THE ULTRAVIOLET GLIDE // 001 [MIX]

Introducing the first installment in a series of mixes which features exclusive Jazz and Soul infused Grime & UK Drill mashups, along with the assorted stylings of UK R&B. So, scroll down and press play for a 30 minute musical journey through the soul soaked sounds of The ‘Ultraviolet Glide’.💫

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POSTED BY: @TIMIWATSONROSE

JAZZ, GRIME & CROSS-POLLINATION IN THE CAPITAL

Throughout modern history the soundtrack to the lives of young London has always been in a state of flux, with new genre’s popping in, old ones popping out and the cycle repeating itself time and time again. Grime music has been at the forefront of the conversation around deaths and rebirths in recent times, however developments in the bubbling London Jazz scene and world dominating UK Drill scene have highlighted a growing attitude toward collaboration that could inform some interesting results.

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In the latter part of the last decade the London Jazz scene was in a state of regeneration with it’s recent injection of young, unapologetic Londoners who’s tastes and styles have been shaped by the sounds of the underground music that’s inhabited the cities many sub-cultures. Musicians such as Yussef Dayes, Moses Boyd and Kamaal wiliiams are some of the leading lights in this new world and have successfully introduced the music and culture of Jazz musicianship to a whole new generation – myself included. 

With the spirit of improvisation which is at the core of both worlds, you can see, like the Grime MC uses bars and flows as their instrument riding the riddims fed by the DJ, this relationship between rhythm, cadence and live improvisation is what makes each art-form unique in there own right. 

What’s become evident of late is that cross-collaboration between Jazz musicians and Grime MC’s does present a valuable opportunity for both worlds to benefit from the successes of their respective scenes, which was highlighted in a live session between Kamaal Williams and Mez a couple of years back. Where producers like Swindle and Silkie who brought the world of Jazz into the Grime sphere with their particularly Jazzy production styles, up until this point not many had successfully brought the world of Grime into the world of Jazz. But with both movements looking set for further growth and development in the coming years, more cross-collaboration could yield some interesting results as the months progress.

Outside of the respective worlds of Jazz and Grime, crossover work has also been a theme among forward thinking music makers in other pockets of the broader British underground scene. The UK Drill movement which’s gone from strength to strength has been experiencing it’s own wave of cross collaboration. From the Headie One X Fred Again project ‘GANG’ – which saw the likes of Jamie XX back in the mix on production duties for the first time in a long time, to the likes of DJ and formiddable “Future Garage” and House producer Joy O recently teaming up with UK Drill MC ‘KO’ on the song ‘Untitled’.

What’s become clear is that the melting pot of modern music in the UK has reached a point where musicians from all corners of the map are breaking down the barriers that separate their worlds and working together in a way that should inspire more collaborations of the vein, which can only bodes well for the future.

The mass crossover potential in the broader UK movement looks as though it could lay fertile ground to sow the seeds of innovation on our home turf if things continue. For Grime MC’s in particular it presents an opportunity to broaden their horizons and take advantage of experimentation that’s taking place. With Grime fraternity vowing to throw-out the rule book earlier this, whats happening in London right now is the perfect time to try new things by taking advantage of the eclectic music talent across the capital.

Cross pollination in music and the art of bringing together different styles and genres does invariably create something fresh in the process, and with a noticeable rise in musicians seeking collaboration outside of their respective scene’s it comes across strongly that we’re once again on the cusp of another special period for UK artists and the post lockdown landscape of live music. 

Written by Timi Ben-Edigbe

/@TIMI.WATSONROSE

WATSON ROSE TINTED REMIXES

Last year I did a mix series called ‘Soulscape’in The Streets’ – taking UK Drill instrumentals and mashin’ ’em up with soulsoaked beats from UK Garage to experimental post-dubstep instrumentals. I planned on following it up this year, however when I listening back to the original series there was something special about the end product and the time it was made that upon reflection, I didn’t want damage the artistic integrity of it’s original quality. Since I made that series a lot has changed in the realms of UK Drill and broader Black British music. You only have to look at Headie One’s latest project -GANG’ where he teamed up with the likes of Jamie XX, along with the melodic sounds of contemporary UK Drill to see that what was unique at the time, is less significant today. So, to return to this format – in my opinion – just wasn’t going to have the same effect.

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That being, I will be producing a new mix series in a effort to create something thats distinctly different to the sounds that are widespread  today, the details of which will be available soon. But for now, you can check out a couple of the edits I made when planning the 5th installment to enjoy in the meantime.

Keep it locked for more updates and stay safe.

POSTED BY: @TIMI.WATSONROSE

LORD OF THE DUBS [PART 7]: CORONAVIRUS, CLASHES AND CHAOS

It was all looking up in the world of Grime and broader Black British music culture. That was until the global pandemic known as Covid-19 hit the UK shores and towns and cities across the nation were put on lockdown. For all intents and purposes, from sports to the arts, progression was put on pause. But, with that said, forward thinking members of the scene have taken the opportunity capitalise on the moment and continued to entertain the masses.

