The Power of Grime and UK Rap!
It has been common knowledge for sometime now that UK authorities have held back the progression of the UK music scene and artists, in particular Grime and Rap. Mainly through the blocking of live shows and events taking place. Up until very recently a lot of the doors to success have been barricaded, and 2016 has seen major steps being made to our homegrown talents being exposed to a wider audience, and the culture that we are all so passionate about being accepted in mainstream society.
The roots and journey that everyone has been on will remain, but it is this generation that will see greatness prosper.
Over the years, we have seen some very raw and talented artists take the lead and be at the forefront of the movement and the underground music culture. Skepta, Wiley, Giggs, Kano, Dizzee Rascal, Lethal Bizzle..the list goes on.
It was London that saw the birth of the grime scene with MC's showcasing their talents in such a unique way. From the likes of Wiley and Jammer, Skepta, JME and the BBK family, to D Double E, Wretch, Ghetts, all the way through to a new generation of sick MC's, for example Chip, Stormzy, and Novelist.
In some cases the music got mixed with the lifestyle, and the authorities saw this art form as a threat and saw potential for it to cause harm amongst society.
One artist in particular who has become a victim of the restrictions put in place is Peckham rapper, Giggs. The 'Hollow Man' has become one of the biggest rappers to come out of the UK, and is deep in the game, a veteran of the scene and is still making noise today.
In 2010, Giggs saw his headline tour cancelled due to a police warning.This seemed to have stemmed from the past as the Peckham rapper saw 2 years in prison from 2003 for possessing firearms without a license. From then it is believed that Operation Trident has followed his movements, informing venues and record labels of his past in an attempt to shutdown his career in music. The police reasoning was that there was concerns over potential risks to the event.
Giggs had been up against it from day 1, but it never stopped his progress. He signed to XL Records, created a 'masterpiece' album in 'Let Em Ave It' and was his tour was then shutdown. But, he has continued to put in serious work and make music that would continue to be popular amongst people from all classes of society. The next album would come in 2013, entitled 'When Will It Stop' which debuted at 21 in the UK Albums Chart. Giggs wasn't going to be held back, and even though he's show were being shutdown, he continued to take the positives from his careers and continue to grow.
It was his most recent album 'Landlord' that would see Giggs break down the door and have his headline show, with no interruptions. It took 3 months for us to get a performance to follow this due to be legendary album.
To celebrate this achievement, he teamed up with Link Up TV to release footage of the entire show. You can watch this memorable event below.
Form 696 has become a common term when we talk about Grime and Rap events in London, and Giggs is one of many artists who have fallen victim to this document. A document which allowed the authorities to shut down events, resulting in the culture not being able to reach it's full capacity and be exposed to a wider audience.
In 2014, Jamie Adenuga (JME) linked up with the team from Noisey to create a 20 minute documentary which would explore Form 696 and discuss how the grime scene was held back. The documentary was titled 'The Police vs Grime'. JME and the Noisey team investigated why shows were being cancelled so suddenly and whether these shows being cancelled was a solution to crime in the capital of the UK.
In February 2014, Just Jam's event at 'The Barbican' venue in London fell victim 696 and was cancelled with very short notice. This is what sparked the documentary. JME wanted to know why the culture was being suppressed at a time when tensions were so high. It was around this time that the London riots were happening and the capital was in a anxious and tense state.
Personally, I am extremely confused as to why the Grime scene has been targeted so much. The music is a product of the culture, and even when artists are being shut down, they are not causing a major scene. There is no violence or aggression in response, in fact JME shows the attitude very early on when he starts asking for answers. 'What can we do to make shows go ahead?'. The scene wants to be heard in a socially acceptable manner, but for years it has been held back.
2016 has seen a real uprising in Grime and UK Rap, for the first time since it's establishment it has defied all the odds. I think it is safe to say that our scene and culture has become a common part of society, and it is appreciated by people from all backgrounds.
It has been on an incredible journey over the past few years and has broken down some doors for future generations.
We have seen Stormzy, Skepta, and Kano all make appearances on Jools Holland. To see these artists performing on prime time television shows how far it has come. The art is finally being appreciated and elevated to the ears of everyone. Looking back, to say that these artists who have fought for so long are being aired on BBC Two, as opposed to early hour pirate radio plays, is amazing and shows really how powerful this genre of music is.
At last years Wireless festival, the most popular Hip-Hop/RnB act in the world, Drake brought out Skepta to perform and paid tribute to Lukey, one of Skepta's close friends who passed away. Drizzy also brought Skeppy out at OVO Fest in Toronoto whilst he was out in the US on his tour, and since then the 6 God made a historic appearance at Section Boyz headline show in London.
These events have played a pivotal part in the acceptance of the UK scene, but none of this would have happened without the grind and hard work of all these talented creatives.
