Words: James Keith

Born and raised in Sheffield, aka “the Steel City”, Tom “Toddla T” Bell’s music has always been a convergence between Caribbean sound system culture and Northern rave music. He kicked things off in 2007 with the storming Do U Know, a 12” release which saw Mr. Versatile, Kezia Bienek, Serocee and Trigganom lend their whipcrack flows to four bassline-inflected dancehall bangers—plus a set of remixes coming from The Count & Sinden and Rob G. That first EP put Teezy on the map and every last one of the tunes on that EP remains a fan favourite in any live setting.

Over the years, Toddla T’s music has branched out considerably from the dancehall and bashment of his earliest releases. Even his debut album, 2009’s Skanky Skanky, was a bit of a departure and saw the beginning of his expanded palette. Later releases, particularly 2017’s Foreign Light, have featured more and more from the worlds of R&B, house music, hip-hop and grime, while still drawing heavily on the Caribbean influences that raised him.

That expanded sound has led to work with a wide-ranging selection of artists, including collaborations with Roots Manuva, Stefflon Don, Shola Ama, Jammer, Spragga Benz, Benjamin Zephaniah, Nadia Rose, Coco, Roisin Murphy, Tinchy Stryder, Rachel Foxx, Moss Kena and Andrea Martin. Then there’s the Machines Don’t Care supergroup, a mega-collaboration that saw Toddla T join forces with Hervé, Sinden, Trevor Loveys, Affie Yusuf, Fake Blood, Detboi, and Luca Venezia for a one-off album in 2008. And that’s before you even get to the endless list of remix credits he’s accumulated. He really has packed in a lot.

Now, three studio albums and a decade into his career, Toddla T is as prolific as ever, showing no signs of slowing down yet. While we celebrate over Toddla T’s 10-plus years in the game, what better time to dig back through the archives?

Here are 20 reasons to love Toddla T.

Posted on February 13, 2019