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Shoutout C4 for being the first to merchandise the mask ting – salute.

As everyone began to accept the inevitable and adapt to the climate some artists turned to their craft to take them through this period of uncertainty. One such MC was the young mic man known as SBK, who decided to send a shot at the North London newcomer by the name of Subten – who got in the mix of the warfare that kicked off the year with the Wiley dub which was entitled ‘Back To The Village’. With Yizzy closing the door on his feuds with certain MC’s, Subten seemed to be one of the few MC’s that could be a justified target for SBK, so, in the name of war, he waged his offensive in the form of the track ‘Back To The Village’.  It’s unclear if Subten will respond, but the stage has been set, and we’ll have to see how this one goes.

 

As the days and weeks of  a nationwide quarantine progressed in the UK and the US, a lot of us have been tuned in to the beat battles that were sweeping the states and garnering global attention. The culture of clashing is intrinsic to the nature of Grime culture, and the excitement generated by these wars were beginning to inspire some action on our homeshores leading to arguably the most talked about clash since Stormzy and Wiley went head to head in January.

Skepta and Jammer took to insta live for an impromptu beat battle which resulted in a spectacle of epic proportions. Both artists dug deep in the crates, but what made it special was the interactions between the two from Skepta talking up the war and Jammer’s comical reactions. If you missed it, it’s a kinda “You had to be there” situation, but some did manage to capture some of magical moments that will give you an idea of the experience, and incentive to not miss out on the potential clashes that are the cards.

 

 

Although Jammer came with some serious selections and created some magical moments, by popular opinion Skepta took the title with a landslide victory, as reflected in the rundown by some of the key figures in the scene.

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As DJ Logan Sama accurately mentioned, when Jammer dropped the Destruction vocal it was an emotional moment particurlary when the late great Esco verse dropped in. If you wanna sample a piece of the energy check out the extended vocal below – pure Grime gold.

 

 

Following this clash the thirst for more war was a feeling felt by everyone who shared the experience, and work began on coordinated a follow up affair…

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The Rapid Vs DaVinChe clash is one I’m sure all the hardcore Grime fans would love to see. Two Triple OG producers with two contrasting and distinctive styles digging in the crates and clashing for the culture is the stuff that dreams are made of. But with no confirmation from DaVinChe, we can only hope he’ll come out of the shadows to take uo the challenge and gives the people another standout spectacle to lift spirits in these disparaging times at some point in the future – although, for some reason, this seems unlikely.

 

 

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There’s been a lot of people calling it on, but confirmations of who will actually engage in the war are still pending, but we’ll surely be seeing more of these clashes as the weeks progress, especially with Rude Kid & Spyro now confirmed to throw down for the culture.

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With all the attention on the producers, this instalive format lends itself to clashing in all forms, and it was only a matter of time before someone encouraged the MC’s to take part.

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With Jammer now pushing for some vocal match up’s, it’ll be interesting to see how Grime in the digital landscape will shape out in the coming weeks. But, I’m the products of this circumstance driven format will yield some more entertaining moments, and inform the music to come.

Written by Timi Ben-Edigbe

/@TIMI.WATSONROSE

 

LORD OF THE DUBS [PART 6]: COMPETITION, COMPLAINTS & AYIA NAPA STORIES

At this point entering the 3rd month of 2020, the tension within the Grime that informed the clashes that took place has shifted from the sound-war into a different kind of conflict that’s raising a broader issue that in some regards is holding back the development of the scene.

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Grime culture has always been about competition and fighting for recognition, but the tone of affairs among a lot of artists has become quite resentful and has started to manifest into a culture of complaining and clout chasing. This hasn’t gone unnoticed by the more forward thinking members of the scene who’ve challenged this issue, but the fact remains that this attitude is growing in prevalence and is doing nothing to push the scene forward.

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The remarks made by Saskilla and Grandmixxer reflect the attitude approach that’s required to make a success in the scene, and it’s encouraging to see some reputable figures with influence trying to redirect this trend. January was a month of excitement, February was a month of development and it would seem that March is looking like a month of reflection. Artist’s who feel they haven’t been recognised are taking to Twitter to vent their frustrations, but the fact remains that when all is said and done, the music is what counts, and as the weeks progress, I hope the efforts made to channel this frustration back into the music will prevail so more artist’s can capitalise on the growing interest in the broader Black British cultural movement.

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Wiley, who’s consistently been encouraging this on a major scale has continued his efforts to elevate scene with his work rate on max, flinging out the features while also presenting a plan for the Grime scene to level up using the blueprint that raised his profile in his early career.

