War In Grime: In Conversation With J Beatz

Written by Edward Burrell

J Beatz recently participated on the producer clashing platform ‘Beat Boss’ and has been a producer and DJ based in Enfield North London for about 13-14 years. Having reviewed one of his tracks already, Gyal From Brum and checking his live mixes on various radio stations such as Mode FM and Westside Radio, he’s truly talented. J Beatz is a key producer in the scene and his insight into clashing and war dubs is imperative for our ‘War In Grime’ documentary.

He has made a compilation of the all war dubs he used at ‘Beat Boss’ and put them on an EP entitled Warmonger; which is free to download. You can give that a listen in the background while you read this just to give you the right idea.

You have worked on Mode FM for a long time now, what first drew you to working there?

J Beatz: “Basically, it’s my mates station. I was involved with the station before it had a name and whilst it was being built; I was looking for a radio station to join so it just made sense to go to Mode. I was at Mode FM before it was Mode FM, literally day one.

Can you explain to us how ‘War Dubs’ work? What makes producer war dubs different to MCs?

JB: You have vocal war dubs where the MCs can say things about each other, but producers can’t really do that. The idea is that you have to take elements from your opponent’s tune, or several elements from different songs and put it one tune. Try and make it “War-ry.” Some samples from a sound-clash or anywhere else to give it that war like feel to it. It’s about trying to flip you opponent’s tune and turn it on its head. You’re trying to spin them musically by taking their tune somewhere else.

You have been on ‘Beat Boss’ before; can you explain how it all works?

JB:Tiatsim (Beat Boss host), will pull in the producers to participate in the clash. There are several rounds, the first round is anything goes, you can play released and unreleased tunes, war dubs, dubplates and so on. Round two is the remix round, where Tiatsim has a list of 8 tunes for the producers to pick from to remix.

Every producer gets a wild card to use only once in the whole competition. You can use a direct war dub or vocal dubplate instead of following the rules of that round. The final is exclusively war dubs. There are always 5 judges, but in each instalment, they rotate the judges. Every Beat Boss has at least one judge that is an MC, featuring the likes of Jammz, Mic Ty, Discarda and Hitman (Invasion)

Do producer clashes really get as nasty or personal as some MC clashes do?

JB:It’s hard for a producer clash to be personal, you can throw little vocal jabs in there and a few cheeky things, but it’s not as brutal. You’re not gonna see anything as personal as P Money vs Dot Rotten on the Beat Boss.”

Why enter Beat Boss in the first place? Had you watched producer clashes before?

JB:It’s always about exposure, showing off your skills and getting noticed. Beat Boss is always trending number one or two on Twitter, no matter what’s going on. You can have more known guys or less known guys so there’s variety too.

I think the exposure angle is right, I didn’t truly know about Lewi B until I saw him on ‘Beat Boss’

It is definitely more for the challenge and the exposure. You have 2 months to prepare all your tunes, vocal dubs, war dubs, remixes etc, etc, it depends on how far you really wanna take it. It’s like you said, you didn’t know about Lewi B before Beat Boss 3, and off the back of it he went on to do bigger things.”

Tell us a little bit about your new Warmonger EP and your favourite track from it.

JB:My favourite has to be the The Rapture 4D dub, I liked that one. I remixed two of his tunes for it Rag’n and Pink Shades, Rag’n was one of Grim Sicker’s tunes and Pink Shades was a free download. The Enemy Flow is another one I’m proud of, and Pre Dub 1 would be sick on set when I’m DJing

How popular do you think Producer clashes are? Is it something that is just for us geeks or does it have a wider appeal?

JB:The concept of producer clashes are niche and its MC lead. Big up NASS festival and Sicker’s studio so we could do Beat Boss live. Remember Grime is still new to people and we are playing catch up. Hopefully in the future we can have a Beat Boss live, a ticketed event, but it’s always been located somewhere in London so that people can get to it.”

How big is your dubplate box?

JB:I’ll be honest, it is there but it’s not a lot. I make some for myself and make a remix for certain tunes to play for a DJ set, but it’s something I need to improve on. I have been offered to do a DJ clash with all of my dubs but I reckon with my collection right now, I would get spun. I just don’t have enough dubs.

I get that, the people you would have to go up against such as Sir Spyro, Rude Kid, Logan Sama, Spooky or even Teddy Music. That is some tough competition definitely not easy.

JB:Don’t even talk like that’s light, If someone told me, do you wanna go head to head with Spooky, Rude Kid or Spyro, I would be like nah, I know my skin. I’m not tryna get myself bodied. But maybe someone lower in the ranks would be better for me in terms of a DJ clash

What would you say is your dream dubplate?

JB: “Wow, never really thought about that. Maybe D Double E on one of my tunes or remixes, or maybe Flowdan on an old school tune like “are u really from the endz”. That would be a deeper percy dub.

What have you got in the works right now?

JB:I have a lot of vocals pending, I got bits with Big Zuu, Uncle Mez and YGG. Not all together, but you know what I mean, although I don’t wanna drop too many names otherwise I would have no surprises.

What about Capo Lee, what’s your connection to him? You’ve got two tracks with him, Gyal from Brum and Serato (2015)?

JB:I met him ages ago when he wasn’t taking music seriously, he’s from North (London) as well and I heard his name all the time just through mutual friends in the endz. Back then he was known as “Leeman” when I met him, We just have a lot of mutual friends and through mode FM so it was bound to happen. I’ve supported him played his tunes and doing sets together, I’m not proper friends with many MCs but Capo is my brudda.

J Beatz helps provide a producer’s view on what clashing has done and will do for the genre of Grime.

Make sure you check out his Warmonger EP on Bandcamp and also The Remix Project below:

Photo Credit: @mattsmithies

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