The first lady of grime misunderstands the whole 'genie' concept...
Given that most of the coverage of grime, the new guttersnipe breed of UK garage, has chosen to romanticise the sound’s rather unsavoury taste for cocked-pistol machismo, it might come as something of a surprise that the first major-label grime single comes from a girl. But 21-year-old Hackney dweller Chantelle Calica ain’t no lady. A hurricane of gleaming sportswear and feral street attitude, rabbiting mad threats in patois-mangled Londonese, the girl they call Shystie sprung to prominence in 2003 off the back of a cover of [a]Dizzee Rascal[/a]’s ‘I Luv U’ which ripped up the original and spat it back with varnished talons. “I ain’t here to make new friends”, she broods on ‘One Wish’, and indeed she ain’t. She’s here to blow this whole game overground.
‘One Wish’, you see, is Shystie’s one-way ticket off
the streets of Hackney: less an aspirational money-making anthem, more a plea for a hiding place outside the line
of fire. The original production is stern and oppressive,
all Dre-style jeep beats and needle-prick melodies that cruise the verses like blacked-out limousines. But the
real leap into the future comes on the 12-inch mix,
where Terra Danjah weighs in with a murky, über-grime production that crackles with gamma radiation and
laser-gun whooshes. Meanwhile, up-and-coming street
foot-soldiers Kano, Bruza and Ronnie Reds pick up on Shystie’s whip-crack rhymes and speed off from them on bug-eyed, chattery tangents.
Of a number of surefire UK garage successes poised to pounce this year – Lady Sovereign, Tinchy Strider, Kano himself – it’s only a coincidence this record is the first to bust. But so far, we’ve heard no other record this worthy of blowing open the floodgates. Here’s what’s going on while [a]Ms Dynamite[/a]’s off
worrying about landmines: it’s Return Of The Bad Gyal, Shystie-style.