As Wiley highlighted in a recent Instagram video he dropped a couple weeks back, the value of performing on the circuit in Ayia Napa cannot be ignored. We all have a special relationship with the music that was the soundtrack to the happiest moments in our lives, and for the new generation of Grime acts, taking over Ayia Napa would undoubtedly do a lot for elevating the scene. Though nothing is official just yet, key figures in the UK are tying to make this dream a reality.

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Though back in the day, Ayia Napa was shrouded in bad press due to the many incidents that took place on the island in the mid noughties, times have very much changed since then. The street level conflicted that informed the problems that persisted in Ayia Napa don’t really exist within the Grime scene anymore. So, where it may’ve been risky business trying to get the whole scene to cooperate in order to run the relevant shows and sets in Cyprus before, that is not the case today, presenting the perfect time for Grime to return to it’s international roots.

Outside of the Ayia Napa stories and twitter complaints there are a few underground artists that are keeping their nuts down and creeping on a come up. SBK who rose to notoriety when he  engaged in the Grime Scene War Season at the beginning of the year has parlayed the new found attention on him to stake a claim as the ‘Prince Of Grime’ despite Yizzy’s earlier attempts to crown himself with the same title. Though the two aren’t continuing the lyrical back forth’s, this conflict will surely shape the contributions going forward.

Since moving to London from Stevenage recently, SBK’s graft has started to get some recognition from some of the more established artists in the scene. After a video surfaced on Twitter of him in the studio with JME, it’s clear to see that his talent is being recognised and he will continue to grow over the course of the year.

Another MC who’s starting to breakthrough is West London’s GHSTLY XXVII AKA GHS who’s recent release ‘Flex’ is getting some radio spins and social media shares since it dropped less than a week ago.

Although GHS is in the early stages of his career, on a personal level, I’m very much a fan of his style and delivery. That slylee gravily tone is – to me at least – reminiscent of Ruff Sqwad’s ‘Mad Max’. Obviously they are two very different MC’s, but at the same time, with the reality that Mad Max is no longer around, it’s nice to hear someone who strikes the same chords that made Mad Max’s style appealing to me.

Outside of the Grime scene antics, the man that arguably kicked off the war season has continued to send shots and deliver the war dubs. Dot Rotten, who’s online dispute with Sneakbo resulted in a ‘G check’ in Angell Town and subsequent photo and video of the confrontation circulating on social media has doubled-down on the dispute and taken it to the studio.

Though this felt like a case where it may’ve been better to let sleeping dogs lie, for one reason or another, Dot has decided to express his disdain for the Sneakbo, the Brixton area and a whole host of artists he know longer respects for the way they responded to the action taken against him in his latest release ‘Snitchbos Get Stitches’. I hope this doesn’t result in anymore conflict outside of the music, but the fact that the song is really good makes it unlikely this will be completely ignored by those associated.

So with the Grime scene in a state of reflection and restructuring, and Dot Rotten embracing his rogue status, there is a lot more to come this year, but we’ll just have to wait and see how it all shapes out.

To be continued…

Written by Timi Ben-Edigbe

/@TIMI.WATSONROSE

RHYTHM, BLUES AND UK DRILL

It was always a matter of time before the most exciting sound of the moment would take a more soulful direction. Even looking at a lot of UK Drill releases today, it’s clear to see that the production side of the genre has received a heavy injection of melody and emotion which has definitely enhanced it’s appeal. From Headie Ones Music X Road album, to Dappy & Russ’s recent release ‘Splash’ the move towards creating a more melodic sound has really started to take shape. 

This trend towards taking the high-energy from the rhythm section of a genre and layering it up with chords and melodies to create a new dimension is something that’s been prevalent for years. From Teddy Rileys use of the hard Hip Hop sound to inform the New Jack Swing movement which fused Boom-Bap and R&B in the early 90s, to the likes of Terror Danjah, Skepta and a whole host of Grime producers using the same principle to introduce a soulful take on the Grime sound which lead to the now recognised musical styling’s of the R&G phenomenon.

At this stage in the development of the broader Black British music scene, there’s been a few artists taking this approach to their music which may be ushering in a new summer sound that’s set to elevate the culture and further expand on the global reach of Britain’s bubbling underground artists.

With Jorja Smith’s preview of an early UK Drill and R&B fusion hitting the internet December last year – along with like minded producers and vocalists indulging in this area of artistry – it seems like a sound bet that this addition to the arsenal of artistic approaches to the creating R&B music strongly suggests that the future of UK Drill and  UK R&B is looking exceedingly bright.

Written by Timi Ben-Edigbe

/@TIMI.WATSONROSE

LORD OF THE DUBS [PART 5]: THE ART OF WAR

Following on from part 4, the Grime scene war season opened up a new chapter over the weekend with a couple new faces joining in on the action and in doing so, further elevating the efforts to rebuild the scene.

