Mixtape Review: Ruff Sqwad – 2012 EP

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“Ruff Sqwad’s back, let the challenge begin.”

 Legendary East London Grime crew Ruff Sqwad declare on their free 2012 EP. Yes they’re back, with a few minor adjustments – Fuda Guy has left. Has the absence of one of the original members, put a dampener on their new EP?

Already from the opener, Ruff Sqwad sound rejuvenated and full of life. You wouldn’t even notice that they’re a member short. The EP opens with the lively Lights On, the track is vibrant and bouncy. The production is pristine, and the vocals are clear. It’s a good intro that sets the rest of the tone of the enjoyable EP. The next track is RSMD remix, a rework of the legendary Man Dem. RSMD is actually just as good, Roachee’s verse is a highlight. Every MC sounds competent and energetic as ever.

RSMD isn’t the only reworked track, Ruff Sqwad classic Anna Down has also been giving a 2012 makeover. Anna 2 is just as full of life as the original and has the hype that made it such a timeless Grime track.

 2012 EP isn’t just fully Grime, it also experiments with other genres. The collective sound cool and calm on Hip Hop and on more percussion based beats. Ruff Sqwad try out drum heavy production with Think. The crew aren’t overpowered by the simple yet powerful production. The previous track Dats How I Like It featuring JME also has more percussion. Dats How I Like It has elements of Funky House. They also test out Techno music, Hectic Projective Flo leans towards the Techno side beat wise, but the lyrics are surprisingly thoughtful. Dirty Danger raps “I was born and raised in the place of theft”, referencing his East London roots.  They flirt with Hip Hop again, as the crew take on Drake’s Headlines. Their rapping doesn’t sound too bad on the Boi-1da and 40 production.

Overall the 2012 EP proves why Ruff Sqwad are a legendary crew, because they are comfortable and in control of all genres. They can seamlessly float from Grime beats to Funky House beats and not sound odd. The production is as fresh and striking as ever. The reworked versions of classic’s don’t lose their magic, and are instead refined and refreshing. It also says a lot about a collective that although they’ve lost a member their music is still as good as ever. If this is how Ruff Sqwad are starting 2012 by conquering all the genres and making new classics, it will be interesting to see how they’ll end it.

By Ella December

@EllaDecember