In the two years since Toddla T released his debut album Skanky Skanky the UK music scene has been shifting away from the indie kids and joining Toddla on the urban dancefloor. Along with his contemporaries Tinchy Strider, Tinie Tempah, Skream and Benga, Toddla T has been headlining stages at festivals such as Glastonbury and Secret Garden Party, not just T4 on the Beach.
Since his debut single, Toddla has worked incessantly, not just getting a regular slot on BBC Radio 1 but also producing remixes for the likes of Major Lazer, Hot Chip and launching his own label Girls Music. With all this under his belt, and with collaborators such as Roots Manuva, Skream, Ms Dynamite, Ross Orton, Wayne Marshall, Donaeo, Roisin Murphy and Shola Ama on board, Watch Me Dance sounds promising.
Instead disappointingly, his second album Watch Me Dance is front-loaded with the bouncy and very danceable singles ‘Watch Me Dance’ and ‘Take It Back’, it then peaks in one or two more places, but limps to the finish.
‘Watch Me Dance’, is the first track and second single from the album, featuring Roots Manuva. It’s a slickly-produced funky song which segues nicely into the already released ‘Take It Back’ a throwback to Chicago house music with a slice of Soul II Soul. The kind of song set to be heard all summer, it features Shola Ama on vocals and is the best track on the album. ‘Badman Flu’ is a jumped up drum and bass garage track which would also fare well in the clubs, reminiscent of Basement Jaxx with its high energy shouty vocals. From here, the album takes a detour to Kingston Jamaica, where some of it was recorded. ‘Body Good’, ‘How Beautiful Would It Be’ and ‘Lovely Girls’ are all interchangeable reggae dancehall tracks, in complete contrast to the earlier part of the album. Watch Me Dance is nearly rescued with ‘Do It Your Way’, which opens slow and sultry before breaking into a garage/dubstep hybrid to bring the heart rate up once more.
Watch Me Dance could have done without the Jamaican down time and stayed with the London street party with a smidgen more originality. It offers us a zeitgeist mashup of UK grime/dancehall/garage/dubstep sounds that while current, fails to offer an original twist.