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Possibly due to the Valentines Day hangover, the mood on Twitter on Saturday was the most loving and least hostile I think I’ve ever seen. The abundance of positive energy being shared for Valentines day had, what seemed like everyone, trying to share positive energy and uplift people in what had been a bit of a politically hostile week with the Jamaica 50 scandal putting a dark cloud of Blighted Britain. But the positive, non-confrontation, pro-inspirational attitude that was spreading on the socials all came to halt when out of nowhere Stormzy drops into the TL with this alarming statement.
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With news of Stormzy finally honoring a follow up clash with Wiley spreading like wildfire, so many questions around the topic of the re-ignition of this particular beef began to present themselves. The first of which being the discussion on conduct within Grime. The initial Wiley & Stormzy saga and the amount of “Mum related insults” were a big topic of discussion, and this particular issue was raised again when the two began laying into eachother online on a next hype.

 

Tempa T in particular was making considerable effort to push that conversation.

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You have to admire the Tempz’s intention to raise the level of maturity within the scene. I agree with the sentiment that Mum’s should be left out it, but at the same time, if we’re gunna start censoring the the bars, then the Music is going to lose it’s integrity to some degree.

 

Now while we’re on the topic of integrity, the action Stormzy took over the weekend does raise questions about his own integrity and true intentions. Though he’s claimed to want to honour the culture by clashing Wiley on radio, it should be noted that Wiley did offer him out for a Radio clash not long before and the request was very much aired. Which makes you wonder why he wants to do it now? You could make the argument that Stormzy’s been busy with his tour and hasn’t been available to honour the follow up. But the reality is, he’s made it abundantly clear since the initial clash that he had no desire to pursue it any further.

If you ask me, this may be an attempted to spark up some more publicity to push ticket sales and raise his credibility in the scene. I feel like, based on the opinions shared online by the likes of Wiley and Poet reflect this reality. I believe Stormzy, although highly successful in his field, is not satisfied with his status as effectively being a ‘Popstar’. In his interview with Charlamagne he talks about not having the opportunity to collab with Drake and based on the way he discussed the topic, it came across strongly that this was something that concerned him. After all, Drakes worked with the other top flight Black British hoodstars so why not, Big Mike? The answer to this isn’t exactly clear, but I believe, street credibility may be a factor.

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Wiley’s continued to push the conversation around a live clash at the o2 involving Eddie Hearn. This has been an idea that’s been floating around for sometime now. It’s unclear whether this will come together, especially given the conflict between the two, but the reality is, that an event like this would give Stormzy the credibility he truly desires and be a interesting new take on how Grime could be performed. Though it’s not necessary to involve Eddie Hear at all, with there being plenty of promoter – Eskimo dances Cheeky for instance. However, there would be a lot to gain from the involvement of Matchroom and there elite promotional reach and experience.

 

After the hype between Wiley and Stormzy fizzled out on Twitter when Stormzy made his final call for Wiley to clash him on Radio, Jammer pop’s up out of absolutely no where to stick his horse in the race.

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After Jammer’s little flurry, things went a quite for a little while. That was until Yizzy dropped his follow up wardub ‘Prince Of Grime 2’ in which he sends for Jammer, AJ Tracey, Mez and Dot Rotten again with this highly creative war dub selection, salute.

 

After Yizzy delivered his dub there was a period of a couple hours while people took it and gave their verdicts. Now this is the part of the story that where it gets especially interesting. Jammer, who’d spent a considerable amount of time saying all sorts about Wiley, was doing all the talking and none of the working. Meanwhile, completely unbeknownst to the rest of us, Mez was quietly preparing to shower down on a certain MC who tried to question his pen.

 

How Mez executed his wardub was a example, and excellent execution of, ‘The Art Of War’. He kept expectations as low as possible by not saying anything on twitter, and subsequently over delivered in this devastating wardub. Mez always receieved a bit of criticism for his style, but since spitting alongside the father of his flow D Double E, it was almost accepted he would be the new successor of this particular style. The dub delivers on flows, content and punchlines consistently throughout the track, and in my opinion, has been one of the best wardub’s of the year, but I’ll let you be the judge of that.

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The Grime scene seems to be growing legs with a conceited effort made by some of the movers and shakers in the scene develop the culture by asking the right questions and trying to deliver the answers.

 

It’s been inspiring to see the Grime scene becoming a more formidable part of the Black British cultural movement with a team effort on the part of the artists to push the boundaries with the developments we’ve seen so far this year show no signs of stopping.

To be continued…

Written by Timi Ben-Edigbe

/@TIMI.WATSONROSE

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   

FROM TWO TONE TO ROAD RAP: EXPLORING THE STREET SOUNDS OF COVENTRY

If we rolled it back to the early 80s it wouldn’t of been unusual to associate the humble city of Coventry with a progressive music scene and vibrant youth culture. The large Afro-Caribbean community, and broader working clash culture throughout the small the city of Coventry – for the period the gave you the likes of The Special’s and Two Tone records – was a symbol and product of modern multiculturalism.

