Outside The Box


Skream's highly-anticipated second album finally arrives. Ollie "Skream" Jones is on a major roll. The Croydon DJ, producer and original dubstepper had the festival anthem of last year with his "Let's Get Ravey" remix of La Roux's "In For The Kill"; he's just been featured on the cover of NME with his Magnetic Man co-stars Benga and Artwork (not to mention the covers of DJ and Mixmag) and as we speak, he is all over Radio 1 with the lead track from Outside The Box. The tune in question, "Listenin' To The Records On My Wall," is the perfect introduction to why Skream's current level of success is just the beginning. It's a joyful, ragingly energetic celebration of the last quarter decade of British street music, inspired by the hardcore and jungle records used by his older brother Hijak. It's also a brilliant pop record that makes perfect sense to everyone who grew up surrounded by the breaks and beats of the 1990s and to those who didn't. This, however, is not a revival record. A natural-born modernist, Skream has selected 14 tracks that cover hip-hop (with one track featuring L.A. rapper Murs from Living Legends), bass-wobbling dubstep, dreamy electronica, a dark and tribal track with La Roux, and a strong dose of euphoric jungle on "The Epic Last Song" -- a track that is inadvisable to listen to while driving, unless you want another six points on your license. Outside The Box is the sound of an artist who is ready to take his considerable talents to a wider audience without compromising any of the raw, hedonistic, emotional, lose-yourself madness that has made him literally legendary to hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. Take "Where You Should Be," a song which features singer and songwriter Sam Frank. There's the 8-bit computer game inspiration of "CPU"; the Daft Punk-styled vocals of "How Real" featuring Freckles; the tuff-but-soothing heartbeat of "Fields Of Emotion" and the Jocelyn Brown-sampling "I Love The Way," which sees the first lady of disco pitched right down -- also heard during Skream's massive festival sets at Pukkelpop, Glastonbury and Roskilde. Towards the end of the album, there are moments that point in a whole new direction, like "Reflections," a tune written with talented drum 'n' bass-heads dBridge and Instra:mental. And then there's "A Song For Lenny," a sad and very personal musical dedication to a lost friend. Album aside, life is busy for Oliver Jones. He's back to DJing, switching up his sets to include 4/4, techno, garage and grime and, most weeks, hosting his Rinse FM show -- now alongside Benga. It's going to a big summer, inside and outside the box.