Since its early years, grime—from a producers' standpoint, anyway—has always been caught in a bind between its most stripped-back raw bangers and G-funk baiting anthems, a weird sort of tension that can find dubstep-calibre wobbles sharing set time with synth guitar histrionics. Butterz and its cohort of producers—Terror, Royal-T, Swindle, Mr. Mitch—definitely lean towards the latter, but Elijah & Skilliam are no revisionists, and their first official mix CD proudly posits them as an equal to legendary grime DJ Logan Sama in their ability to effortlessly throw together bone-dry aggression with exuberant singsongy melody.
The opening stretch of the mix is typical, beginning with the itchy rave of Royal-T's "Orangeade" before climaxing with tracks like D.O.K.'s "East Coast," Swindle's "Pineapple" and Mr. Mitch's "Centre Court," all Butterz affiliates offering different but likeminded takes on brittle, electronic funk. It's not till the mix crashlands into P Jam's acerbic "Arizona Skyz" that we get a hint of the other side of grime, and even then the duo pull full throttle into Terror Danjah's overlooked "Full Attention"—a no-bullshit pop song coated with those same enthusiastic melodies as the rest of the Butterz-affiliated grime.
Rinse: 17 makes a case for the Butterz clan as musical innovators—the productions from their crew often pull grime to its musical limits. Royal-T indulges the genre's roots with a growing garage obsession on his "Royal Rumble" and fantastic remix of "It's Wiley," while Swindle intertwines both p-funk and even a little bit of prog rock into the mix. The mix also makes a case for Elijah & Skilliam as impeccable DJs, mostly avoiding the grime-plaguing problem of key clashing (a given when you're dealing with flamboyant melodies shooting off in all directions) and folding in occasional outsiders like Bok Bok's "Silo Pass" seamlessly. Like most grime mixes, it doesn't so much peak and valley as much as it trades in smaller, more contained detonations. Beginning big and ending huge, Rinse: 17 is both a victory lap, and—hopefully—a further stepping stone to greater things for two of grime's best DJs, a burgeoning label and a neglected scene.