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The 80s Ska Movement that swept the nation and gave us bands like The Madness, Bad Manners and The Selecter was indicative of a progressive social evolution across Britain and a small city like Coventry with it’s multicultural heritage is the type of place a movement like this should’ve continued flourish. But unfortunately because of Coventry’s small size – being a help in the beginning, hindered it from continued to maintaining any prevalence among broader youth culture. So after the successes of Two Tone records the tides changed and Coventry returned to being in some regards a desolate cultural ‘Ghost Town’.

However, things were bubbling when the Global influence of the 90s US Hip Hop movement continued to influence youth culture and Coventry was not out of it’s reach. Much like PDC in Brixton or Moorish Delta from Birmingham, crews like COV came with the classic Americanised style synonymous with the era. Despite this being an almost laughable attempt at Rap music today, when you consider the time and respectable levels of lyricism on the track, you still gotta give them credit for their contributions towards laying the foundations for the future rap talent of the city.

Like most cities in the UK, in the years between the early noughties and now, there was no notable musicians from the Urban sphere coming out of Coventry. That was until the latter stages of the last decade with the nationwide popularity of Grime and UK Drill fueling some much needed creativity, culminating in a new wave of rap acts.

From the likes of RB7 in UK Drill, or Shakavelli and Jdiz’s UK Rap selections or the collective C3’s offering that rest in the realms between Grime and UK Drill, over the last few years Coventry has really began to deliver music that matches up with the standards of the time, culminating in a recipe for inevitable crossover success.

Enter Jay1 who rose to fame with the popular hit ‘Your Mrs’. Jay1, like the likes of Ramz in the past managed to come with a song that connected at the right time. Though his success was meteoric, his legitimacy as a front runner for the city was short lived. First with his inaugaral album being widely panned by critics – namely the LinkUpTv show ‘The Listening Party’. Along with the recent scandal that surrounded Jay1, Dot Rotten and Steel Banglez only serving to further damage his reputation.

Though Jay1 has a healthy fan base and is one of the first Coventry rappers to claim mainstream success, his status as the torch bearer for the city has been compromised by his lack of critical acclaim allowing the title to be open to other contenders..

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Pa Salieu is someones who is receiving the critical acclaim for his music and is firmly defining his own sound and the city he comes from. Pa’s, who’s arguably the biggest credible rap act to come out of Coventry delivers a credible street edge and off the wall quirks that form an compelling package.

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Though he’s been compared to J Hus by many, his music suggests room for long term development into something of truly his own. The subtle twang of his Gambian and Coventry city heritage are present in his vocal style and status as a bonafide outlier all contribute to his distinct appeal.

With Jay1 and Pa Salieu, along with rappers such as Skatta, Shakavelli and JDidz,plus collectives such as C3 and RB7 accumulating a humble buzz online, the work towards Coventry solidifying it’s status as a city to be taken seriously is well and truly under way. A diverse range of styles from the street sounds of the aforementioned artists, to the more bubble gum sounds of songs like ‘Canada Goose’ by Junior X Tayz which has racked up a tidy 200k views on YouTube so far.

The online success of these underground acts highlights that the artists in Coventry are certainly beginning to connect with the masses. They have a few different artists getting significant 6 figure streaming figures, while all also offering diverse styles and sonics. The Dance music of Bristol, the recent rap success of Manchester and the hardcore Grime scene in Birmingham have all had their moments in the spotlight over the years and looking at the landscape today, Coventry’s gearing up for their own Urban music moment in the not too distance future.

Written by Timi Ben-Edigbe

/@TIMI.WATSONROSE

 

RELOADS & RHYMES [PART 2]: BACK TO THE VILLAGE

As the weeks progress it becomes more and more clear that the shift in consciousness within the Grime scene that’s been seen of late is turning into something that’ll make for a very special year…

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For as long as he’s been around JME has been a leading light in championing independent music. From the early days of designing all the Boy Better Know artwork it’s always been clear the JME’s attitude towards brand integrity and independence has always been big a part of his music and wider offerings as an artist overall. JME’s always been passion about the culture that surrounds his music, and his latest album has been used a tool enhance cultural experience for his fans in a way that’s not been pursued before…


The interesting decision to release his music in this way, has highlighted an important truth that artists have the power to control the culture around their music. Even in the digital era it’s still possible to manufacture the relationship we had with music that we once took for granted in the analogue era. I’m not suggesting that everyone should do what JME did, but it goes to show that there’s a lot of room to be creative in this day and age with how you engage with your audience and its members of the Grime that are starting to apply the principle of scarcity and demand which added extra level of appreciation and enjoyment for the music back era of CD’s and Tapes.

