Grime music is growing; it’s become a beast that not many would’ve predicted it would become.
Whilst the UK has obviously seen the culture and music of Grime from its very beginning, the US has, through no fault of its own, come rather a little late to the party.
Skepta has built ties with Drake, opening up an entirely new avenue of fans for him in America. The mutual hometown love of Toronto and London has connected with large parts of the youth in both nations. Konnichiwa was a global smash of an album that included international hits like “Shutdown,” features from the likes of Pharrell, which ultimately catapulted Skepta into the purview of US Hip-Hop fan territory.
The other UK Grime juggernaut who’s likely to follow suit is Stormzy.
Stormzy‘s impressive and diverse debut album Gang Signs And Prayer, which dropped a couple weeks ago, highlights the artistry and depth that good Grime music can offer to listeners with all sorts of different tastes. The subtle, dreamy vocal presence from Stormzy himself and guests like the Oakland, California songstress Kehlani, coupled with the heavy Grime bangers we expected, the album is a great example of how intriguing the genre can be.
I love both of them. Skepta and Stormzy have provided me and many other UK fans with anthems, memorable festival appearances, and projects which encapsulate the vibe and energy of London town. I’m pleased to see them both establish a serious fanbase in the US and we, as Grime fans, want the genre to keep riding the wave for as long as possible.
Now, I’m here to let you know that Grime has more talent than just the big two. I’m from a city just 30 minutes from London and I’d like to think I can help shed some light on the Grime artists who deserve some love from people in the States. You may know them already, but if you don’t, be sure to give them a listen.
Wiley is a Grime legend. He’s always had a strong presence in the scene and his music has often influenced up-and-coming MCs and producers. He’s been a major factor in the early career stages of several other UK stars. Often cited as the ‘Godfather of Grime‘, hence the title of his album which dropped this January. Other Grime artists have cited Wiley as a big influence in their careers, and songs like From The Outside and Bring Them All / Holy Grime have certainly contributed to that.
I know a lot of Americans are now listening to Giggs due to the songs with Drake on his project More Life. In fact, Giggs‘ streaming numbers within the US have more than doubled since the playlist dropped, even if some of the listeners have concluded that they think he’s trash. Being from his territory, this offends me. Anyway, Giggs and his menacing, unique voice is distinct in Grime. He’s known for his creative wordplay and catchphrases, and his project Landlord boasted hard songs like Whippin Excursion and The Blow Back.
JME is the co-founder of the iconic crew and label Boy Better Know. He was previously part of the grime crew Meridian along with his brother, a young man who goes by the name of…Skepta. His album Integrity is for sure one of Grime‘s modern classics and his quality is evident for all to see. He may already be famous due to his family connections but if you like fast instrumentals accompanied with harsh and bruising lyricism then JME is your guy.
In 2016 Kano‘s album Made in the Manor was nominated for the Mercury Music Award. The album also won ‘Best Album’ in the 2016 MOBO awards. He came onto the scene around 13 years ago and was voted ‘Best Newcomer’ award at the 2004 Urban Music Awards. Over the years, Kano has given fans a catalogue of outstanding Grime projects since then and I feel like he hasn’t quite had that US limelight, although I may be wrong.
Tempa T‘s mainly known for his 2009 single Next Hype which is considered an anthem of the UK Grime scene. Due to this song, Tempa T is particularly known for his crazy personality, something US Hip-Hop fans would surely love. He’s definitely the most mental out of all these guys so expect some proper ‘out there’ sounds, is all I’d say.
Best known for his number one hits Dance wiv Me and Bonkers, his debut album Boy in da Corner is considered a Grime classic and earned him the 2003 Mercury Prize. Dizzee has certainly made a more pop-centred brand of Grime, but that set the tone for many others to thrive off his legacy and vision.
Talking of pop-centred Grime, Bugzy Malone has been described as one of the key MCs instigating a ‘grime revival’, moving the UK urban scene away from more commercially orientated music. His 2016 project Facing Time sees him rep Manchester (you know…the place Drake calls ‘Gyalchester’) with pride and gives a great indication of how far the genre is going. Yes, Grime extends beyond just London town!
In the UK, there was some controversy in 2016 as the BRIT Awards didn’t nominate any Grime artists or music for any awards. Considering the BRITs is supposed to be representative of the best of British music, it was amazing to see how Grime was snubbed. Whilst the reasons behind that are debatable and perhaps reflective of deeper systemic award show problems, at the 2017 BRITs, Grime was everywhere. This was a positive for Grime and music in general; all forms of art deserve respect and Grime finally got some major props.
In regards to More Life, I certainly feel like this playlist, which I love, is a solid nod to the UK. Skepta, Giggs, Jorja Smith and Sampha all assist with solid contributions, highlighting their own individual skills. And Drake‘s apparent obsession with speaking like he’s from the ends of south London shows he’s a fan of us too. On social media, I’ve seen plenty of Americans hating on our accent and our style. Not only do I think Drake detractors were bound to say this just because our Grime has become affiliated to him, but I also think you must give our music more airtime. We have quality. It’s crazy I’m even having to say that because I’m sure there are literally millions of Americans aware of that already.
Anyway, if you’re a fan of what the big 2 are doing, then definitely take a look and a listen to these other artists. It’s important to widen your tastes and get familiar with as much art as possible, so if you really want to know more and get into Grime, consider this a starter pack!
Penned by our resident UK contributor GK.
Yell at him or argue with him on Twitter @gk_ennedy
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