From what I hear, Sheffield England is not a bumping metropolis. From listening to Toddla T, though, you’d gain a quite different impression.
Toddla T, the boy wonder known off-stage as Tom Bell, has been DJing since his mid-teens, is a resident DJ at Fabric, and makes frequent appearances on the BBC radio show “In New DJs We Trust.” His debut album, Skanky Skanky, was released earlier this year, and he produces fellow young British DJs and remixes the likes of Hot Chip.
On Fabriclive.47, Toddla T serves up many of his own tracks and remixes. Compared to the numerous other Fabric albums I’ve sampled over time, this came as a surprise—though a happy one. More accustomed to hearing almost-recognizable samples under old funk tracks and ‘90s R&B jams, TT’s blend of electro, house, drum and bass, and dancehall was a welcome change.
Of particular note are the small things: a random hymn sample that brought back days growing up in an evangelical church, singing “amen” in five part cycles, the women’s voices who fill in where beats just wouldn’t be enough.
It would be easy to mistake skinny white boy Toddla T for a large man of color based on his samples and influences alone. But who says race and ethnicity—or even gender—is directly linked to musical style, aptitude, or production? From the voices that boom from the tracks, it’s tricky to tell much about the young man behind the music. Maybe that subterfuge is all part of the plan.