JME’s not the only one making a conscious effort to inform positive change and progression in the culture. Over the last week Wiley’s be vocal on Twitter about rebuilding the Grime scene and investing in it’s future with a few novel ideas.

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Since the clash with Stormzy Wiley’s had his battery pack on max, with an abundance of new music and a commitment to pushing the conversation within the Grime scene which has been incredible to witness. And what’s more incredible, are the things that are being suggested and the proposals that are being presented.

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Now it doesn’t take much imagination to see that Spooky Vs Wiley – in what would effectively be a soundclash – is something that everyone would love to see. Simply having Wiley on the decks is novelty in itself, but the ground breaking quality of this event in the form of Wiley being on the 1s and 2s is the only thing that makes this clash special.

Grime culture has yet to fully embrace the soundclashing side of broader clashing culture, and it seems fitting that in the wake of the clashes that kicked off the year someone took the initiative to capitalise on the interest in clashing and use it to elevate the culture by presenting a path for DJ’s to be a part of the competitive landscape of the contemporary Grime scene. Not much has been said since Wiley offered Spooky out last week, but seeing as they’ve announced that they’ll be holding the clash on Dejavu FM tonight and Spooky’s weekly show is on every Monday (8pm), I’ll guess we’ll be locking in to see if more incredible Grime history will be made this week.

In addition to his efforts to maintain interest in Grime through the music, Wileys also been vocal about investing directly into the culture…

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Now, it’s too soon to tell if any of the above will come to fruition. Wiley’s famous for not turning up to events, so there’s a healthy level of scepticism around whether these things will actually happen. But what’s clear is that the ideas, whether serious or otherwise, are one’s that should be considered whether Wiley is the one to follow them through or not. Soundclashing is something the scene would really benefit from embracing. A new exciting element to the music and culture which can inform more of the social appeal and social events that will help grow the Grime audience. A new record shop which stocks merchandise from all the great Grime acts would be a great cultural landmark and a great resource for independent artists gain exposure and fans to have a physical home for the scene.

Though Wiley’s ghostly reputation proceeds him, he has been turning of late, with his appearance on iFL TV being a prime example of a possible change in the Godfathers attitude to honoring his commitments…

Wiley and JME aren’t the only musical mavericks making interesting moves here in the UK. From kicking off war season this year, to launching his 366 album project Dot Rotten has also been hard at work. Though illness over the last few days has slowed his consistency some what, Dot has made up for the lack of vocal offerings with this gift to the scene, and yet another contribution to elevating the sound of British Urban music.

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The independent and collective efforts of JME, Wiley and Dot are informing the change that the scene very much needs. From JME’s nonconformist approach to distributing his music which is opening up the conversation about how to release music in 2020, to Wiley pushing the conversation and the boundaries of Grime culture to provide so much needed inspiration within the scene, along with Dot Rotten continuing to churn out the bangers further intensifying the spirit of independence that seems to swirling around the scene today. They say it takes a village to raise a child, and the efforts of the aforementioned musicians are helping towards building the village that’ll raise the future children of the Grime scene.

To be continued…

Written by Timi Ben-Edigbe
/@TIMI.WATSONROSE

RELOADS & RHYMES: EXPLORING THE FUTURE OF GRIME CULTURE

Almost a month into the new decade and fruits of the UK urban scene and it’s continued evolution are being very much enjoyed today. But unfortunately despite evolution being a widespread theme throughout the broader UK movement, the development within the Grime scene in recent years has been lackluster at best.

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JME who’s long term consistency along with a selection of other Grime acts, has contributed greatly to the maintaining interest in the genre by delivering credible projects, but outside of his work, there wasn’t much to talk about. That was until the series of clashes that took us into the new year a couple of weeks ago. From Dot Rotten and JayKae, to Wiley and Stormzy, the abundance of exciting music that came as a direct result reignited the flame that seemed to be burning out and reengaged a generation of Grime fans. What we learned from the clash was that we wanted to hear more Grime and see more clashes, but it also highlighted a conflict in attitudes among the Grime hardcore and broader community.

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The climate on twitter in particular, has reflected this recent shift, with conversation revolving around older Grime fans being stuck in the past, and younger Grime kids being jaded by this attitude. The results of the clashes did a lot for empowering a generation to speak up about their grievances leading to wider discussion of the future of Grime that’s taking place today. It’s the right time to shake things up in the scene, but the issue is, not everyone’s sure where it should go next. So, at this time, in order for us to understand where Grime is going, we have to understand where it came from…

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Indicative of the cyphers, slang and nuanced elements of the culture, Grime was subconsciously or otherwise built to resemble Dancehall culture. Dubplates, riddims, reloads and clashing are all concepts at the core of it’s identity. Even considering Grime’s direct dissension from UK Garage – a form of Dance music – should come as no surprise. The core principle that Grime is made to be”danced to” first is something that shouldn’t be understated or ignored.

