Levelz - LVL 11

Mixtape Review: Levelz – LVL 11

In Grime by Nick Russell

Levelz – LVL 11 mixtape review

Levelz – LVL 11 – 99 years ago, the atom was first split in a pioneering experiment conducted in Manchester. It was the work of scientist Ernest Rutherford, who understood that an atom is made of a nucleus with a cloud of electrons orbiting it. And orbiting Manchester’s potent musical nucleus are the fourteen members of the Levelz crew, pushing a sound which fragments that nucleus and turns the explosion into something colossal, bass-heavy and inescapably Mancunian.

Our review

The length and breadth of the musical terrain covered by the members of the Levelz crew is formidable. The roles are fluid, but on the whole production duties fall to Biome, Bricks, Chimpo, Dub Phizix and Metrodome. And the mic is kept warm by Black Josh, Chunky, Fox, Skittles, Sparkz, T-Man and Truthos Mufasa. Jonny Dub and Rich Reason. Round things off as the crew’s resident DJs.

Having already hosted a takeover on Rinse FM and appeared in session for Toddla T’s Radio 1 show. On Monday the Levelz crew will drop their most ambitious project to date, a 13-track mixtape called LVL 11. Its name is a tip of the hat to the catalogue number naming policy of legendary Manchester label Factory Records. Which brought the world Joy Division, the Happy Mondays and the Hacienda. And the giddy Manchester ethos is preserved, centre stage and draped in the stark, often self-deprecating humour.

Levelz on Bandcamp

Two of the tracks – LVL 07 and LVL 09 – have been out as pay-what-you-want downloads from Levelz’s bandcamp page (https://levelzmcr.bandcamp.com/) for some time. And the marriage of the cataclysmically gritty beats with mission-statement verses from each of the Levelz MCs. This proved a perfect introduction to a collective henceforth known for chaotic free-form cyphers.

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If we thought we had the measure of Levelz after these two releases, the Christmas Day drop of ‘Slow Down’ split like a curve ball. With Bricks on production, the jazz-flecked chillout had more in common with live Manchester hip-hop band. The Mouse Outfit than Metrodome and Biome’s watertight grime on LVL 09. It also features on the mixtape – closer ‘Jazzface’ taps into the same vein, if a little more intricate and with a little more bassweight.

If it wasn’t already glaringly obvious, the mixtape does not fit neatly into any genre and in fact spends most of its 13 tracks taking a size 10 Air Max 90 and a Vimto to any attempt to classify it.

The mixtape LVL 11 drops on Monday via Levelz’s bandcamp – https://levelzmcr.bandcamp.com/