Familial embarrassment and MSN Messenger aren’t the foundation that many musicians build their careers upon. “My older cousin was always playing garage and jungle and d’n’b, and I wanted to do what he was doing,” says JD Reid, producer, DJ, and radio host, thinking back to the summer holidays when, as an eight-year-old, he first got his hands on a pair of 1210s. “He slowly started teaching me. Oh, and also using me as a source of entertainment for his mates when they came over. He’d get me to mix in front of them.”
What JD Reid sounds like is hard to pin down. On ‘Tree’, his most recent mixtape and the inaugural release on his own Baby Gravy imprint, the adolescent Londoner’s soundtrack of The Neptunes’ smoothed out hip hop stylings and the abrasive abstractions of early grime (“at lunch break everyone was playing tunes off their phone and MCing. You got home and shared tunes on MSN Messenger”) coalesce into something that’s constantly shifting shape, never content to stay in the same lane. This is music that can only emerge from the melting pot of the modern metropolis. “It’s everything I enjoy, reshaped in my own way,” Reid says.