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Never in the history of grime has a production been so "pop-cultured" in a way that we've seen with "Rhythm & Gash" of late. This year—ten years after its initial release—Rebound X's haunting, soul-touching riddim has made its way from being a regular in MC radio sets, to creeping its way into club playlists by DJs who'd never usually throw grime in their mixes—causing a ripple effect on social media, where not a day goes by that it's not being mentioned by many unaware of its original roots.
The backstory goes: in 2007, "Rhythm & Gash" was ushered into a brighter light when Skepta and Jme did a "Spaceship Freestyle" over it, and then Skepta teamed up with Jammer and laced it again for "I Spy". Two years after that, Tempa T screamed new life into it—as did President T, but whose version is often (unfairly) forgotten about. Ever since then, this rolling, bass-bouncing riddim has been on the remix roll-call for bass merchants all over, most notably Sir Spyro, Murlo, and more recently—with a big co-sign from DJ EZ for her stomping 4x4 edit—Flava D.
Speaking about the impact of "Rhythm & Gash", UK producer Faze Miyake tells Complex it was a gradual thing. "I spotted it from the start of the year when I was going to parties," he says, "where you would never hear that tune, and the DJ would run it and be so excited about it. It has always been a smasher, but I think with the grime wave popping at the moment, every DJ just plays it as it's one of the most universal grime tunes out. It literally goes off everywhere, man. We need to find Rebound X and get him some dough [laughs]. And no EDM remixes! Please don't ruin it for the rest of us."
Dubstep and grime beatsmith Plastician believes we haven't even seen the half of it. "I don't think its popularity has even peaked," he says, "it's just become more apparent with so many grime acts playing big stages this year. On big stages, you're a little limited to playing stuff people know, and 'Rhythm & Gash' falls into that category of better known instrumentals. And this also applies to 'Pulse X', 'Eskimo', and various other sure-fire instrumentals. The big MCs need to deliver on big stages, and they need the perfect tracks to help lift the freestyle parts of their set. But in terms of chart potential, I'd say that with a vocal, 'Rhythm & Gash' could potentially cross over; with grime artists regularly charting these days, it's certainly not out of the question. It would definitely sell a few copies. As it stands, Spyro's remix is the only version available on iTunes."
From Kanye vibing to it during Skepta's recent KOKO set to it being reloaded at every UK festival going, it looks like, according to social media anyway, this lyric-free creation could potentially do some damage to the charts should it see a re-release. (We'd have to find the elusive Rebound X or chant girl "Angela" for that to happen, of course).
Here's how, according to Twitter, "Rhythm & Gash" has impacted UK music: