LORD OF THE DUBS [PART 4]: DUBPLATE DRAMA & THE 2020 VERSION EXCURSIONS

The Dubplate Drama that kicked off the year and the issues within the Grime scene that were highlighted by all that happened has had a reverberating effects that’s continuing to inform the development of the scene today. At this stage in the story of the re-engineering of Grime culture, there’s been plenty of events that’s are likely to inform the early stages of it’s evolution. 

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After the dust settled from the historic clashes between JayKae, Dot Rotten, Wiley and Stormzy at the beginning of the year,  the War Season continued as a South London MC by the name of Yizzy released his wardub responding to the outrageous claims made by the Stevenage based MC SBK of his title as the ‘Prince of Grime’. Yizzy’s dub, along with sending shots a few keys figures in the scene, took the spirit of the prior events by successfully weaponising the palpable thirst for war as a tool make his assault on the scene to climb up the ladder of relevance among his peers.’

Though this dub delivers as a solid send for all involved on a musical level, Yizzy’s tarred reputation as an MC who steals bars does taints the overall product. The controversial claims that have been raised by MC’s in the scenes as well as fans online will continue to follow this MC around based on the reaction to his entry into the war, but with collaborations with Dizzee Rascal under is belt and accumulating the more views on his dub compared to his generational counter parts, he’s definitely far from a right off with all things considered. His willingness to continue to stir the pot, plus bars flows that are up to par, as long another writing scandal doesn’t surround the young mic-man his position as a serious up and coming MC could be a more legitimate title.

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Wiley’s been heavy on Twitter and heavy in the studio, but we haven’t seen much outside of that. The claims of some kind of Grime hub in the form of a shop on Hackney Road along with a load of other plans haven’t come into fruition which isn’t at all surprising considering it’s Wiley we’re dealing with.

However, Wiley’s been running around London and working with a bag of the most relevant artists in the scene in what seems to be an individual series of singles showcasing the talent from across the capital city. It’s unclear when these tunes will land, but it’s safe to assume they’re on the way in a continuation of Wiley’s efforts to parlay the interest of his new fans from singles like ‘Boasty’ and his clash with Stormzy into hardcore Grime fans through social media, which – albeit reckless at times – has been a commendable pursuit. 

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Another MC who’s utilised the events of the clashes earlier this year after being brought into the spotlight by the Wiley Vs Stormzy chapter of the war story, Cadell has since released two singles with two videos, the latest of which being the “alternative” Grime release ‘Put The Knives Down’. Though the song sounds as cliche as the title suggest, Cadell’s vocals offerings from the flows to the lyrics were impressive, turning the concept of ‘Putting The Knives Down’ on it’s head, and instead of condemning violence, rather suggesting an alternative approach to conflict.

Now although clashing is a massive part of Grime, it isn’t the entirety of the culture and that competitive element doesn’t always have to manifest in clashing. This concept hasn’t been overlooked by some of the artists who’ve putting in some considerable work to grow this aspect of the culture, and is now being recognised by some of the bigger platforms indicating a shift in consciousness among the mover and shakers in the broader British Urban movement.

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It was a reassuring moment when Link up TV’s tweet addressed the “dubplare version” trend that was prevalent in the scene once upon a time. Similar to Dancehall culture, it was expected that whenever a new instrumental started to take off that a series of versions from the top MC’s would inevitably land in the record shops and discussion of who’s was best, or at least who’s was your favourite would ensue, indirectly informing competitive attitudes and artistic direction of the MC’s, while also enhancing  the appeal of the music. 

In today’s climate, after all that’s happened this year, this kind of “Safe-Space” for MC’s to spar would be something that a lot of MC’s and producers would benefit from embracing and this fact hasn’t escaped some of the forward thinking members of the scene.

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Jammz, who teamed up with Jack Dat along with Buggsy, Blay Vision and Mayhem NODB towards the end of last year with the ‘French Montana Riddim Version Excursions’ releases has made a firm forward step towards reintroducing the concept. That along with the Grime label ‘South London Space Agency’ who released the Grandmixxer Versions series featuring Mez, PK, along with Spooky’s recent Version release ‘Haunted Joyride’ which dropped in Dec. The continued efforts of some keys figures does strongly suggest that there will be more to come in this area of the game

With the wardubs flying and the clashing set to continue, plus the strong potential for a new variety of version selections from some of the scenes leading producers flooding the streets, the shift from Grime being considered the UK’s “Hip Hop” towards being more accurately considered the UK’s “Dancehall” are signals that the broader culture is moving in a direction that lends itself to better results in terms of the quality of the music and overall appeal of the culture as dynamic “Dance music genre” that delivers on a global level.

At this particular point in history it seems as though the people who care about Grime culture and are in a position to help elevate the scene are doing what they can innovate and inspire…

From JME’s offline releases and Gorilla-Street Party-Pirate Radio events to Jammz, Jack Dat, Spooky and Oil Gangs efforts to kick start the ‘Version Excursion’ wave, the collective commitment of some key members of the scenes from across the generations to elevate the culture is in full effect, with what I’m sure will be more inspiring developments to come as the months progress.

To be continued…

Written by Timi Ben-Edigbe

/@TIMI.WATSONROSE   

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