This year Drake signed to Boy Better Know. I don't think there could have been a bigger statement made by the Toronto man, that he really does appreciate the Grime scene. Such a significant move, as everyone who knows the scene knows that BBK is formed and the foundations are based on brotherhood and unity amongst it's members. So, to bring Drake into this family means that the BBK family must have fully accepted him and learned that he is dedicated to the movement and will help it grow.
Drake isn't the only global superstar reaching out to the UK. Chris Brown has shown the UK a lot of love as of late and has worked very closely with Section Boyz. We saw them link up for 'Shabba' and 'Whippin' and we got a full project from Section, Chris Brown and OHB. 'Attack The Block' is a 16 track piece of work, and has gained a lot of attention.
Not only has Breezy shouted Section, but he recently dropped a tweet showing support to Abra Cadabra, one of the UK's hottest upcoming talents.
So much has been going on the past few years, that people really do undermine how far the sound has come. The rise of the Culture Clash is another huge statement. Not only the rise of the Culture Clash but the work that the global organisation, RedBull, has put into elevating the art.
The Culture Clash saw Boy Better Know go up against Rebel Sound, Stone Love and ASAP MOB in 2014.
2016 saw Eskimo Dance go head to head with Mixpak, Taylor Gang, and UKG Allstars.
This has been huge in the come up as it's given the UK sound to go up against a universal sound and bring the Grime 'clash' culture to a huge platform and show the likes of Taylor Gang and ASAP MOB how sick the UK sound really is.
The Culture Clash is just one section of what RedBull have done, they provide studios across the country for artists to work in, and put on events all year round. They have really endorsed UK music and have elevated it and made it more professional for these artists, as opposed to doing it as hobby or a pass time.
Now for the music that we have received this year...Made In The Manor, Landlord..and Konnichiwa. Just three of the projects that have come from UK artists this year. But, these three projects carry so much significance for the journey of UK music.
Over the course of the year we have been fed some amazing projects from some amazing artists and the work rate that UK artists possess cannot be compared to any other style of music. It's a none stop grind, and give them all the riches in the world and they will not stop putting in serious work and creating art to such a high quality.
I've touched on these projects in prior blogs, and in this blog itself. I feel that the significance of these bodies of work goes unnoticed at times.
Made In The Manor came as Kano's 7th project and after gaining a lot of from his Home Sweet Home project, Made In The Manor came to us with such power as it is a body of work that had finally been appreciated the way it deserved to. Nominated for numerous awards including the Mercury Prize, an amazing achievement in itself.
Landlord was another project which really showed how powerful the culture was. This album entered the UK charts at No.2. Do you understand how big that really is? You should all understand Giggs' journey from what I spoke about above. To touchdown in the charts in such a high position shows that there is no stopping Grime and UK Rap, and despite being held back and told that they can't do this properly, they ignored it and carried on breaking down doors, and this body of work is a prime example of exactly that.
Now for Konnichiwa..we haven't seen a UK album do numbers like this since Dizzee's Boy In Da Corner. Skepta changed the game with this one. After spending so long discovering his sound, the past few years saw Skepta create work that was true to him and 100% real. And, I think it was the authenticity of Skepta and his music that made this album so great. We waited a long time for it to drop, but I am so glad he took his time and perfected it, and I think we can all agree when we say that it was worth the wait. In an interview with Semtex the North London man spoke about trying to knock Beyonce off the top spot. A grime artist talking about knocking a worldwide superstar off the top of the album charts? If you would have said that not even 10 years ago, you would have been laughed at.
The BBK don then went on to make history and win the Mercury Prize. Something that only Dizzee Rascal has done. It was at this point that I think everybody realised that Grime and UK Rap has firmly cemented it's spot in modern society and culture, and it is now something that will get played on national radio on your way home from work. The hard work and drive of our artists and pioneers has made it this way, and you really can't afford this real life rap that has been held back for so long.
Grime and UK Rap is something that is going to be ever present in the UK and eventually worldwide. It's already pretty much cracked America and it is only going to grow from there.
It took over Glastonbury this year, our artists have performed all over the world, with the likes of Skepta, Stormzy, Kano and Novelist all shutting down shows, and it is only going to get bigger and better.
The powers, work rate, and commitment amongst our culture could never be critcised and I think it safe to say that from all these years of hard work and the challenges along the way..the founders, the pioneers, the artists, engineeers, the videographers, the bloggers..everyone involved with the movement can hold their hands up and say they've made it.
I'd like to leave you with a quote from an interview with Skepta..
'It's life before music..the music is a product of the environment, it's a product of the lifestyle. Cos' life got really real, Grime came back.' - Skepta
That sums up our scene and the culture, and if you haven't already you need to embrace the culture and appreciate the art that we are all working so hard towards.
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