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.



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.


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…



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.


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


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.


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…

Jammers Basement – Waltham Forest…

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…



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



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


Merely 9 days into the new year and we’ve been treated to, and captivated by what already has the makings of one of the most memorable social events of the decade.  The complex series of feuds that lead us to where we’re at today has been an entertaining, exciting and inspiring journey thus far, and if you checked out the ‘Lord Of The Dubs – Part 1’ post from earlier this week you’ll have half the story of the saga so far. The post went live before Stormzy dropped his first dub, so his particular path into the trenches had yet to be detailed. So, here’s let what lead to the most captivated draw-out in Grime history and what we can expect to happen next.

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Now to first truly understand this you have to bare in mind that Wiley’s been on the rampage for a little while now. The geezers been goin’ at man like Ed Sheeran and Drake up and down Twitter, Instagram and virtual every social media platform he hasn’t been banned from for god knows how long. But on the 1st of January and in the midst of the burgeoning clashing climate created by Dot Rotten, Wiley, now swept up in the emotion of whatever was fueling the initial tyraid – intentionally or otherwise – channels his rage into a series of patronising tweets towards AJ Tracey..

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Needless to say AJ didn’t want it and swerved the oppurtunity to engage in the mic war. Similarly to Dot Rotten who received radio silence from Jay1 in their initial fued which triggered his attack on JME, Wiley who’s now full of pent up aggression switches targets and seasons a new cut of beef with a flurry of furious tweets towards – you guest it – Stormzy…

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wiley stormzy 3And thus began the second phase of this spectacular showcase…

Since then we’ve all been enthralled by the Grime music and the gossip surrounding the wardubs delivered by Wiley and Stormzy so far…

It’s safe to say – despite the controversial UK Drill beat – Stormzy took that first round, but their was still everything to play for. Wiley then returns fire with ‘Eediyat Skengman 2’ and keeps himself in the fight, but then this happened…

Big Mike came strong on the first dub, but the follow up was a devasting blow and it was at this point that it became clear that the Eskiboy was severely on the back foot. And he knew it..

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Based on whats unfolded since Wiley and Stormzy have exchanged blows, it’s unclear how the rest of this is gunna run. But what’s abundantly clear is that Dot Rotten’s contributions to the game are being widely overlooked. Not only was he the driving force behind this even happening to a certain extent, but he’s been churning out the bangers alongside the wardubs consistently since he told JME to stop calling him and get in the studio on Christmas Day. Not to mention the fact that he plans on releasing a tune every day this year and he’s done a stella job of sticking to the programme thus far.

Now although Stormzy has Wiley on the ropes right now, the fact the remains that Dot has sent enough considerable shots to a high enough standard to warrant a credible face off at this stage. When Stormzy called himself the “King of Grime” at the end of ‘Still Disappointed’ he opened up the contest for any credible Grime MC who’s worth their weigh in the game to challenge the statement. Which, if you ask me, legitimises Dot Rottens attempts to engage in the war and puts some pressure on Stormzy to address him. Stormzy’s definitely earned his stripes through this whole thing. He got to show the Grime hardcore and casual fans alike that he’s an elite micman. But the King Of Grime he is not, not yet at least …

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Stormzy isn’t the only one who seems as though they were over looking Dot in this whole situation. You could probably put it down to his considerably smaller fanbase, but even the biggest platforms who should “Know Better” weren’t representing the culture accurately. I understand that they probably wanna create a clean-non-confusing poll focusing on the head to head that everyones paying attention to, but it feels like the larger platforms not pushing the wider narrative involving Dot leaves a lot of what’s making this experience even more exceptional out of the story, and thus, some Great British music talent out of the spotlight.

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With JayKae yet to return fire back at Dot since he dropped ‘Shush’, Stormzy and Wiley’s 3rd round still on the cards and rumours of Chip preparing his arsenal the potential for the stakes to be raised even further is a very real possibility.

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With Chip having the pen game, the track record and a fanbase that can’t be ignored with Stormzy claiming supremacy over the scene, the way things are going – if you ask me – he may have more than Wiley to worry about if he wants to truly claim the crown and continue calling himself the King of Grime. But only time will tell…

To be continued…

Written by Timi Ben-Edigbe | @TIMI.WATSONROSE



Now only a single tower block and a couple surrounding low-rises, Nightingale Estate sits at the top of Hackney Downs Park, descretely tucked away behind the trees that line the perimeter of the park. You hardly notice it today or consider that it’s even there. But, prior to it’s demolition in the early noughties, the Nitingale estate was one of the larger and more notorious estates in East London, and if you went to Hackney Downs park back in those days you would’ve of felt it.  The 6 now demolished brutalist blocks that used to line the top of the street would’ve had a profound effect on the visual landscape when compared to today. Along with the sheer amount of people from those blocks and surrounding  low income housing that would’ve frequented the park contributing to the community aesthetic of the time.

It’s hard to imagine it if you weren’t around then, and compared to video, photo’s can only do so much. Although, I did come across this flick from the 80s of a group of some random group of friend on the estate which had something about it…

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Fortunately thought after discovering some old news footage shot in the park, I got more a immersive glimpse into that time the area in the 90s and a little bit more…

Hackney Downs Parks and Nightingale Estate of today…

hackney downs.jpgand the park back in the early 90s. Quite the contrast alie?