Unlike Rap where lyricism takes precedent over anything else, in Grime, because of the nature of the music, flows and energy take precedent in terms of the stylistic approach. This is a fundamental aspect of what makes Grime different to Rap and an important element must be acknowledged when determining it’s future. For many years Grime artists have tried to present their music within the blueprint laid out by the successes of the Hip Hop artists that preceded them, when in realty, this was possibly a misguided a approach for what is in fact a Dance music genre.

You could make the strong argument in 2020 that the bass driven, 808 farting flavour of UK Drill fulfills everything Grime had, and has to offer in a slicker package. You wouldn’t be wrong for thinking that, as UK Drill does deliver in terms of REAL wardubs, never ending social media disputes, flows and punchlines all merged together in a modern sound. But what Drill lacks is a broader lifestyle outside of participating in the highly dangerous criminality illustrated in the music.

Though UK Drill is definitely churning out a higher quality product of the same vein as UK Grime, that’s unfortunately all it’s doing. Grime has so much more to offer in terms of cultural value for the consumer. The popularity of UK Drill among young people has undoubtedly contributed to furthering the obscurity of the Grime music in the Pop culture conversation. However that’s not to say the Grime scene doesn’t have a lot to gain from the popularity of UK Drill in the grand scheme of things…

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The gripping movement has continued to evolve with the sound diversifying to Pop degree with songs such as the Post-Dubstep stylings of Headie One’s track ‘Home’ to Krept & Konans summer release ‘I Spy’. It’s obvious that the UK Drill sound is becoming less exclusively associated with the roads, and now simply being recognised as a formula for modern Rap music. And in a great irony, in doing so, has come to closer resembling Grime music than it ever did before. When you take this and the current influence of the sound into consideration, it only seems fitting that the UK Drill influence will inform a lot of new music, as it’s already beginning to.

Whether Grime starts to sound like Drill or Drill starts to sound like Grime, or Grime starts to sound like something completely different, though the sound is important, what’s more integral to the success of the scene, is that the culture as whole moves closer to it’s “Dance-Hall” roots. The UK Garage foundation and aforementioned parallels between Grime culture and soundsystem culture are – in some regards – more important to Grime music than the sound of the music itself.

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The awakening on social media reflects the few things holding Grime back right now. The Grime community is starting to realise that there’s an air of confusion about the identity of the scene. Though what is abundantly clear is that Grime still has a lot to offer as a cultural movement. During a recent interview with the US Hip Hop Radio Host and pundit ‘Charlamagne Tha God’, Stormzy highlighted some of the comments some of these sentiments during their discussion about Grime.

“Grime’s built on clashing… That’s the total essence of Grime. Being the best MC in the room. I love the fact that Grime’s this word that everyone know’s. But in terms of the actual understanding of it, it’s sonically and culturally a mixture of so many different things, you couldn’t listen to a Stormzy album and know about Grime…If you grow up in London, you know Grime, it’s in your DNA. But when you come and you’re trying to explain it, it’s a very specific mixture so many different things… “

– Stormzy (2020)

Stormzy’s comments reinforce the important notion that Grime is a cocktail of culture, with clashing at it’s core. The Soundsystem scene with it’s clashes, dances, dubplate culture – much like Grime – also has a nostalgic undertone with history and heritage being an integral aspect of the artform. The nature of dubplate culture, taking club classics given a modern twist or a complete overhall to garner the biggest crowd reaction are nuts and bolts of clashing, and in essence is a nostalgia based activity.

So, that same thread of nostalgia that runs through Grime is also a fundamental aspect of the Dancehall scene and it comee across strongly that if our scene took a leaf out of theirs, it would in many regards allow young and old Grime fans alike to have their cake and eat it too. On top of all the cultural benefits, a dubplate fuelled clashing scene would also create a new revenue stream for artists to capitalise off the popularity of their music in a way that wasn’t possible before.

The Grime scene, in terms of it’s sound will adapt to the modern landscape with ease as proven by it’s multiples resurgences in the past. However Grime as a culture, may have a bit of a long road ahead. The future of Grime of the scene is bright, but only if the right investment in building the infrastructure is taken to grow the culture. And this pivotal period in Grime history has presented the perfect opportunity to do restructure and reintroduce Grime as the great British cultural hybrid it was always destined to be.

To be continued…

Written by Timi Ben-Edigbe

/ @TIMI.WATSONROSE

LORD OF THE DUBS [PART 3]: POST WAR POLITICS

The events surrounding Wiley & Stormzy’s clash has had everyone talking over the past week. It gave us some amazing music, a gripping story-line and in it’s wake has re-sparked the interest in Grime music, while also raising a few questions about it’s future in the process. The story that lead us to where we are now and the role Dot Rotten, JayKae, Wiley and Stormzy played in the epic saga has now been well documented all over the internet. But the third and final act of the story had yet to be documented here on Watson Rose, and also seemed to be the most interesting, and important to tell.

