From Rinse FM and pirate radio in the early 00’s to bunking off school and listening to Channel U, Sidewinders and Lord of the Mics in 2004, the UK music scene has grown massively. Social media’s prominence has definitely helped.
The sound might not be the same as the fruity loops produced, clangy, alien-like grime beats of 15 years ago, but as time goes on things do change and UK music is on the map like never before.
Grime has definitely made its waves erratically.
Eskimo Dance did a lot for the scene and the likes of Logan Sama and Westwood gave many artists a platform.
The US has certainly shown love for UK music over the years and continue to do so.
From P.Diddy’s ‘Hello Good Morning’ with Skepta, to Twista jumping on a remix with Lethal B. Twista was in fact one of the first US artists to get on a track with a UK grime artist. Fast-forward ten years or so and Drake is BFF’s with Skepta while Chris Brown collaborated with Section Boyz.
However, many of the original artists seem to have ghosted…
Some were set to blow but didn’t have longevity.
Take a look at Roll Deep for example – one of the first grime groups to hit the mainstream, but where are they now?
Tinchy Stryder had several UK chart hits but again, where is he now?
How can we forget Ruff Sqwad or Tinchy Stryder’s iconic ‘Tings in Boots’?
I couldn’t help feel disheartened that my teen idols Kano and Ghetts seemed to of gone missing for a while and it all seemed to be about Stormzy and AJ Tracey or Afro-beats, but it’s a different movement I guess.
Ghetts recently celebrated 10 years of Ghetto Gospel (WOW!). It’s artists like Ghetts and Kano that stuck to their own thing and never sold themselves out. At some point they may have thought: “Oh I need to try this pop wave and go mainstream” – and indeed did just that – but they seemed to of quickly snapped out of that mind frame and continued to stick to their roots.
From Ghetts’ loyalty to the music, he is looking to have an amazing year and exceeding people’s expectations that many thought he couldn’t reach since Ghetto Gospel.
That’s not to say that the newer generation of artists are sellouts, but feeling nostalgic I can’t help but wish it was the grime veterans that were all over our TV screens and mainstream radio. Ok, so Skepta is hugely successful and won the Mercury Prize 2016 and has Drake and Kanye’s approval.
It’s the original grime artists who paved the way for the younger generation of UK rappers. I suppose everyone has or has had their role to play in the journey and evolution of UK music. We can’t always be stuck in the past.
Dizzee Rascal who’s music played a massive part in my life growing up with ‘Boy In Da Corner’ being the most iconic grime album in grime history, was one of the first artists to hit the mainstream but he did eventually fizzle. But did he care? He made his name and his millions. People accused him of turning his back on the scene for financial gain. However, four years since Dizzee’s last album, he’s recently released his sixth album along with a UK tour. The question people might ask themselves though is this: Has Dizzee made a comeback because he felt it was his time to? Or is it because he has seen how UK music has continued to rise and rise up in recent years and he wants a piece of the pie? Like he said on his track ‘I Ain’t Even Gonna Lie’ from the new album ‘Raskit’: “I ain’t even gonna lie, I want a piece of the pie.” Who knows? – What I can’t get my head around is that Dizzee seems to be the only artist who almost sounds bitter towards the newer generation of UK artists – “They all wanna be me, they can never be me” type of attitude, as well as sly digs towards Stormzy and even turning down a collab with him. Not forgetting to mention the fact that Dizzee’s whole new album had no featured artists.
That brings me back to the subject of being stuck in the past. Yes, Dizzee has made a comeback and he’s brought it back to what he knows best – pure lyrical ability and quick, aggressive flows but with a different edge to it. My point is, that some of the day one artists have kept it moving with the times, some haven’t, some have carried on doing their own thing and it works. On another angle, some have tried to move with the times and it’s taken away their authenticity.
Wiley, grime’s creator, also went away from grime with mainstream tracks like ‘Wearing my Rolex’ and ‘Heatwave’. This year he has released ‘The Godfather’ although he claims this will be his final album. I find that hard to believe since he was recently awarded MBE from Her Majesty herself! (AMAZING!) He has even brought out a book.
Maybe I’m the one who’s stuck in the past wishing it could still be albums like Kano’s ‘Home Sweet Home’ and Ghetto’s (now Ghetts) ‘Ghetto Gospel’, and tracks like JME’s ‘AWOH’ or Skepta’s ‘What Dya Mean’. Maybe I miss moshing out to Lethal B’s ‘Forward Riddim’. But like I said, artists evolve.
It’s a Catch 22 as it’s like saying the artists have got to move with the times, evolve and keep it fresh, but without losing what made the fans love them in the first place.
Is it just the fact that grime is never meant to be chart-topping and mainstream – or would it even be grime anymore? Having said that, Grime is crossing the globe – we have seen countries like Japan and Germany start to do Grime. Also, Grime finally has it’s own genre section on iTunes now which is amazing, but I still can’t help but feel that UK music has come away from grime and it now seems to be more about drill and trap music.
The UK Is definitely winning right now but a lot of it isn’t technically Grime. Look at the likes of Section Boyz and 67, they’ve achieved success but they were never Grime.
There’s a fine line between developing as an artist and losing your way. There are some that can pull off both styles, and some you can only associate with true, raw grime like D Double for example.
Although I can’t help but miss the old days, I do love what the UK is doing right now musically and I’m excited to keep watching it unfold.