Lil Silva cut his teeth in his hometown Bedford grime scene as an affiliate of Macabre Unit, where equally fierce competition and camaraderie pushed producers to find their own sound in order to stand out. Slapping a beat tag on your instrumentals was, in many ways, cheating: fans should know it’s your record simply by the sound of the synths, snares, and structures deployed. For Lil Silva, there was no reason why the grime scene wouldn’t have its own Pharell, or Timbaland, or J Dilla. Even as he stepped sideways away from grime, that belief and ambition never left him. The anthem status of his late-noughties UK funky cuts ‘Seasons’ and ‘Pulse vs. Flex’ was as immediate as it has been enduring. Some songs are timeless; others will always feel like they’re coming from the future. This is, Lil Silva has discovered, his sonic trademark. The addition of his voice to his songs has only compounded this quality.
He’s an artist confident enough to dip in and out of the limelight. His last sizeable chunk of solo material, the sweet-sung Jimi EP, came out in 2016. In the interim he’s collaborated frequently with George Fitzgerald on the pair’s house-leaning OTHERLiiNE project, as well as helming studio sessions and writing songs with chart-scaling pop acts including Mark Ronson, Adele, and Diplo.