Words: James Keith

When Bok Bok and L-Vis 1990 brought Night Slugs to the world back in the late 2000s, the UK underground looked a little different. Dubstep had just about died, grime was enjoying its second wave of talent, and UK funky dominated the charts and dancefloors alike. Generally speaking, it was a state of flux for UK club music and Night Slugs capitalised on that perfectly. Perhaps even more importantly, they successfully married the spirit of dubplate culture with the futurism of the digital world.

As one of its co-founders and bosses, Bok Bok was instrumental in that. Alex Sushon was already a mainstay in UK clubs, as a DJ and producer under a few different aliases before the Bok Bok moniker. After a handful of 12”s on labels like Glasgow B’more label Dress 2 Sweat and Brackles and Shortstuff’s Blunted Robots imprint (shout out “Citizens Dub”, which isn’t on Spotify), Bok Bok debuted his first Night Slugs release with the Southside EP, a five-tracker that fused bassline, ghettotech, grime and more into a club sound whose influence would reverberate through the decade that followed.

Sushon’s next EP for the label (not counting the Southside remix EP) would be 2014’s Your Charizmatic Self, a continuation of the club sounds from the last EP, but with an even more futuristic sheen. It was also notable for a stunning appearance from Kelela on opening track “Melba’s Call”, who had recently released her debut mixtape, Cut 4 Me, on Night Slugs’ American sister label Fade To Mind.

Over the years, Bok Bok’s sound has evolved dramatically, but with a logical throughline that connects it all. The Bok Bok of 2020 is almost unrecognisable from where he started. Last year’s “Pure Shoes”, for example, saw the beatsmith apply the same imaginative approach to breakbeat that he did with grime and UK funky in his early days. The OG Mix even features tinges of drill with its chunky drums and abrupt rhythms, but the finished product is far more than either of those influences. Whether he’s remixing or producing, Bok Bok is always 10 steps ahead and even his very first forays into music sound years ahead of where we are today.

Here are 20 reasons to love Bok Bok.

Posted on January 28, 2020