our five point guide to how skepta shut down sxsw
Boy Better Know MC infuses Austin with some serious, serious Grime Time…
SXSW is currently in full swing in Austin, Texas and the week has been dominated by rumor mill, scandal and some great, great music. There have been secret showcases (rumors of a Kanye appearance continue apace), special guests (shout out Miley at the Mike Will Made It show at THE FADER FORT presented by Converse), and Boiler Room shenanigans aplenty with both a bonkers PC Music showcase and the stage invasion of Dipset. Meanwhile Migos, OG Maco and Rae Sremmurd prove that Atlanta is just about the hottest city in Hip Hop right now, while Run The Jewels' show was bumrushed by a mad man eager to introduce Killer Mike to his fists.
But - call us biased - it's been a particular British MC that we've been particularly interested in. Riding high on the back of his Kanye West co-sign, Joseph Junior Adenuga had two shows in Austin this year - the first at THE FADER FORT presented by Converse and the second at Thrasher Magazine. We caught the THE FADER FORT show yesterday - here are 5 Things We Took Away From the Performance:
1. Shutdown, That's Not Me and It Ain't Safe are absolute mega-bangers. It was also ace to see Blacklisted's Ace Hood Flow and Castles live - it all just makes us that much more excited for Skepta's next album, Konichiwa.
2. It made total sense to drip feed the audience with other recognizable Grime tracks - hence DJ Maximum dropping Dizzee's I Luv U instrumental for Skepta to spit fire over. Perfect Grime Gateway tracks for an audience still getting to grips with the scene and also a nice nod to Grime's roots from Skepta.
3. Diction and clarity go a long way. British MC's often struggle to find themselves understood by our across the pond brethren. There's enough of a battle as it is for American's to take on the UK vernacular and slang, so what they hear needs to be as clear and concise as possible. Skepta is easily understood. This, we think, will bode well as time goes on and will separate him from other MCs whose diction can be lost among BPM and a desire to cram as many syllables into a sentence as possible.
4. He may have won the battle, but Skepta still has the to win the war. Historically, British MC's haven't fared well in the U.S. Slick Rick has far and away been the most famous, and that was back in the eighties. Although the likes of Lady Sov, Tinie Tempah and Dizzee had some success, it was through either pop audiences or a hipster crowd. What Skepta needs to do is break the hip hop scene, which will be tough. It took New York years before they, reluctantly, allowed the West Coast a voice; it took another decade for the likes of New Orleans and Atlanta to be allowed in the same room. So British MC's have an uphill battle ahead. While Skeppy's show, in however small a way, may have made a dent in spreading the ethos of Grime, there's still a long way to go.
5. U.S. acts aren't just patting Grime MCs on the head; they're investing much more time and energy into the scene. This has been demonstrated not only by Kanye's Brits/Koko/All Day video and Drake's constant co-signs, but also the energetic arrival onstage at Skepta's SXSW debut of Young Lord and half of A$AP Mob. Rather than jumping on a bandwagon, it's obvious that's there's a mutual respect and also excitement between the parties. Kanye is genuinely interested in the scene and in turn Skepta views Young Lord and co., as real friends. You can't fake the funk. For this to work it needs to be authentic and organic; no long ting, as Skepta might say. The time for Grime is right now and it's on Skepta to be the first through the door; once he's in the room, then the real work will begin. Having seen him play in Austin one thing is clear; if anyone can do it, Skeppy can!
Text Hattie Collins