the regional grime artists you need to know

While grime originated deep in London’s Bow E3, it has long since spread across the UK, inspiring a generation as it goes. As the genre looks set for total world domination, Red Bull Studios turn their attention to the burgeoning talent across the...

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Sep 2 2016, 8:25am

DERBY: Eyez

How did you discover grime?
I first discovered grime when it first came out and was discovering itself. I was ten years old in Derby and learnt from things like Channel U and hanging with my older brother in his room were where I heard it. I could even hear the evolution through garage music as it was coming through. I remember hearing Wiley's What Do You Call It and Crazy Titch, I Can C U and loving them.

What's the scene like in Derby?
It's showing lots of potential and growing really fast but there's not a lot of opportunity for guys coming through so it's tougher than in other cities.

Is it supportive or competitive?
The scene has always been supportive of me and always helps push my music.

Who do you rate from your hometown?
Dubzy and Lox, obviously, but also YNC, Hutch and Kay'Gee.

Where's the best place to go for a night out?
Down Shaftesbury, it's wavy down there and they play my songs.

In London the Met Police have used Form 696 to shut down grime nights in the past. Have you encountered any similar situations?
Once in Derby but a couple other times in Exeter and places. We had a snazz night and Invasion Alert and Scumfam came down. I think it's just a misunderstanding of the culture and how they hear the lyrics.

Do you think there's a stigma attached to MCs that don't sound southern?
In the early stages, maybe, but now people love different accents on grime. Bugzy Malone is a good example and his lyrics wouldn't work as well in a southern accent.

What local slang do you use in your bars?
Mardy, ain't it (like init), bondoodled (getting bondoodled is like when someone gets their weed or chains taken off them or something).

Have you ever considered moving to London to further your career?
Yeah I consider it all the time. More opportunities there with the bigger scene/radio/media and all that. More collaboration opportunities too.

Is it truly grime if it's not coming out of London? Or is it an evolution of grime?
Grime is a genre of music, not an area, You can do it anywhere. The Japanese guys are mad.

Where is the future of grime?
In my shoes.

@Eyez_UK

SHEFFIELD: Kannan

Do you remember the first time you heard grime?
It was a DJ Slimzee set with Dizzee and Wiley. I was amazed. I always loved garage/bassline for the tempo and hip hop for bars, so it was like the best of both worlds.

What's the scene like in your city?
It's healthy. There's a lot of talent and it is finally getting somewhere close to the recognition it deserves.

Is it supportive or competitive?
It's very competitive both in good ways and bad. 

Do you ever feel isolated?
Sometimes. With not being from the big city it can be hard, but as grime in London gets noticed by America, I feel London have noticed us a bit more.

Who from your hometown do you rate?
I rate everyone who has got a dream and is pushing towards it. K dot, Nerva & the rest of Scumfam. Coco, L Dizz, Deep Green, U.G Flack... straight piff. Be sure to check them out.

Is there a general feeling of London grime MCs selling out?
I'm not sure about everybody else, but I don't think that way. Everyone has to feed their family so whatever music you make is obviously what works for you.

Do you think there's a stigma attached to MCs that don't sound southern?
From some people, but a lot of them like the different accents. You've just got to give it time to sink in.

What local slang do you use in your bars?
Nah then, o'rate.

Other than slang, have you found there are any notable differences in grime from different cities?
There's a few but it's mostly the same. Kids coming from an urban background with a story to tell

Have you ever considered moving to London to further your career?
Yes I have definitely thought about it. I am starting to come down a lot more but I think I'm going to keep it Northern for now.

Is it truly grime if it's not coming out of London? Or is it an evolution of grime?
Of course it is. It's the most grime. No managers, no labels, just straight hunger and energy. If that's not grime I don't know what is!

Where and what is the future of grime?
I hope it carries on escalating at the rate it has been. I think it will do because there is so many different stories to tell.

@Kannanscumfam

BIRMINGHAM: Jaykae

How did you discover grime?
People around me were spitting bars in school, mainly older people. The first grime I heard was an MC called Subzy from my ends and I was listening to clashes more than actual tunes. I know that Oi by More Fire Crew stood out to me too - everyone was trying to cop that.

What's the scene like in Brum?
It's growing stronger and the talent is the best but there's no infrastructure or anything going on.

Is it supportive or competitive?
Both. It's friendly competition and people doing bits all respect each other want to see each other do good. Lady Leshurr has set the pace for all of us and is the benchmark.

Do you ever feel isolated?
Apart from certain things in London, I don't think it's a disadvantage and I like doing my thing from Birmingham.

How do you feel being named the rep for your city?
It's how it should be. I've been trying to do it from long and I think that's how it should be.

