Melbourne, Australia via Leeds, UK rapper Joe Snow has taken a direct line back to his roots for his new video “Scallywags & Sound Systems”. The track will resonate on a particular frequency for those who enjoyed a misspent youth jumping trains, sniffing rails and causing serious ear damage at raves for their later selves to deal with, the little bastards.
“Scallywags & Sound Systems” is produced by Leeds duo Danny T & Tradesman, who provide a nasty dubstep beat straight from the classic 07 era, which sounds ridiculous because that was yesterday. They lace the beat with some ominous drill bits and haunting melodies, combining with the requisite bass wobble to generate a crushing atmosphere of absolute dread, which is why we loved dubstep initially.
Joe Snow skates over the beat with a singular focus, unwinding styles and rhyme schemes at Richard Hammond pace, littering references local in focus but global in reach all over the track. He switches flow at the drop of a switch a few times throughout “Scallywags & Sound Systems”, showing his versatility, while his lyrics are a love letter to his home town of Leeds and his nascent years spent navigating the sound system culture. Joe conjures an image which is at once specific and universal to anyone who has sniffed a pill off a frisbee before interviewing a farmer for local radio.
“Let me put the facts in place, crew down since back in the day
Back when a pack of Lamberts was 2 pound coins get one penny change
And in that day and age, that change on the train would take you to hell and back
Shit’s mad, that penny weighed the same as a twenty bag”
The video, shot by Chris Bromley, is sleek and streamlined, showing a continuous shot of a video camera with its side screen on display, showing flickering images of Joe Snow rapping and retro rave footage in what is undoubtedly an incisive piece of meta commentary. The track manages to be nostalgic without being overly sentimental and the menacing rumble of the beat provides a perfect counterpart to keep balance. There’s nothing wrong with reminiscing as long as you have scattered hi-hat patterns to bring you back to the present. Check out Joe Snow’s last album with Sinks for Australian label Pang Productions here and keep an ear out for “future” releases.