“Why you getting mad cos they love me in the manor?”
In grime circles N.A.S.T.Y. Crew are legend. A collective centred round the estates of Bow and Hackney, N.A.S.T.Y. were affiliated to almost all of the major players in the scene, but imploded in a series of incarcerations and beefs before they could taste the pop success of Roll Deep, or the longevity of Boy Better Know. As a result, there are no musical skeletons in the NASTY cupboard–they never found themselves delivering shit ‘urban pop’ for uncomprehending labels, and so their legacy remains untarnished.
This week, I’m going to post some NASTY tunes – they’re all pretty rare, ripped direct from 12”and unavailable anywhere online in decent quality – if anyone from NASTY wants me to pull them down I’ll happily do so. This is a prelude to trying to tackle NASTY’s history – I’m chasing interviews with members to try and get some traction amongst the forum posts, abandoned myspace pages, mixtapes, radio sets and 12”s that make up the source material in the story of N.A.S.T.Y. Until I actually speak to the members of the crew, I don’t want to tell the story – there’s enough bullshittery about NASTY online without me needing to add any…
N.A.S.T.Y. – Cock Back
These tracks are ripped from the original 12”, and rather than the (imo inferior) version that appeared on the classic Run The Road compilation, this vocal features sick appearances from Crazy Titch and Riko Dan. This was the first grime track I loved. When it came out I was a massive dancehall fanatic, and this tracks glowing 8 bit blips made direct reference to one of my favourite Jamaican instrumentals - Bookshelf Riddim. Listening to the work of producer Terror Danjah often makes me think that in his case the idea that grime is a British version of hip hop is a fallacy – it’s actually a British version of bashment. The dubs of Cock Back bear this out, and I’ve uploaded two here – the first is the Magnum and D.O.K. remix taken from flip of the Cock Back 12”, the second is another mix from Magnum and D.O.K, taken from the Pay Back EP – on this mix, they strip the rhythm track away to nothing, leaving bass hits, synth menace and gun clicks and shots to carry the beat; it’s pure dub ideology applied to London gutter beats, and sounds like nothing that came before it
Black Jack ft NASTY – Alcohol / Nasty Gang Banger
Later period NASTY crew, this 12” has the full crew (as it was at the time, they mention acts leaving in the lyrics, presumably referring to D Double E who isn’t featured) as well as a spot from Griminal, who sounds about 14. The rhythm from Black Jack is peerless, mangled soul vocals and strings running over smashes of percussion, quite probably inspired by the kind of wide screen production and pitched up soul samples American hip hop outfit Diplomats were pursuing at the time. Unlike most of the other NASTY tracks, this didn’t get a release through Terror Danjah’s Aftershock stable, instead coming out as a one sided promo on the short lived On A Level Records, explaining it’s scarcity.
Armour – In The Biz
Armour is often unfairly dismissed as the weakest of the NASTY MCs, but I reckon he delivers on this cut – plus it’s another excellent hyped up dancehall production from Terror Danjah, ripe with all his trademarks – the weird demon laugh, the Nintendo power up sounds, the sparse, urgent percussion and dubwise bleeps and delays
Demon ft Kano – Gangsta Toys
Not strictly a NASTY Crew release, this 12” is from a time when Kano was still an integral part of NASTY – the NASTY name makes it onto the label. This is probably one of the harshest tracks he was involved in – everything from the nauseous beat to Demon’s no-room-to-breathe flow is set to maximum tower block claustrophobia. It’s punk as fuck and a listen to the blocky square wave bass of the instrumental proves that the grime producers had dubstep on lock far before any of the Croydon lot showed up.
Rossi B & Luca ft NASTY – In The Place / Run For Cover
On a rhythm put together by Rossi B and Luca – who ended up releasing tracks through Planet Mu, this cut features Nasty Jack, and Stormin over a dutty woodwind stomper – I always find it funny that grime must have done more for the profile of oboes, cellos and bassoons than any amount of school music classes. Lyrically it’s a snapshot from the mid 00s, dealing with how they get hated walking into the rave, pretty much for being grime kids, but still don’t give a shit– “we’re gonna enter the rave, murk it quickly, then get paid”
Run for Cover is based on a cut up of Damien Marley’s Welcome to Jamrock, which for a while, was played at every dance I went to. It’s more bashment/ grime crossover, and whilst maybe not one of the greatest tracks NASTY were involved in, still holds its own.