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After Stormzy dropped his second dub and public opinion was strongly suggesting that Stormzy had done a lot to win the clash. Wiley was trying to – on the face of it – stay in the fight in his uniquely humorous way…

What happened during this period that had social media lit up was Wiley’s brother Cadell coming out of the shadows to give his damning take on the series of events detailed by Stormzy in his second dub. The Cadell dub was widely overlooked, but not missed by the Grime hardcore who had unanimously positive response to the tune as whole and further reactions to it’s lyrics. The dub’s spaced out instrumental mixed with  Cadell’s concise content, criticising Stormzys interpretation of the events involving himself, and his Dad, has left a lot of people questioning the integrity of the Number 1 charting artist.

Though you can make the argument that poetic license is at play in this incidence. If a man’s gunna fabricate a complete madness, considering he’s widely regarded as an artist who holds their integrity in high regard, this dub has definitely left a lot questions needing answered on the part Stormzy irrespective of the outcome of the clash.

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After Cadell’s dub landed everything kinda simmered down, and it felt like it was as if we took a media break – a kinda half time vibe. The pundits were poppin’ with the plenty of podcasts talking about it and an abundance articles written about it. Everyone was talking about it, like everyone…

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Peter Andre’s blunderous tweet was later deleted but that didn’t prevent the inevitable memes…

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This point in the story marked a distinct change in the tone of the whole occasion. Entertained by Peter Andre’s eediyat move the day prior, everyone was still highly anticipating Wiley’s Eediyat war-dub. But with Stormzy celebrating his now Number 1 single and album, the toxicity of the events prior had some what dissipated. The air of animosity which was heightening the emotions of all involved had lifted and the world around us didn’t seem the same as it was the day before. We were fortunate enough to finally be fed the audio for Wiley’s 3rd send, and the 3rd peculiar phase of this epic saga began.

The ‘Eediyat Skengman 3’ dub didn’t have anywhere near the same contextual appeal of the two that proceeded it. The lyrics that laced the first two dubs were littered with the kind of insults you’d expect in a war. But this time things had noticeably changed.

What the dub did lack in the cussing department, he very much made up for in the venomous delivery and unrivaled energy in the vocal department. He stepped it up a gear in aggression, but dropped it down in content. You could tell the events that took place in between the first two dubs had changed the playing field somewhat. As soon as the ‘Eediyat Skengman 3’ landed the feelings towards the dub seemed to be shared, not among all, but among most. My guy Max Wheeler seemed to some it up the best in our little exchange.

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Shoutout Wiley, he’s got a sense of humour…

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“I told you lot to cut me out the Grime beef, and now you got me killin’ all these Grime neeks…” were the lyrics from an unknown Stormzy song that he adlib’d along on to in his insta-stories last Saturday. The tropical beat was the furthest thing from Grime and what I could imagine was an intentional statement about Big Mike’s attitudes towards the scene and a new track that will surely shed some light on his feelings towards everything that’s happened.

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Stormzy isn’t shy of  paying homage to the heritage and history of the Grime scene , but it comes across strongly that his affinity for the Grime music doesn’t extend towards any desire to be it’s ambassador. Though he made the fateful decision to jump in this clash with Wiley, in retrospect it can’t be taken as a decision that suggests anything more than smart marketing and a willingness to humour the broader Grime community and entertain his fans.

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It’s unlikely Stormzy will return fire at Wiley in this particular way again. But, as a man who’s artistic integrity seemed to be a priority of his and based on what was said by Cadell – and what Stormzy later shared on Instagram – the events surrounding this clash will surely be informing some of Stormzy’s music going forward.

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The war of words between Dot Rotten and everyone else has seemingly fizzled out too, with Dot declaring the end of “War Season” on his recent release ‘Checkmate’. The maverick musician who effectively started this whole madness has capitalised as much as he could. Consistently churning out a diverse selection of bangers on a daily basis for the last few weeks. I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of him, with his rogue status further enhancing to the aura of his new music.

The hysteria that kicked this year off has undoubtedly sparked more interest in Grime with young and old fans replaying their interpretation of the classics.. But what remains to be seen is how Grime will move into the next phase of it’s post-existence. The underlying theme of the older generation at odds with youth in Dot Vs JayKae and Wiley Vs Stormzy. So, the metaphorical triumph of young over old will hopefully be reflected in the music, with a more aggressive and innovative younger generation pushing the boundaries of Grime music going forward.

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The events that kicked off the decade have undoubtedly pushed the conversation within the Grime scene and highlighted some home truths. We’ve learned that Grime clashing is something we all want to see more of. We’ve learned Grime music is something we want to hear more of in the future. The only thing that’s unclear is what Grime music should actually sound like…

To be continued…

Written by Timi Ben-Edigbe | @TIMI.WATSONROSE