When Bad Boy Chiller Crew dropped their debut mixtape ‘Full Wack No Brakes’ back in September, the irresistible joy of its release was only tempered by the fact that there was nowhere to go to dance to it — no clubs, no festivals, no foam parties. Left instead to their depraved social media antics as their primary method of promotion, there was a sense that if BBCC could just maintain their momentum then 2021 would be the year where they could finally meet their masses.
It looks like the tinnies will align for them this summer to have a genuine shot in the spaces where their music best thrives: huge groups of mates out on the piss, looking for a good time, not a long one. Having promised NME that their viral popularity was opening new budgetary doors, ‘Charva Anthems’ definitely hints at a growing ambition. The production is shinier, the hooks are pitched higher and the rap delivery is so urgent that it recalls the kind of value-for-money rush you see in the dying minutes of a Student Union happy hour, double-fisting VKs until the walls spin.
Lyrically speaking, not much has changed. Kane is still the most dexterous wordsmith, but GK and Clive hold their own, speed-demoning their way around Bradford while duck-diving from cops and divvies alike. The bassline bounce of ‘Don’t You Worry About Me’ is begging to be played in their beloved JD Sports while ‘Get Out My Head’ feels straight out of the ’90s, pooling your spare cash to run wild on the dodgems of the travelling town fair.
‘She’s My World’ brings some much-needed tonal variety, proffering the redeeming qualities of a deeply-flawed partner: “She’s my ride or die / I love those eyes / Come jump up in this Merc… got make-up on my shirt”. There’s a hint of Alex Turner’s wistful “cuddles in the kitchen” at play; an endearing insight into the trials and tribulations of young love among all the turbo shandies and KISSTORY CDs. As the only song on the EP to explicitly match up the narrative of the verses and the hook, it’s a nice display of BBCC’s more vulnerable side. It won’t be long before kids are playing it from their phones at the back of the bus; their very own sincere bassline banger by way of T2’s genre-classic ‘Heartbroken’.
At five tracks long, ‘Charva Anthems’ is less of a reinvention as it is a reminder that Bad Boy Chiller Crew are here to stay. Some of their references — Page 3, Schumacher, being a dog “like Marley” — could do with a modern update, but that’s perhaps missing the point. BBCC’s work is a love letter to noughties nostalgia, not necessarily a bid for Gen-Z genius.
How long they can keep it up is anyone’s guess, but with a sesh this strong they’re making a keen bid to bring dance music back to the working class. Maybe some things really are better in the North…
- Release date: May
- Record label: Relentless Records / Sony Music