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Legends of Grime

Legends of Grime

With Wiley having another outburst, Lord Of The Mics 8 coming soon, and Kano dropping an album as well as having announced a second set of tour dates, it’s a good time to talk Grime.

Wiley the proverbial Godfather of the genre is keeping up to his expected antics of both antagonising and praising other artists. It’s not malicious either, at this stage you just have to look at it and say it’s just Wiley. The target this time isn’t a fellow MC though it is the world’s favourite ginger singer, Ed Sheeran. Wiley criticised him over his calling in of Grime DJ Sir Spyro, Jaykae, and Aitch to aid the remix of his Stormzy collaboration ‘Take Me Back To London’.

At the same time as this drama was going on Jammer and the Lord Of The Mics team were busy promoting the latest iteration of the scenes most infamous clashing event. LOTM has become the legend it is because of how many important moments and artists have graced, the now famed basement.

Wiley, Kano, Skepta, Devilman, P Money, and more have all shelled the mic there and have played major parts not only in the scene but also the individual artists’ careers. For some it only added to their station or even boosted them further, for others it marked a point of decline.

Kano. Kane Robinson. What an individual. Having announced his tour a month prior to the release of his album Hoodies All Summer, he sold out across the country which includes a date at the Royal Albert Hall in less than a day. Due to the demand, he has announced a second run of shows that will take place in early 2020 and depending on when you’re reading this you may still be able to get tickets. Hoodies All Summer was the follow-up album to 2016s masterpiece Made In The Manor and continues to show why Kano was not only ahead of his time but why he is one of the greatest to ever do it.

So with all this in mind it made me think not only what makes a Grime legend? But also, more importantly, who our Grime legends are. I have come up with a list of 10, it is my personal list and also has some honourable mentions. Feel free to disagree with me and anything I say in that list. But before the disagreement, hear me out on what I think makes a Grime legend.

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To be a Grime legend I feel like there are some key criteria you need to hit.

  1. Clashing – A top tier MC must be able to clash, whether that’s live or through dubs. Veteran MCs should be battle tried and tested across both formats and most if not all on my list have been involved in notable clashes.
  2. Live performances – you can’t be a legend if your stage show is dead. A bonus point to this is that truly great MC’s have iconic reload bars that can shut down any show and get the crowd going no matter how many times the lyric (or ad lib) has been heard before.
  3. Classic song(s) – if you don’t have one, or even a cult hit, it’s difficult to find the argument for you being a legend.
  4. Consistency –  another factor in this although I’m sure people will point out one name in particular as not being very consistent, he makes up for it in quality (in my opinion).
  5. Longevity – the ability to stand the test of time is, of course, a factor, but there is not one name on this list that you won’t have at the very least heard of before and they have all been in the game for a while.
  6. Popularity – it has to play a role in this, they say numbers don’t lie after all.
  7. Energy – now I think energy is very important in Grime but that doesn’t mean I think that only artists with high energy are legends, that’s not the case. I just think you can feel a person’s energy through their delivery and the legends all leave a lasting impression with theirs.
  8. Impact on the genre – You could argue this ties into longevity but I think it deserves its own category point. Creating waves in a genre or breaking the mould and re-imagining what it is takes skill and it must be acknowledged.

The Top Ten (In no particular order)

