Well Deep: 10 Years of Big Dada (Big Dada)

Longevity in hip-hop is increasingly rare, so milestones should be memorialized. Enter Well Deep, two CDs (31 tracks total) marking the first decade of U.K.–based indie label Big Dada. An offshoot of the quick-cut quarry known as Ninja Tune (home to Coldcut and Kid Koala), Big Dada has spent its dime of time offering gutter bangers and lyrical trepanning. Initially a showcase for establishing U.K. MCs in their own right (helping cement the status of Roots Manuva, TY, and Wiley, among others), Big Dada expanded its reach to France (TTC), Philly (Diplo, Spank Rock) and beyond, pulling from a deep pool of talent. Big Dada emphasizes rock-solid game and body mechanics over touting specs for specs' sake. Instead of convoluted electronics, you get a focus on flow in its many forms. Well Deep's Roots Manuva, TY, Infinite Livez, and New Flesh establish the touchstones of British boom-bap, with its low end in the frayed dancehalls, boots-knockin' swerve, and future funk's airlocks. With their productions candied and crunchy like some sort of Honeycomb cereal for the earhole, MCs including Wiley, Majesticons, Infesticons, Busdriver, Spank Rock, and TTC spit glitchy electro-cution. Beats go from schizophrenetic (Lotek HiFi, Shadowless) to minimalist and mentalist (cLOUDDEAD remixed by Boards of Canada, Bigg Jus). Lyrical sneers and dubby snare flares are the ballast, and overall, Well Deep is the buoy for charting a course into eclectric hip-hop's deep waters.

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