I grew up with the sound of 90s US hiphop, aka the ‘golden era’ of rap. With its boom bap beats, interesting lyrics and unique, melodic flows, I was in love. Sadly, however, this love affair was on the rocks by the early 2000s when US Hip Hop became enamored with the pop charts, bling and R&B features. For a while, I was lost. At that time, UK rap was still emerging, raw and exciting, albeit hard to find. Then grime came along, which was a breath of fresh air. The complete antithesis of the bloated US pop-rap, grime was stripped back, dark and proper MCs gave it a uniquely British take.
Gus Stash's ‘Gutter Rats’ is a great representation of how grime has stayed true to its roots. Despite being nearly 20 years old, it continues to be relevant. Over a simple, syncopated beat, squelching bassline and Tetris-style melody, Gus spits bars full of wordplay and street slang, which I don’t pretend to understand; then again, I wasn’t exactly a NY coke runner in the 90’s and I still nodded along to Raekwon, however, my background is irrelevant as his flow is never less than captivating, and he is always relaxed and in control. His delivery is not as menacing or blunt as some of his contemporaries, but there is nothing wrong with that.
‘Gutter Rats’ doesn’t feel as claustrophobic as grime can often be, and the bouncy production could mark this track out as a ‘club’ banger – I certainly jumped around to it (as much as my back would allow), but don’t let this fool you, ‘Gutter Rats’ is equally a street joint. In his musical sphere, Gus keeps himself busy – not only is he 1/3 of Bristol-based collective ‘The Aristocrats’ (previously 1/4 – R.I.P. producer DUBL $WEGGRZ), but he is also the founder of DUBL Studios, which was set up earlier this year to provide a platform for young aspiring artists to create music – a move inspired by the free time his crew got in a local studio in 2012 when they were just starting out. The Bristolian MC has come a long way in the last six years, and this single proves he’s only just getting started. At the end of the track, Gus informs us that “I ain’t ever goin’ back to the race with gutter rats.” With his talent and vision, rest assured, I think he can.