Best Of British: Best Artist Album - Toddla T 'Skanky Skanky' (1965 Records) | DJMag.com Skip to main content

Best Of British: Best Artist Album - Toddla T 'Skanky Skanky' (1965 Records)

Premium digital dancehall!: The Sheffield steel of Toddla T's classic debut…

"This is everything I've always wanted in one year," reckons Toddla T. "It sounds cheesy, but it's a dream come true. The album added to that pie of stuff that's been happening this year."

It's all pies, pies, pies with these northern lads. Toddla's debut album 'Skanky Skanky', voted the Best Of British Best Artist Album, dropped in May this year. A more unexpected set would be hard to imagine. A skinny white boy from deepest Sheffield making premium digital dancehall? It doesn't sound likely. But 'the boom DJ from the Steel City' pulled it off, thanks to a deft way with an 808.

Featuring, among others, guest slots from Roots Manuva, Tinchy Stryder, Arctic Monkey Matt Helders, poet Benjamin Zephaniah, Hot Chip's Joe Goddard and MCs Serocee and Mr Versatile, 'Skanky Skanky' was easily as rude as anything emanating from Kingston. Yet 2009 was the first year that Toddla, aka Tom Bell, visited the place in which his music was born.

"I needed to do it. We went into the studio for a couple of days in Kingston, and then up into the hills to chill out. It was an incredible experience, not just musically but culturally. It proper changed my outlook on a lot of things. The talent over there is fucking nuts! I just sat there and let it all pour in. It felt like being right at the root of everything, going in deep at the heart of it. Amazing."

Since the album dropped, the doors have been flung open.

"People take me a bit more seriously now. Now, if I ask people if they want to come to the studio, they're on it straight away. Roots Manuva was always one of my heroes. Tinchy Stryder and Jammer, I used to watch them on DVDs when I was in Sheffield and thought they were amazing. I never thought I'd ever get the chance to collaborate with them."

His CV now boasts a monthly residency at London's Fabric (as well as being given the opportunity to program one of its coveted mix albums, which was released this summer), five tracks produced for the last Roots Manuva album and, most impressively, a slot in Radio 1's In New DJs We Trust rotation.

"Landing my Radio 1 spot was absolutely mental. I was blown away. Doing radio wasn't on my list, it was something I'd never thought about. Now I'm properly enjoying it."

The next album is on its way too, so far boasting studio sessions with Ms Dynamite and grimey types Wretch 32 and Maxsta.

"Well, they're from grime, but they could spit over opera, they're not limited." Opera dancehall? We can't wait...

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  The Other Nominees

Jamie Jones 'Don't You Remember The Future?' (Crosstown Rebels)Silicone Soul 'Silicone Soul' (Soma)King Roc 'Chapters' (Process Recordings)Sei A 'Editing Shadows' (Missive)