When it comes to UK music collectives, I feel that not enough people shout about Unit 137. For me, they are at the very forefront of Reggae music and sound system culture here. Not only are they a fully fledged sound system in their own right, at Boomtown they make up a third of Lion Unit (alongside Bristol’s Lionpulse and Qualitex sounds) which powers our Tangled Roots area, but they all make music as well, either as musicians, vocalists or/and producers.
A.P. Grimshaw, Deemas J, Ed West, Galak Spiritual, Hylu, Jago, Kosher, Sleepy Time Ghost (S.T.G), Zico are the individual members with collective projects such as Ghost Writerz and onlyjoe coming under their umbrella. Some of the gang are also involved with other Reggae groups such as The Drop and General Skank.
The video above is for a brand new track taken from their debut collective album, featuring a handful of members and a killer guest verse from rising Brummy rapper RTKal. With jazzy beats underlying the heavy Reggae vocals, it reminds me a little of L’Entourloop from Saint Etienne, but that’s never a bad thing at all.
The rest of the album draws on a multitude of familiar influences, Dub, Rocksteady and 80s Dancehall in particular, with other elements such as Jungle and Hip-hop also very apparent. It’s fiercely London sounding but I could also see it gaining much favour elsewhere, across Europe especially. Let’s hope so because if anybody deserves it, Unit 137 do.
If you’re at Boomtown this year, catch the whole crew at The Tangled Roots area, plus onlyjoe and The Drop in the Hidden Woods.