With Goldie’s full-length return looming on the horizon, drum n bass is set for a huge revival this summer. Often taken less seriously than its slower cousin dubstep and revered as less of a British institution than it’s older brother jungle drum n bass rarely racks up column inches in the British music press but now all that’s set to change. Or at least it is if the new EP by North London’s Happi, ‘Boy and His Imaginary Friend’, is anything to go by. Blending drum n bass with positive pop hooks and lighthearted songwriting, Happi pushes at the genre’s conventions, bringing in elements of black British music in all its forms. His vocals draw on afro-beats while his production spans high-energy drum n bass and tender, acoustic-inspired urban pop.
Running through it all is Happi’s unmistakable attitude; a mix of positivity and melancholy that’s perfectly in tune with whatever rhythm it’s riding. ‘The Introduction’ is an opening blast of clattering drums and confident bars, giving way to more subtle, delicate production on follow-up tracks ‘Southside’, ‘Lie’ and ‘For A Minute’. Penultimate track ’10 Feet Tall’ is the gentlest of the lot, just Happi and an acoustic guitar, letting his voice take centre stage. Finally, lead single ‘Forever’ ties it all together; afro-beats, drum n bass and that ever-present romanticism combining into a manifesto of a track.
‘Boy and His Imaginary Friend’ is a deconstruction of Britain’s black musical culture but one that’s personal rather than scientific, it’s the sounds of a life in North London picked apart and put back together to tell tales of love and hope, and it’ll change the way you think of drum n bass. Listen below.