On the opening track of Terror Danjah’s new LP, Undeniable, MC Dream Mclean spits “I been waitin’/but I swear down/this is the grand opening/and I’m here now.”
The statement is apt not only for the aspiring lyricist Mclean, but for Terror Danjah (pronounced “danger”) himself. Although the veteran grime producer began to cut tunes nine years ago, and has since put countless releases to his name, Undeniable feels like his most complete and refreshing work to date.
Speaking on the phone from his East London studio, Terror Danjah explains: “I wanted to showcase that, yes, we can do grime, and that, yes, we can do proper music in line with everyone else as well. That’s what I wanted to prove to the world.”
Although there are at least five classic, weighty, grime riddims included (voiced by MCs including D Double E, Mz Bratt, Griminal and Bruza), the album also moves through multiple other sonic dimensions. It touches upon UK funky, two-step, gutter house, dubstep and electro. All are styles from a palette that Terror Danjah has built since 2001, and which he is now putting to full effect in an attempt at broadening his listenership in a way that fellow underground producers Magnetic Man and Rusko also have.
But whereas his contemporaries may have lost some of their ingenuity and experimentation in attempts at topping the charts, Terror Danjah has stayed true to his instinctive creativity, making Undeniable an accessible but progressive record.
“I wanted it to sound like every time you listen to a tune you’re always spotting something different and you can actually feel, as a listener, that time was taken over the music and that I care about making people listen.”
One of the most striking elements about the LP is that many of its tracks follow hand-crafted narratives in which, within three to four minute timeframes, anything could happen. Although perfect DJ fodder, Terror Danjah’s latest productions are tailored for the listener, with aural elements in constant, unpredictable flux.
“I’m always the one giving the orders, so for me to be produced by someone else was really hard. That’s why the album came out how it did. I went to Kode 9 and said ‘what do I do?’ Because he’s got it locked. He’s a genius. I wanted to take some advice from him. He crafted a lot of the records himself.”
“He’s pushed me to work harder in different areas. He’s pushing me out of my comfort zone.”
On “This Year (Pro Plus)”, one of the vocal tracks off Undeniable, Mz Bratt chats, “I heard your album and it’s OK/But is it better than mine?/No way/Cos we keep hustlin’ all day/And now we’re movin’ up, up and away.”
The young MC is brilliantly affirmative, referring to a work ethic that runs right through grime, and which Terror Danjah is building upon now more than ever.
Undeniable is part of a new wave of records coming from a re-energised grime scene, which is agitating for – and succeeding in getting – more media attention and, in turn, more listeners.
“Everyone’s been pushing each other to do things, to the point where we’ve stopped for two seconds and realised people are saying,” says Terror Danjah. “It’s good. We’re not doing it for the fame. We’re doing it because of the love of the music, as well as furthering our careers. This is our nine-to-five. I have no other option than to do this.”
Although released nearly a decade into Terror Danjah’s career, Undeniable feels like the exhilarating beginning of something much larger than anything he has accomplished before. The album is a milestone; one bubbling with kinetic energy, but the man behind it knows there is more to achieve.
“The more time that lapses, the more you have to take it seriously and go ‘wow, I can’t go back no more.’ It’s almost like Dungeons and Dragons.”
Undeniable is out now on Hyperdub and is available in all good record stores. Listen to Terror Danjah on Myspace here.
For our pick of this week’s best gigs, exhibitions, club nights and events along the East London Line, check out our “Pick of the Line” here.