For those who've been away, grime has mostly outgrown its obsession with the arid landscapes of eski. In fact, there's not a whole lot of retro here, unless you count the purposefully thin textures of Visionist's "Dem Times." The dominant sounds on Grime 2.0 are lurid funk synths, dubstep basslines and the hissing rhythms of hip-hop and trap. The results are mixed; compare Chimpo's maximalist machismo on "Codeine And Dragon Stout" to Faze Miyake's pastiche "5000," which lazily cobbles together bland American rap touchstones.
Despite pervasive nostalgia for the supposedly lost brilliance of grime's early days, its sacred cows are still alive and kicking. Offering an HD upgrade on the original sound, Wiley's "Logic Pro" twists a wordless vocal sample like ribbon over a headbanging bassline. ("Pulse X" producer Youngstar hasn't aged as well, judging from his amateurish contribution.) The newer torchbearers, meanwhile, make the case that grime's best moments aren't limited to its legends: Preditah's demonic horn section still has a death grip on classic grime aesthetics, Slackk's "Spray" pumps out synth arpeggios like machine gun fire and former bassline head TRC's toned down and tuned-up "Cartwheel" shows how pared-down takes on the template can still sound fresh.
Though grime is inherently English, it's finally becoming an international phenomenon. NYC's Matt Shadetek turns grime cliches into carnival fare with the excellent "Battery Charge." Toronto's Tre Mission takes a Jersey club-influenced stab at Rihanna, with "Dollar Bill." If you heard either track outside the compilation, you might not immediately think of grime. The fact that they sit comfortably here proves how far the sound has stretched beyond the purist beginnings that it's so often fenced into.
Though it's way too long to listen to in one sitting, Grime 2.0 is catnip for the grime fan, and good bait for those new to or curious about the genre. It's an expansive and bravely warts-and-all look at a misunderstood movement still fighting hard for proper recognition over a decade later.