Adored by certain quarters of the underground, most know Ruff Sqwad as the East London grime crew that brought the charts pint-sized MC Tinchy Stryder.
During the group’s prime, however, they were making achingly romantic street music. As FACT’s Tom Lea pointed out in a past article, every Ruff Sqwad track “seems to be set at sunset, with the most evocative square-wave synths stretched across the skyline”, and singles like ‘Pied Piper’, ‘Lethal Injection’, ‘Misty Cold’ and ‘Anna’ are bona fide classics in our books.
A comprehensive Ruff Sqwad compilation has been speculated for years, especially given the critical acclaim that Terror Danjah saw in the wake of Planet Mu’s Gremlins, with veteran grime label No Hats No Hoods as natural a home as any (Rapid, who produced a large proportion of Ruff Sqwad’s classics, runs a studio with No Hats’ DJ Magic). And now, according to Twitter, things have started to move: today Rapid tweeted that Ruff Sqwad’s White Label Classics was “at the pressing plant”, while sometime FACT writer and Guardian scribe Dan Hancox has been about as open-lipped as possible about having interviewed Rapid for the project.
Of course, the title White Label Classics would imply a collection of past Ruff Sqwad releases, meaning that the classic ‘R U Double F’, never officially released, looks set to remain a lost dubplate in the peer-to-peer purgatory that is Limewire. But you can’t have it all. Expect more information on White Label Classics in the coming weeks, and listen to the classic ‘Misty Cold’ below.