the a-z of grime
If you want to make it in grime, then it’s time to get to grips with the past, present and future…
A is for A Plus
Before the likes of YouTube, if you wanted to sample life on the frontline of grime you'd need to buy DVDs, weekly. Down at Rhythm Division, Bow or Uptown, Soho (RIP), early series including Target's Aim High, Eskimo Dance and Run The Road came courtesy of cameraman, Rinse veteran and unspoken hero, Troy 'A Plus' Miller.
B is for Bow, E3
The heart and soul of the scene, it would be remiss to not include mention of its most famous export, Dylan Mills AKA Mr. Dizzee Rascal. From Mercury Prize winner to (ahem) Shakira-collaborator, the Boy In Da Corner was the first to take the sound to the four corners of the globe and the top of the charts. Though he may have eschewed the 140 BPM in recent years, we've been delighted to see Dizz ditch Robbie Williams to return to freestyles and jumping on Fekky's Sittin' Here refix.
C is for Crew
Honorable mention goes to BBK; JME, Skepta, Frisco, Maximum - can't forget Sam, that's BBK - and the rest, are without a doubt the strongest crew offering the UK's had in a long time. With a strong t-shirt game and members striving to achieve solo greatness, long may they reign. Don't forget to look up Roll Deep, NASTY, Pay As U Go, Essentials and So Solid while you're at it.
D is for Dissensus
Cast your mind back to the days before trolls and snapchats. No, right back. Before MySpace even, when man was chatting on MSN not Whatsapp. In the early years of grime, there was the Dissensus forum. Like the wild west of the worldwide web, Dissensus, UK Garage Worldwide and the RWD Forum were the homes of angry MC's, pedantic DJs, sexually frustrated teenagers, and - occasionally - incredible insight into the scene and its majors players.
E is for Eskimo Dance
DJ Cheeky and Wiley - Eski founder and the Godfather of the scene - take a bow because Eskimo Dance has survived, despite its changing face over the years. Back in the day, no one was thinking about Radio 1 playlists: all you had to do was manage to get hold of the mic at Eskimo Dance and get a reload on the tune. If you've not watched the Top 30 Eskimo Dance reloads on YouTube, you actually haven't lived.
F is for FM
Anyone under the age of 25 might struggle to remember an age without digital radio, streaming services and such. But pirate radio was the training ground for the scenes forefathers. De Ja Vu, Rinse, Y2K… All of you, take a bow. Responsible for sound-tracking grime's youth, the perils of illegal broadcasting were high; Slimzee once received an ASBO banning him from every east London tower block roof. But fuck the DTI. Long-live illegal activity.
G is for GRMdaily
Grime consumers can revel in dedicated websites like GRMDaily, which offers music video production services and a serious marketing tool to up and comers, as well as a respected broadcasting platform. They may not have received as much press as SBTV but let it be known Posty and the man dem, we salute you (and Link UP TV).
H is for Hattie Collins
Not only has i-D music editor Hattie Collins been penning about grime in the magazine for the last decade but she's set to chair a 2.0 grime panel at Urban Development's Industry Takeover on March 28th, at Ravensbourne, London. Collins, Noisey's Sam Wolfson, Chip, Heavytrackerz and GRMDaily's Posty will also be present, correct and having words.
I is for i-D Mix
February saw i-D mix return to east London but i-D aren't new to this live grime business, no siree. Back in 2005, we gave you i-D Live with a line up that boasted Kano, Demon, Ghetto, Roll Deep, Skepta, Wiley, Lady Sovereign, Crazy Titch, Newham Generals, Logan Sama, Essentials and many more. i-D, grimey from day. Say something.
J is for JME
JME (Jamie) caught people's attention back in the early 00's, alongside D Double on his brother Skepta's Thuggish Ruggish release and on his debut solo outing, 'Serious'. Rejecting the typical grime lexicon, JME came with correct English and a middle finger to the traditional subject matter. Previously seen BMXing or completing a Rubix cube in a minute, he's also a technology guru.
K is for Kano
Originally portrayed as the pretty boy of grime, Kano has the flows and lyrical acrobatics to match. Having co-created one of the original Grime/ R&G (rhythm and grime yo) anthems with Terror Danjah's So Sure alongside Sadie Ama, Kano also delivered the seminal Ps and Qs on 679 back in '07. Since then, his freestyles and subsequent releases (including collaborations with Hot Chip and Damon Albarn) have stayed ahead of their time. Top 3 selected, Top Boy!
L is for Lord of the Mics
Jammer's basement, where Lord of the Mics (LOTM) was originally filmed, is synonymous with grime. Graffiti tags adorn the walls, a nod to the many battles that have cemented careers. It's also where Jammer produced some of his most important work, namely Feedback, Birds In The Sky and Destruction. Pre-order LOTM 6 now, buy some of the Boiler Room garms while you can and look out for Jammer's Murkleman animation series coming soon.