Who else from your hometown do you rate?
There's loads and it ranges from Sox to Tazzle.

Where's the best place to go for a night out?
Made has probably been the best this year, but Rainbow is the spot and Warehouse is good as well.

In London the Met Police have used Form 696 to shut down grime nights in the past. Have you encountered any similar situations in your hometown?
First time I encountered that was at Made. Once I was given passes at the door, but when I went in I was grabbed and told I couldn't perform. I think it was a personal thing. I can't think of a night that's been locked off though.

Have you found there are any notable differences in grime from different cities?
I like how up North accents develop such a sick flow, like from Leeds and Sheffield. Birmingham is more gritty, and we need to be more universal so everyone can understand what we're saying. London MCs really get their point across well. 

Have you ever considered moving to London to further your career?
I think about it but nahh. I want to be the person to do it in our city. I only go to London for perks and other than that I'm not trying to be there. Someone like Bugzy Malone is killing it still. He's doing his thing from his city and I'll be staying in Birmingham to do mine.

Where and what is the future of grime?
You can see what Skepta's doing making it big and Stormzy getting it accepted in America and shutting down shows and it's a matter of time until it gets charted over there. It's getting opened up and people like Drake and Kanye West are endorsing the grime sound. 

@jaykae_invasion

LEICESTER: Kamakaze

Do you remember the first time you heard grime?
I probably discovered grime through TV. Back then we didn't have YouTube so we used to watch Channel U and MTV Base. I remember The Lick with Trevor Nelson used to feature English MCs all the time. Then on top of that there was a clique called YTS that every man had on their phone who were from the secondary school in my area. I'm pretty sure the first song was I LUV U. I had it as a single that I copped at Woolworths.

What's the scene like in Leicester?
It's small but growing. MCs are popping up everywhere and everyone's trying to elevate themselves. It's nice because not so long ago people had given up on tryna blow and take it somewhere else.

Does it feel supportive or competitive?
That is a good question. People don't have a lot of resources, live shows with large audiences are scarce, everyone is fighting for the title of 'hardest' and until recently, media channels never made effort to film us. I see why people are looking after their own interest, but I can't lie, recently there has been some cohesion between different cliques, which is as important as anything if we are ever going to progress.

Which other artists do you rate?
Obviously Skee and Jafro, who I bought through for the sound clash. But the SDR camp are heavy - all of them man hold their own. Dash, Big Youngz and Seeker are probably my personal favourites. More so than anything, I rate the younger man like Ceejay and Kay P. I think given time they will keep moving up. My family tree BLG are who i'll make music with forever though.

Where's the best place for a night out?
Firstly R.I.P The Garage. If you're talking about Leicester, I wouldn't know where to begin. Sub8Ten formerly Sophbeck is the spot, it's rags but it's waves. Apart from that, there's Marz, Basement, and if you're feeling classy roll Terrace (grown and sexy only), and Ghost sometimes. The bouncers at XY and R Bar are pricks.

Is there a general feeling of London grime MCs selling out?
Nah man, they just have better opportunities to bust and people are in music to make money. MCs dumb their music down everywhere, not just the UK, to raise its sale potential. And now grime sells and you can chart with grime, these are promising times.

What local slang do you use in your lyrics?
Mardy and senti are the only ones that spring to mind. I'm gonna start my own slang and see if it catches on.

Other than slang, have you found there are any notable differences in grime from different cities?
Northern grime MCs, from places other than Leicester, had bassline for a long time and I think Birmingham and Sheffield especially still keep elements of bassline in their instrumental selection. Other man might not hear it, but I used to love bassline - it was the sound of house parties when I was like 14 and I think producers especially from those ends still hold onto certain elements of it.

Have you ever considered moving to London to further your career?
I think every MC has the temptation to go to London and try and blow because without the exception of maybe Bugzy Malone, nobody fully has in grime outside of London. If you keep a big fish is a little pond it will eat everything and use up the resources and eventually stunt its growth when there's nothing left for it. So the radio, shows, culture and business that London offers over everywhere else would obviously be attractive to any MC. I've been on 1xtra, Radar, Rinse, and Reprezentz, but I've never been on BBC Radio Leicester or even Demon.fm. Sometimes you have to go elsewhere to get the tools to take back to where you're from to help it grow.

Is it truly grime if it's not coming out of London?
Of course. There have been times where London left grime behind to try and seek more commercial genres and do the UK rap thing, and Birmingham along with other places held it up. Yes, London is the birthplace but every city had its own clique from the get go. Leicester even had a clique on Dirtee Stank called Klass A, the first man who signed to it.

