If there’s one thing that gets most of us through the day, it’s music. Whether we’re scrolling through SoundCloud looking for mood tunes to help alleviate a case of the Mondays or listening to a mixtape someone has sent our way, not a day goes by without some kind of music playing in our office.
Since our inboxes tend to get inundated with lots of projects from artists interested in coverage, we decided to spotlight some of the names we’ve been hearing about every month. This time around we’re taking a look at some of the names making noise in the UK grime scene.
Take a look at past installments here.
P Money began his career in the mid-2000s, honing his freestyles on pirate radio stations as an affiliate of the Fatal Assassins crew alongside Little Dee and Blacks. It wasn’t until more recent times that Paris Moore-Williams, aka P Money, cemented himself as a shining standalone artist. A founding member of Lewisham-based OGz crew, P Money is renowned for his buoyant stage presence and elaborate lyrical acumen.
His rhythmic flows galloping over dubstep-tinted productions have been commandeered by the likes of D33CO and Sir Spyro. This, coupled with the MC’s attention to memorable, crowd-rousing hooks in singles such as last year’s “10/10” or his most recent peak set banger, “Panasonic,” has seen P Money receive countless accolades from tastemakers such as 1Xtra’s Mistajam, who called the rapper, “one of the most promising of the current generation of grime emcees.”
With his debut album proper, Live & Direct, set to drop in late November, P Money’s ascension has been a long time coming.
Hackney resident Jammz has been preserving his territory in grime’s combative underground circuit for the past six years via appearances on pirate radio stations across London. Whether with DJ Jack Dat or Moleskin on Radar Radio, Spooky on Deja Vu or Sir Spyro on Rinse, the East Ender’s rise has been catalogued extensively.
Mixtapes ranging from the I Am Grime trilogy to this year’s prodigious Underdog Season Volume 1 with Jack Dat have enabled Jammz to develop lyrical agility, and granted him access to some of the scene’s most esteemed forbearers including Logan Sama and Kano – the latter of which Jammz recently toured with. Now that he’s back from the Made In The Manor tour, Jammz is wasting no time in doing what he does best; bringing bars to our airwaves. Stay locked.
Comprised of three burgeoning talents – Saint, PK and Lyrical Strally – YGG, (an acronym of You Get Grime), is a collective that emerged out of the internet radio boom of 2014 and 2015. As with many of the artists on this list, YGG owe much of their acclaim to regular slots on Radar Radio, and earning their stripes on stages such as grime club night at Eskimo Dance. The trio met through none other than Novelist during a cypher battle and have since remained untouchable as a group.
Their intrinsic ability to complement each other’s rhymes verges on telepathic; it’s truly arresting to witness live. So much so, DJ J-Cush has referred to PK as, “this generation’s D Double E.” With recent features on Logan Sama’s FABRICLIVE release, Amy Becker’s impeccable RMX EP, and a string of successful club hits including “Don’t Talk Like That” and last year’s “Okay,” YGG seem more than prepared to meet the criteria set by their superiors.
MC, producer, visual director and owner of label imreallydead, CASisDEAD is the elusive Tottenham-based artist whose true identity remains unknown. Formerly Castro, and occasionally referred to simply as CAS, the masked rapper has remained a mystery since his musical re-emergence back in 2012.
Since then, all of CASisDEAD’s public appearances feature the MC wearing a skull mask or, in most recent clips, a Freddy Kruger mask. This stage persona is a physical representation of CAS’s disillusionment with the social and political mainstream. It also acts as the perfect personification of the MC’s minatory production styles. He is by far the most profoundly esoteric artist to emerge in grime in the past year.
Following excessive rewinds in clubs and the subsequent remixes of last year’s Mystry-produced track, “Liff,” it was feared nothing could trump North London-based Capo Lee’s breakthrough single. But then he released “Mud”; a cantankerous, dusky instrumental featuring lyrical mafioso D Double E and produced by Spyro.
