significant similarities between the two styles, with both arising from Black, urban spaces and driven by the disillusionment of radical Black youth culture. These similarities have begun to be explored by pioneers of both genres, the recent collaboration between DJ Lag and Novelist Bulldozer coming to mind off the bat. Didactic title aside, the collaborative EP from London’s Scratchclart (AKA Scratcha DVA) and Durban’s Menzi Shabane, Beyond Gqom & Grime, proves electrifying. The two engage in a captivating exchange that interrogates this relationship, extrapolating on its similarities and fearlessly confronting its juxtapositions to formulate a sonic dialogue.
Across five tracks, the producers showcase their ability to rework each other’s songs, collaborate on remixes, and co-author original pieces that link their two worlds. It makes sense that Scratchclart, a seasoned grime veteran with a taste for African club rhythms, and Menzi, a pioneering force in his local gqom scene, should find kinship in one another. Having encountered gqom during a trip to Johannesburg in 2011, Scratchclart has already spent years fusing it with grime on his DRMTRK series, while Menzi has pushed gqom further toward its industrial influences. In this sense, both artists embrace the potential for evolution in their specific genres, with both taking bold swings that push for innovation.
One of the standout moments on the record occurs when Scratchclart and Menzi collaborate to remix Scratchclart’s early grime track, Nasty, Nasty, Nasty. Infusing the original beat with gqom-inspired percussion, chopped vocals, and deeper synth sounds, the result is a darker and more robust. Conversely, Scratchclart puts his touch on Menzi’s Shandis with an airy and melodic remix that draws from grime’s softer RnG sub-genre. These creative choices highlight gqom’s physicality, while showcasing how its emergence provided a gateway for British grime producers, like Scratchclart himself, to explore more weighty and crushing sounds. While Scratchclart gravitates toward the tactile, Menzi’s remixes of tracks from the former’s DRMTRK universe are far more concerned with atmospherics and the properties of space. Menzi adds a sense of depth and complexity, with wetter and darker elements on tracks like IC3, or a more translucent rendering of Drm Walk accompanied by sirens and the impression of rain.
On their sole collaborative track, Q, they sample a YouTube tutorial aimed at teaching isiXhosa to English speakers. It’s a spicy touch of irreverence, a tongue in cheek commentary on the Western world’s continued fascination with (and sometimes appropriation of) gqom. Going beyond the conventions of gqom and grime, breaking the boundaries between the two and ultimately giving their blessing to the inevitable copulation of both styles, Scratchclart and Menzi find commonality in curiosity. In channeling their shared passion for sonic exploration and fearless experimentation, they’re forging a unique sonic path for future innovators to follow.
Listen to Q from Beyond Gqom and Grime below.