Where and what is the future of grime?
It's us man. There's a group of emerging MCs that could take grime to a place that it's never been before; global. I'm not saying it's me, but there's man I know and there's man I see who have the potential to do so. All we need is a little space, at some point switching the line ups on raves and dropping newcomers features and we can do more than what's been done before. Also a grime chart would help because then it's recognised, recorded and can be a milestone for MCs. I think fusion too; MCs like Trim are starting to break genre barriers and I think if it continues, the art form of grime will continue to gain accolades as an art form.

@KamakazeLC

NOTTINGHAM: Mez

How did you discover grime?
I heard SLK, Hype Hype about 11 years ago.

What's the scene like in your city?
The scene is strong and everyone is doing their little bits and reaping their rewards. It's definitely busy for grime.

Is it supportive or competitive?
It's definitely supportive but there's a competitive element, which is the same everywhere you go and it's normal.

Do you ever feel isolated?
Nah, it's a community here. Previous generations have done it before me so now it's my time. People always know about people from Nottz, so only people who isolate themselves are isolated.

Who else from your hometown do you rate?
Kyeza, Snowy, JDot, Bugsey and Young T, Ddot.

Where's the best place to go for a night out?
I don't really know to be honest, as I don't really go out to dress up and drink. But Rescue Rooms for grime nights is the one and I've performed there a couple of times.

Have you found there are any notable differences in grime from different cities?
Every city has its own sound and every MC has their own natural sound. The only real difference is in the dialect that separates it.

Have you ever considered moving to London to further your career?
It would be nice but I kind of like going from Nottz to London and back. I love Nottz and my boys here.

@unclemez

MANCHESTER: R.I.O

How did you discover grime?
I discovered grime in the Moss Side community I grew up in. Crews used to chill around the neighbourhood in a big circle, hoods up going bar 4 bar.

Do you remember the first time you heard grime?
The first time I heard grime was Dizzee Rascal and Slimzee's joint mixtape. I was instantly engaged in the lyrics and production throughout the tape, the energy was very sick.

What's the scene like in Manchester?
The Manchester scene has had its moments; the essence of grime, the youth club sets, selling mixtapes on market street and the clashes have all stopped. The scene is starting to get healthy again though with various artists breaking through but on more of a solo vibe. The unity isn't there at the moment and that has probably stopped Manchester from competing with the likes of London and Birmingham. But the talent is most definitely there. Personally, I think our top MCs can compete with anything the UK classes as top tier grime.

Is it supportive or competitive?
The only thing Manchester lacks is the support within the scene. With the internet it's much easier to get heard and seen now but there's always going to be that competition to get more ratings than the other MCs.

Do you ever feel isolated?
Personally I don't feel isolated. I've had good spells of success with records on BBC 1xtra playlists, MTV top 20 urban videos, features with Ghettz , Scrufizzer and Kozzie. That's only because I made it my duty to get heard and seen without any distractions and go against the myths that you only can get success if you're from London.

Who else from your hometown do you rate?
I rate Misha B, Trigga, Bipolar Sunshine, Tobi Sunmola, Virus Syndicate, Two 4 Kay, Wrigz, Hypez, Geko, Kay Rico, Sly & Dyno.

In London the Met Police have used Form 696 to shut down grime nights in the past. Have you encountered any similar situations?
One time I witnessed it at Music Box, a venue that myself, Wrigz and a few others used to put on inviting headliners like Wiley, Chipmunk, etc. to bless the culture here in Manchester. I remember police stopping fans from getting into the venue as they thought there might be trouble and the night was cut short.

Is there a general feeling of London grime MCs selling out?
Personally I don't believe in selling out. The main aim and objective is to feed your family and use your God given talent to get out of deprived areas many grime MCs grow up in. If you can achieve this it doesn't matter what genre of music you do and how you do it, as long as you can look back at your career and say you achieved your goals then the conversation about selling out stops right there.

Do you think there's a stigma attached to MCs that don't sound Southern?
Most definitely. The best thing I've heard is that people can't understand the accents, which is hilarious to say the least. We're from Britain and speak British.

What local slang do you use in your bars?
G, makka, alley, my man, prick, R kid, scran, do one.

Other than slang, have you found there are any notable differences in grime from different cities?
A lot of differences are with the dress code. Up North we wear a lot of dark tracksuits and North Face, Berghaus, Thinsulate, peak caps, etc.

Is it truly grime if it's not coming out of London? Or is it an evolution of grime?
It started in London but the evolution has been in motion for a few years and now the door is wide open. Opportunities are endless and grime is UK genre.

Where and what is the future of grime?
WORLD DOMINATION.

@RIOmusic10