  1. Wiley – the Godfather, the originator of the sound and proverbial troll. He has clashed almost everyone even sometimes his own crew members and he still holds his spot within grime. His classics are many and considering Grime is his soundscape he can claim whatever he wants as his classic in my eyes. Numbers wise his monthly Spotify listens are 3,782,698.
  2. Kano – the visionary with class. Often blurring the lines between grime and rap, he proved himself to be an artist from his very first album which musically there was nothing like at the time. He made quality songs when a lot of others didn’t care about or see the importance of that. He may take his time with it but he always delivers. When it comes to classics you can take your pick but most would go with ‘P’s & Q’s’. He knows about clashing and even clashed the Godfather himself on the very first Lord Of The Mics. Numbers wise on Spotify his monthly reach is 838,146.
  3. Skepta – the people’s champ and the clearest MC of all time. He bridged the gap with the states. Has one of the most infamous Lord Of The Mics clashes against Devilman. Can get a reload whenever he wants and has classics for days alongside a strong discography. His monthly listens are 3,269,569.
  4. Ghetts – the essence of Grime. He is raw energy personified, you can’t contain him or his lyrics. His energy is infectious, just go to his live shows and you will understand. THE best live performer in the country hands down. He’s clashed many an MC including some on this list. His classic is ‘Artillery’ although if we include freestyles his Risky Roadz freestyle is right up there too. His monthly listens are 278,498.
  5. Dizzee Rascal – the prodigal son. The boy in the corner. Dizzee made Grime hit the mainstream. He had the formula before anyone else and was the first to be performing on the big stages back in the day. He was the guy before he had his hiatus. He infamously clashed Crazy Titch in a seminal moment in grimes early stages. His classics are aplenty but his most loved track, no pun intended, is ‘I Luv U’. His monthly listens surprised me but they are 2,370,217.
  6. D Double E – the MCs favourite MC. If you see most Grime artists asked about who the best MC is or who their favourite is, it is almost always D Double E. He doesn’t quite have the reach as some of the others with a monthly listenership of 251,910. But he is still a Grime hero. He is the only MC that can shut down a rave with no lyrics and just ad-libs. His classic is ‘Serious Thugz’ although again as with most on this list his catalogue has more than a few classics.
  7. P Money – the hitman. Not one to be played with at all. Anyone he has come against has quickly realised this as P is a no holds barred MC and wants to keep things all facts. On top of having some of the most memorable back and forths with Ghetts and Dot Rotten, he is more than just a clash MC. His classic has to be ‘Mad’ and if you get the chance to see him perform that live you will never experience the song in the same way again. The OGz frontman is tried and tested and his ‘Sounds & Gimmicks’ tracks are some of the most accurate imitations of artists you could ever here. He deserves to be on this list unquestionably. His listenership is 466,264 per month.
  8. JME – the nice guy. In this case, nice isn’t a bad thing at all. Grime needs balance and JME is that balance. Happy to spit lyrics about anything from gaming to kebabs, he is the artist you would want to meet and just hang out with. Co-founder of Boy Better Know alongside his brother, JME has been integral as much as a producer as he has been as an MC. Again another man with plenty of classics but ‘Serious’ is his staple hit. His listenership surprised me, but for the wrong reason I feel like it should be higher but it is 560,747.
  9. Chip – the young OG. 1,351,724 monthly listeners. He has been young his entire career and he has done so much in that time. He was the young MC that was too good to just be with the youngers and broke out for himself as another early star in the industry. He went to America and signed to T.I’s label before coming back to the UK and back to his roots. He’s never looked back and even sent shots at almost everyone in his ‘Pepper Riddim’. His classic is ‘Who Are You’ and he can spit several bars that get a wheel.
  10. Dot Rotten – the black sheep. Zeph Ellis, Young Dot, and now Zeph The Spirit but to most of us, he will always be Dot Rotten. He is on my list despite being the artist that fits the least number of my criteria, but he’s just that good. Well when he actually wants to do grime. I couldn’t get his monthly listens because he has multiple Spotify pages so I didn’t count him in that side. He has cult popularity but is easily the least popular on the list, both in terms of fans and relationships within the scene. He has clashed several MCs, produced so many classic beats, and spun so many tunes. If you watch Dragon Ball Z you will get this reference but Dot is Gohan. For anyone that doesn’t get it the short version is he has all the potential to be the best he just doesn’t tap into it that often in terms of Grime. Producing wise he has all the energy and is still killing it today producing rap records. But Dot is a Grime legend as an MC and he’s shown his potential multiple times.

Honourable mentions: Crazy Titch, President T, Flirta D, Griminal

Let me know your thoughts on socials @Z_Chibs, agreements and disagreements are welcome. (Don’t shoot the messenger, let’s talk opinions)