It has been a hell of a year for Of the Trees and Barclay Crenshaw. With a new label to his name, Memory Palace Records, and a nationwide tour that has nearly wrapped up, Of the Trees has enjoyed massive success within the bass music circuit in 2023. Crenshaw, likewise, has recently opened himself up to a wider audience than his usual Dirtybird Campout crossover fans with his performances at Wakaan Festival in both 2022 and 2023 (the former of which is available on SoundCloud here), as well as an opening slot for Of the Trees at his recent Red Rocks headline performance. ‘Blue Mile’ is the cherry on top this year for these two producers. Featuring the majestic lyricism of UK grime legend Strategy – one who has notably had just as successful a year – this is a do-not-miss track from three heavyweight dons of the bass music scene.
A single repeating note opens the track before erupting into fast-paced drum beats that mirror the speed with which Strategy spits out bars. The rolling drumline gives way to an angelic empty space halfway through the track, reminiscent of deep 140 bpm classics from the likes of Coki, Benga, and Caspa. The moment Strategy goes silent is the best kind of sonic whiplash, the kind of moment that makes one audibly gasp “Whoa…” There’s hardly enough time to piece together the first verse of the track before he comes roaring back in for the second between the hypnotizing bassline and sharp hi-hats. It’s a simultaneously filthy and poetic end to this composition.
Everybody knows I’m a UK don / But I’m back on my Transatlantic shit
Strategy does not miss a beat on ‘Blue Mile.’ Amidst the murky low-end rumblings of Of the Trees and Crenshaw, syllable after syllable fires through like a machine gun. It’s clear that the grime wave has finally cemented itself stateside, with Strategy himself remarking that he’s “Got a decent amount of American followers.” In this case, they’re well-deserved.
‘Blue Mile’ is a standout track for Memory Palace. Along with the likes of LYNY, Esseks, DMVU, and Of the Trees himself, Crenshaw is a perfect fit for the vibe of the label. Having recently announced a hiatus next year from his usual Claude VonStroke alias, we can only wonder what label we’ll see him collaborating with next. Longtime fans are still awaiting a second Crenshaw album, given that the first came out nearly seven years ago. Whoever it is, they’re in for a treat. If 2023 has given us any indication of the trajectory of these two producers, it’s safe to say they’re only going up.