Back in those heady days when every kid and his dangerous dog were swapping tapes of the latest grime radio sets on the bus or in the playground, Durrty Goodz (or Doogz as he was then known) was one of the names at the very top of the game.
A rapid fire dancehall tinged delivery, with a technical side often lacking from the embryonic grime scene was his trademark, and he is probably the only MC to have clashed Wiley at that time and come away with a win or at least a close run draw. Inevitably labels came sniffing around and Goodz was snapped up in the same feeding frenzy that saw Wiley, Dizzee and Kano become the first wave of high profile artists to emerge out of that bubbling pot of beef, radio clashes and sporadically terrifying but genuinely buzzing live events that was Grime in the early 00’s.
Unfortunately, due to various problems including a high profile murder case involving his brother, Goodz never managed to establish himself as a bankable artist and could have easily faded into obscurity. The fact that he didn’t is testament to his talent and determination. His return to the scene with the Axiom EP was a breath of fresh air, with its emphasis on intelligent lyrics that dissected the scene, road life and pirate radio culture. His choice of forward thinking beats, mostly Dubstep with a bit of Grime and Garage, captured the mood of the time perfectly. He carried on the same theme with slightly less impact on his next release Ultrasound, and then released Born Blessed, a Reggae influenced Hip-Hop mixtape (hosted by KRS-ONE of all people), which wasn’t my cup of tea but was well received by both the grime and hip-hop fanbases he’d built up over the years.
Which brings us up to Overall, a release being promoted as Goodz’ first “proper” album release, with promises of it being “stadium grime” and the grimiest thing he’s ever released. As someone who’s a huge fan of Goodz it pains me to say it but Overall fails to deliver on those promises. The album starts strongly (but far from grimily) enough with My Life, a panoramic view of life in London’s estates with Goodz playing his role of street narrator to perfection over a sparse, dramatic hip-hop influenced beat. Things start to go downhill with Imagine, a clumsily executed concept tune about the what if’s and might have beens in Grime and Hip-Hop over the years. Don’t Ask Me and What’s My Name are by no means terrible but the music sounds tired and dated while Goodz spits bars in typically energetic fashion without really going anywhere. Oi Wot U Looking At, the lead single, is just average dubstep with some rapping on it, it sounds about 3 years old already, it’s got a bit of energy though and at least Goodz goes in hard on it. Only Thing is a passable slice of 140bpm hip hop. The title track Overall is probably the first bit of actual Grime on the album with Scratcha/DVA handling production duties, and it should bang out but it doesn’t quite work, Goodz’ flow is technically amazing and the chorus is catchy but I can’t help feeling he’s done similar things in a much better way in the past. Badda Dan Ninja and Who’s Daa’t are standard filler tunes with more sub-par production; in fact I’d say the beats on Overall are the main problem with it as an album. Only a couple of tracks actually live up to the vocals and with so many talented producers out there working in the borders between Grime, Dubstep, House and Hip-Hop I think it’s a shame that Goodz didn’t take advantage of this.
The album should end with Changes, an impressive piece of self aware lyricism albeit let down by some more distinctly average production. The addition of the overlong Battle Hype at the end of the album seems totally unnecessary. The idea is an impressive one, Goodz plays the parts of various Grime scene legends and has them clash over a strong Silencer/Teddy production, but at 11 minutes long I got pretty bored of it and wanted to stick on some old Doogz vs. Wiley radio rips instead. Goodz will make much better music than this in the future and while Overall will satisfy the ardent Goodz fanboys and girls, anyone looking for something approaching the levels set by his previous outings will be sorely disappointed.