Release Date: Feb 3, 2017
Record label: XL
Genre(s): Electronic, Rap, R&B, Garage Rap/Grime, British Rap, Alternative R&B
New Gen is the first compilation LP put together by the New Gen musical family, pulling together some of the most exciting and talented young musicians in the UK urban scene. Released on XL Recordings and supported by the likes of Red Bull, it carries the kind of backing UK hip-hop, R&B, and grime has so often longed for. However, the New Gen movement has been growing for some time; it was originally a playlist series curated by GRM Daily Editor and now XL Recordings A&R Caroline Simionescu-Marin that moved through radio show slots and parties to the creation of the New Gen Studio (in which this record was created).
You can find the beating heart of the U.K. rap underground online, somewhere among the thousands of kids desperately spitting bars on YouTube in hopes of getting noticed. On channels like SBTV, Link Up TV, and GRM Daily, no-name rappers spit (mostly written) rhymes for "freestyle" competitions, battling for relevance in a digital Hunger Games for the chance to be anointed as the next Stormzy or Skepta.
B orn from a playlist that became a live night and a radio show helmed by website GRM Daily's Caroline Simoniescu-Marin, New Gen provides a snapshot of London's fast-moving urban scene, where grime meets R&B. It's a compilation that doesn't merely compile; these tunes were laid down specifically for the project, taking cues from US trap sounds as well as London's Caribbean forms. You might have heard of smooth crew WSTRN, here with Loose, but the MCs steal the show.
This is the first album by a collective of U.K. rappers and singers assembled by Caroline Simionescu-Marin, an editor for grime website GRM Daily who also works A&R for XL Recordings. The album showcases emerging talent from the British rap, R&B, and dancehall scenes, including BBC Sound of Music 2017 winner Ray BLK and hotly tipped MCs Avelino, AJ Tracey, and Stefflon Don.
Curated by GRM Daily creative director Caroline SM, and featuring a tracklist that reads like a who's who of underground UK rap, 'NEW GEN' functions as a yearbook for one of the most exciting periods in the scene's history. Never mind the headlines that grime's grabbed this year, 2016 has been a far more exciting year for the relatively nascent rap scene. 'NEW GEN' is not a compilation per se, and there's a consistency to the production throughout, but the collaborative nature of the way the album was put together - Caroline opened up studio space in London and invited artists to pass through and collaborate - means that it remains varied enough to hold the listener's attention throughout.