The pace is notably decelerated in comparison to typical grime productions, yet it chugs succinctly along to Capo Lee’s trademark off-kilter flow. Instead of faltering under the weighty fortunes of “Liff,” “Mud” is the crossroads at which the artist transforms from unseasoned performer to a fully established vocal force. Grime’s newest undisputed hitmaker? It’s looking like it.
In a late 2015 interview, West London born AJ Tracey, said, “In life, my biggest inspiration is success.” Tracey also cited Lewisham’s breakthrough star Novelist as a role model for the genre’s next generation. Today, AJ Tracey has not only been lauded by The Guardian as one of the best new acts in the UK, but has secured a nomination for this year’s Best Newcomer award at the MOBOs.
Having released the highly-anticipated Alex Moran EP at the tail end of last year, AJ’s dextrous syntax proved to be blade sharp; martially spitting some of the most relentless 16 bars to be heard on the mic. His instrumental preferences are habitually minimal, allowing his impeccable turn of phrase to take center stage. Lyrically, AJ often segues from graphically bleak references of daily struggles to playful prods at his detractors.
“I don’t believe anything that you say/ I could point out your fake bars bar-by-bar, he goads on ‘Str8 Riddim,’ a Logan Sama affiliated mixtape for Trapstar, before jokingly seeking approval from his Arabic cohorts over his choice in women, “I showed my Egyptian ting to my akhs dem/ All saying mashallah.” This quick wit and confrontational wordplay is rooted in AJ Tracey’s push for international acclaim. As grime’s leading bar-setter, his moment isn’t far off.
Another industrious pirate radio newcomer, West London’s Big Zuu gained notoriety last year while barking out bars for General Courts, and spraying standout freestyles during the Gimme Grime session on DJ Cameo’s 1Xtra show. His output is infinitely prolific, releasing some of the most straight-laced yet fiercely gladiatorial grime EPs of the past twelve months.
Last year saw the release of Big Who? and the Take Me In EP. Formerly a youth worker, the emcee is a longstanding member of the MTP crew, which boasts the likes of AJ Tracey, Ets, and Sketch. It’s only taken two years for this conglomerate’s fanbase to thrive, and with Big Zuu on their side, it seems prosperity is unending.
In an increasingly sectarian world, industry sexism is as pertinent today as it was before the term was coined in the ’60s. That’s why it’s so imperative to highlight the contributions of grime’s female artists. Despite the genre’s skewed reputation for being a chauvinistic genre fueled by machismo, the success of DJs, producers and MCs such as Amy Becker, Sian Anderson, DJ Barley Legal, and of course, Lady Leshurr, far surpass that of their male counterparts.
In fact, while there is a solid argument that Lady Leshurr is still something of an underground presence, she is incontestably one of the most commercially successful grime artists the UK has produced in years. What’s more, the unyielding moxie of this Birmingham-born MC’s stage shows are enough to leave even BBK boss Skepta impressed. Further proof that grime is no longer a London-centric clique, but a budding cultural movement that germinates from one municipal metropolis to the next.
Regarded by Big Zuu as “the undisputed champ” of grime’s underground, Mic Ty released Av Dis last year, and with it came a Herculean stride into the limelight. Frankly, there’s nothing particularly productive in scrutinizing or theorizing over this MC’s historic endeavors. Just listen to his most recent and highly anticipated release, Walking With Greatness, to appreciate how important Mic Ty’s contribution to grime’s bright future is.
Allow your gaze to drift from the UK capital and you’ll discover a myriad of talent in the grime scene. From Mez in Nottingham, Bugzy Malone in Manchester or Lady Leshurr and Safone in Birmingham, the calibre of regional artists is nothing short of overwhelming.
Sheffield-born Coco is only one of these rising stars, but one that deserves to be put on a public pedestal. He’s almost single-handedly putting the Steel City on the map. With production assistance from Radio1 DJ, producer and Girls Music label founder, Toddla T, on tracks such as “Target Practice” and “Big Bou Yah,” the MC’s blossoming career is in extremely safe hands.
- Writer: Tom Watson