Despite being around for a long time, Grime music is finally beginning to get the international recognition it deserves. For those of you unawares, grime music is basically England’s answer to rap, often absence of hooks, with minimalist often ‘cheap’ sounding beats (Skepta’s That’s Not Me cost him only £20) there’s no time for frills or experimentation- grime is all in the lyricist. Thanks to Kanye and Drake’s various seal of approvals, grime now has a place in the rap fan’s vocabulary, to help you adjust to this transtition, as a British grime enthusiast, I’ve taken the liberty of compiling ten essential grime tracks for you to get to know with.
Kano – Buss It Up (ft Vybz Kartel)
Along with many of the names on this list, Kano will forever be one of the biggest names to come out of grime. Refusing to follow in the footsteps of grime-gone-sell-out artists such as Professor Green, Kano continues to stay true to his roots. Featured on his 2007 album London Town, Buss It Up was one of the more hard-hitting and unforgiving tracks found on the project. Possessing typical grime traits such as flickers of strings, a quick-fire minimalist beat and little frills, as track 3 on London Town, it prepped you with what Kano had to offer.
Wiley – Gangsters
Often known as the ‘godfather of grime’, Wiley was of course going to make this list. Self-produced, and featuring 3 minutes of gangster-spouting lyricism, Gangsters is the reason why Wiley will continue to hold the coveted grime king label. With such a lyrical onslaught with restricted musical accompaniment, it epitomises the mantra of grime- the lyricist is the key.
Dizzee Rascal – I Luv U
Dizzee Rascal is arguably the biggest artist to make this list in terms of commercial success, while his recent ventures have flown off the shelves and include ‘frowned upon’ collabs with the likes of DJ Fresh and Jessie J, there’s no getting around Dizzee’s heritage. A gaze back on Dizzee Rascal’s discography reveals some of the most timeless grime anthems in its history, I Luv U sits with profoundness as one of the most encapsulating tracks in grime, full stop.
Wiley – She Likes To (Remix)
J2K, Wrigley, Ice-Kid, Wretch 32, Ghetts, Bashy, Scorcher, Chipmunk, Griminal, AND Wiley, all on one instrumental, this was a moment in grime that made history. Each MC has personally been picked out by the man himself to create an unforgettable remix of Wiley’s She Likes To, which means every man on the track is each trying to oust the other, better the other and come out on top, it’s what grime is all about- the grind, and the need to be the best.
Tempa T – Next Hype
The hilarious, £1 budget, Tim Westwood-assisting music video aside, Next Hype remains one of the most integral parts to the grime scene. Venomous, unforgiving, lyrical onslaughts, no choruses, no bridges, nothing to fuck about with- just an all out grime anthem.
Chipmunk – Light Up Central (ft Black The Ripper & Frisco)
Chimpunk is an odd one. The kid puts out some well-and-truly embarrassing tracks like Chip Diddy Chip, rocks Chris Brown-featured number ones, and then signs with T.I.’s Grand Hustle. Completely abandoning and deserting his past, heritage and everything and everyone that went with it. Rewind back to 2008, found nestled within his League of My Own mixtape was an absolute gem, featuring two guest MCs who brought their very best, particularly Black The Ripper.
Tinchy Stryder – Underground
Another example of a grime star-turned-pop star is none other than JAYZ’ business associate Tinchy Stryder. Back before his balls had even dropped at the ripe old age of 16, the pre-pubescent Stryder dropped Underground, a track that remains as important to the grime scene now that it has had a few years to marinate.
Bashy – Black Boys
In my opinion one of the most underrated MCs in grime, you may recognise Bashy for his acting roles in films such as 4,3,2,1, Shank and Cockneys Vs Zombies. But again, rewind back a number of years and we had an outstanding lyricist on our hands, no better epitomised by his 2007 anthem, Black Boys. Encapsulating the struggle of ‘young black boys’ in Britain, and the aspirations to be a musician, it remains a pivotal track to this day. Wondering where Drake gets his Tuscal Leather-style production from? Grime.
JME – JME
‘You’ll never be like JME’, the now-legendary hook on one of grime’s greatest disciples. Self-produced, self-titled and self-celebrating JME is egotistical enough to make Kanye blush.
Like this list? Be sure to check out The West Review’s 50 Songs of 2015!