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Novelist Novelist Guy Mmmyeah Records

Novelist is a relentless innovator. In the space of four years, he’s gone from releasing 2014’s Take Time with Mumdance – an experimental track widely acknowledged as a jump-off point for grime’s mainstream boom – to collaborating with Nick Hook and Chase & Status. More recently, he pioneered Ruff Sound: a harder, faster strain of grime with beats shifting between 152-160 bpm. He’s also released two instrumental EPs, including 2014’s Sniper, a favourite at grime club night Boxed, and toured as the former leader of grime crew The Square, who released the anthemic Lewisham McDeez in 2015.

The 21-year-old’s debut album is an independent, self-produced record that charts his journey to this point. Although touted as the first potential grime star of his generation back in 2015 (gracing the covers of both Crack Magazine and then Mixmag in the space of four months) Novelist never really made the jump to the mainstream, nor did he give the impression he ever really wanted to.

As is clear across all 15 tracks on Novelist Guy, he is as switched-on as they come, a conscious lyricist with one eye on the rest of the world. One listen to Stop Killing The Mandem, a slogan he was famously pictured with at a Black Lives Matter demo in London back in 2016, and you realise he’s more than just an MC: “Until I get answers I’m gonna be on the roadside screaming Stop Killing The Mandem”. Not only are his bars a frank rejection of the trappings of modern life, crucially they’re also accessible, digestible.

The album itself rattles with fiery unpredictability. The beats are rough and ragged, aside from lush, ambient interlude Clocking The Game, moving between the playful glitches of Happiness In The Cold to the pure, weaponised grime thrill of Nov Wait Stop Wait – his most iconic bar, first referenced on 2014’s Take Time.

It does lack the polish and finesse of his previous work. Some of the more experimental cuts, including the dizzying, skittish rush of Man Better Jump, do miss the mark. But as a collection of tracks, Novelist Guy embodies the integrity and moreover the fearlessness that makes Novelist such a captivating young artist.