Music knows roots but not borders, and the same is true of Rudimental. Since forming in 2011, the London quartet of producers (Piers Aggett, Kesi Dryden, Amir Izadkhah, and Leon Rolle) has faithfully championed UK dance music’s hybrid spirit, fusing drum ’n’ bass, house, reggae, and more into a soulful amalgam. When they appeared with early singles like the barnstorming 2012 anthem “Feel the Love,” there was nothing else like them out there: UK underground dance tilted toward cozily retro house, while EDM was in ascendance around the world. Rudimental sidestepped both trends, favoring songwriting over club tracks and pulling from a broad range of inspirations—though songs like the shuffling “Spoons” proved them adept at the deepest strains of UK garage, and “Waiting All Night” could dwarf the biggest main-stage banger. Rather than hog the limelight, the producers turned the lens back on the multicultural stomping grounds of their native Hackney, whose famous Peace Carnival mural is depicted on the cover of their debut album, 2013’s Home. Similar themes of solidarity and community uplift powered subsequent albums; so did the group’s knack for finding exactly the right singer for their songs. In addition to their rotating cast of top-shelf contemporary vocalists like MNEK, Sinead Harnett, and Ed Sheeran, they brought in bona fide legends like soul icon Bobby Womack and South African choral group Ladysmith Black Mambazo. It’s a way of acknowledging that, much as dance music needs to keep moving forward, it’s nothing if it forgets its past.
HOMETOWNHackney, London, England