M is for Mumdance
While purists might try and hate, Mumdance is sonically achieving exciting things in grime where others have failed. Or not bothered. His collaborations with Lewisham's hotly tipped Novelist (who smashed this month's i-D Mix night) - which include Take Time, 1 Sec and Shook - are opening new ears to new possibilities. Travelling his sound globally, his deal with XL Recordings, inked back at end of 2014, looks set to bear ripe fruit for the foreseeable future.
Nu is for Nu Brand Flexxx
I mean, they made a song called Gash By The Hour. That should be enough on its own for an entry, but add into the mix controversy around the ownership of 'that dance' and the fact that members have included Tinie Tempah and Darq E Freaker, the oversexed South London crew more than merit a mention. You can also catch Boya D presenting for Channel 4 News.
O is for Origins
Grime's emergence in the early 00's signalled not only a new sound but the birth of DIY entrepreneurialism in generation z. While the music was created on Playstations and basic programs by a generation that couldn't afford studio time, it also bore an industry that previously didn't exist for a young urban Britain.
P is for Preditah
Preditah is top of the list if you need a banging grime make-over. With his own UK garage inspired release, Selecta, due out on 3Beat this Spring, check the back catalogue for the specials. You should also check this Birmingham exports SoundCloud for mixes worth a share or listen to his weekly show on Kiss FM, Tuesday, 10-11pm.
Q is for Quotables
What has always made grime's wordsmiths stand out among the hip hop heads of yesteryear (and now) is the wit, slang and energy that comes with it; take for example D Double E's 'Think you're a big boy cause you got a beard/ bullets will make your face look weird…' Word. Musically, this is the truest representation of British street culture and multicultural London that you're going to find. Pull up that forward!
R is for Run The Road
The Run The Road compilations from 679 Recordings A&R'd by Dan Stacey, released over a decade ago, were the first pre-digital opportunity many people experienced grime via. Subsequently released through Vice in the US, you could also rave to the sounds in the Run The Road room at Straight Outta Bethnal or at staple club nights Dirty Canvas and ChockAblock.
S is for Stormzy
Since winning the MOBO for Best Grime, Stormzy doesn't seem to have taken a day off. Making the top 10 in this year's BBC Sound Poll, he's an MC who's now guaranteed to get a reload. Currently the subject of a bidding war, he was also the first unsigned rapper to perform on Later with Jools Holland.
T is for That's Not Me
Probably the biggest track of last year, Skepta's That's Not Me boasted of throwing Gucci garms in the bin (a fact that even made the pages of The Guardian). Produced by Skepta, who makes 99% of all of his music, it was his highest charting track to date - without the backing of a label. Having also styled and directed a video for Wiley, and collaborated with designer Nasir Mazhar on a collection, Skepta's in his own lane.
U is for USA
Thanks in large to the efforts of Boy Better Know (again), grime's attracting a higher profile appeal overseas. While early years grime sowed its seeds across Europe (while also reaching Israel, Russia and Australia), now the likes of Wiz Khalifa, Kanye, Drake, Virgil Abloh, A$AP and co are among those giving a nod of approval and some. Dun know.
V is for Vinyl
Wiley was once said to have made a million just selling vinyl from his car boot. Having lost the receipts this can't be verified, but it's worth noting grime vinyl used to sell. A lot. Made as music for the rave, a darker alternative to the UK garage stronghold, DJs like Slimzee would rock up to seminal night FWD>> and play sets solely from dubplates (costing in excess of £30 a piece to make). Sadly, now you'll be pushed to find many grime releases on vinyl.
W is for Workout
Lethal Bizzle has had quite a career. A real businessman, he got into the property game early with his More Fire Crew change and has kept it moving ever since. Alongside his Dench brand, co-owned by his cousin and footballer Emmanual Frimpong, his recent underground smash Rari Workoutproved he still has it musically too.
X is for X-rated
Once upon a time there was a penchant in grime circles for making x-rated videos. And we don't mean in the privacy of one's own home. Roll Deep adopted a red light for their special of When I'm Ere, featuring many a topless lady. Skepta took it to another level on All Over The House, a certified XXX porno. Thankfully, there are more clothes on than off these days.
Y is for Young Lord
As heard all over London, Paris and Miami Fashion Week, Skepta's 2014 parting gift, It Ain't Safe features A$AP Mob's Young Lord. Channelling some old-skool NWA vibes and showing how a collaboration should be done (i.e. not via a record label and a pay cheque), Young Lord rose in everyone's estimations.
Z is for Z Dot
One half of production duo Perplexus Music, Z Dot's been doing his thing for a hot minute. Responsible for Stormzy's Know Me From, Ghetts Karma, and many more, Z Dot makes the kind of grime riddims people still want to freestyle on. His current project, Taking Control is available on iTunes now.
Text Chantelle Fiddy
Photography Marco & Quann