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A Magazine for Sheffield

Crafty 893 Smart Dumb

Bold, brash and brief, Crafty 893's debut album is a prime example of grime retaining its clout in 2021.

Released: 9 April 2021
Smart Dumb

Part of a set of young artists bringing the simplest building blocks of grime production – the syncopated snare slaps, bold synths and hyperactive energy – to a new generation who may not have been born when Wiley, Dizzee and So Solid Crew first dragged the genre out of their laptops and into the public consciousness, MC and producer Crafty 893 takes to his role with skill and confidence on Smart Dumb. With playful lyrical punchlines and big beats, this is a sound that pays homage to a growing lineage but also swaggers with the strength of modern bass music.

Setting out his skilful flows over an emotive piano sample, opening freestyle ‘My Headspace’ kicks the album off with one of Crafty’s best performances. Bouncy and aggressive single ‘Wotless’ follows, led by the punchy rhythms of grime legend DJ Spyro. Later, ex-Roll Deep member Manga Saint Hilare offers a short, smooth feature on ‘Top Ten’ which really stands out.

Darkness descends on ‘Back It’, an ode to gang mentality complete with a soulful hook and pounding kicks. Even among the lyrical violence there’s a pinch of humour, with audio of a threatening phone call pitch-shifted up to chipmunk register. The brash, chromatic synths of ‘Raw’ hit hard, but they’re clearly suited to blasting from a car stereo or a club sound system – it offers little more than irritation on headphones.

At 28 minutes, Crafty 893 keeps things short and sweet with Smart Dumb. His bars ride the beat especially well on tracks like ‘100 Racks’ and ‘Goods’, so there’s enjoyment throughout, and with a mix of hostile braggadocio and upbeat party tunes, it’s a competent and fun record with hooks that will stick in your head. But it would be hard to argue that any boundaries are pushed.

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