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The news footage that these old images comes from is a report on the Nitingale Based Pirate Radio Station ‘Rush FM’ which was born, bread and illegally lived in those very blocks. The report focuses on a particularly mad story revolves around the extreme and slylee mental tactics the guys runnin the station use to keep the authorities from lockin them off.

DTI investigators task on there hands when they found the pirate station they were attempting to raid had been barracaded behind a wall of concrete, with its transmission equipment in a disused flat on the 21st floor of  another block. Contractors called in by the council to enable them to gain access to the flat hit a scaffolding pole wired up to the mains while attempting to drill through the concrete, causing a small explosion. Phials of ammonia and CS gas were also reported to have been found embedded in the concrete.  Those were the levels. Check the video below for more…

The Evening Standard were keeping up the usual fuckry when reporting on the raid as always. Branding the station and crew keeping the lights on as a “Drug Gang” and calling the station a “Fortress” to provoke their typically scandalous reasons…

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The time-capsule pirate radio journey of discoveries, as the Hackney History blog  had some extra links to another interesting little piece from 90s archives on another Hackney station. Who weren’t taking the same measures to stay on the airwaves, but were equally as credible, arguably more widely renowned.

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Kool FM was also originally based around Hackney and Tower Hamlets and is one of the longest running pirates in the world, having broadcast pretty much continuously since 1991. This documentary on Kool FM features a few other pirates from 1996 alongside a police officer from Stoke Newington station on a Station FM phone in which you can check out below.



The conflict among the MC’s in their individual fight for artistic supremacy was a fundamental aspect of British “Rap” culture that’d fade into obscurity of late. Outside of the brutally real sounds of UK Drill. Clashing and sending war dubs as a cultural phenomenon has been a platform for MC’s to showcase their style and “micmanship” using riddims and rhymes as the vehicle. This was at the foundation of Grime culture, but with the scene lacking relevance in recent years, this particular brand of musicianship hadn’t been seen in sometime.

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In the past Grime music harnessed the same energy that made UK Drill popular, without anywhere near the same amount of casualties. It came across strongly that the Grime scene that gave you beef, dizzying wardubs (strictly for the sport), soap opera social media antics and passionate music had all but vanished from existence. That was until this happened:

Grime OG, juggernaut Producer/MC Dot Rotten – known for this maverick status, incredible work rate and highly confrontational attitude. Having had a falling out with longtime production partner ‘Steel Banglez’ over the dealings of Jay1’s most recent single, took it upon himself to harness the media buzz generated by this industry turned public feud by putting the whole beef on wax at the end of last year. While Dot sent for Jay1 expecting to convert the real energy of the dispute into potent and powerful music. Unfortunately for him – at the time at least – Jay1 neglected to take up the challenge.

Thirsty for blood and true to his confrontational nature, Dot recalibrates and sets his cross hairs on a new target. Despite having a history of public disputes, Wiley avoids the firing line at this stage. Instead, for reasons that aren’t abundantly clear, he set his sights on JME – who’d just released his latest album ‘Grime MC’ – an ode to the culture of sorts. JME had spent considerable time in the albums promotional roll out discussing music consumption and the culture that informed the art direction of the overall project. I think this was not missed by Dot which informed his decision to send for JME. I guess in Dot’s mind, if he’s gunna star firing, it only made sense to fire at the most credible member of the scene and the MC wearing the scene on their chest at this particular point..

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It was a fitting decision to send for JME when you consider that the Grime scene was built on clashing, a fundamental element of the culture that’d been somewhat lost in recent years. Although prevalent in Drill music, those wardubs are entrenched in real gang warfare and although its both fascinating and entertaining for those reasons. The style for style, bar for bar, flow for flow integrity and sportsmanship of the “Grime” version of the clashing artform has its own unique charm and appeal, which is less prevalent today.

Where Grime had once been the home of this form of culture, most Grime MC’s these days seem to be more – as Wiley once ironically put it – on a GETALONG GANG ting. And unfortunately, although that is a good thing in terms of everyone having happy and healthy relationships, for the sake of the culture it’s removed a vital component that made grime, grimey and the music exciting.

After JME turned down the invitation to clash, Wiley stepped up to the plate towards the end of the year and has so far released two war dubs. Unfortunately for Wiley his dubs paled in comparison to Dots  quality and sheer volume of diss tracks – and he took way too long to respond, but he did officially engage in the war. Which still counts for a lot, all things considered. This was all followed up by JayKae delivering the shattering send “Shush” for Wiley and Dot, raising the stakes and solidifying the return of clashing culture. Since then even a virtually unknown MC by the name of SBK has jumped in to the clash with the dub ‘Death by Poetry’, which he sent for not only Dot, but Yizzy, T Roadz and other YG MC’s illustrating the change in consciousness among Grime fans. So we can safely assume with the way things are going irrespective of how the clash ends, the remnants of it’s impact will continue to be felt for the foreseable future.


Once upon a time if you were gunna call yourself an MC it was required that you adhere to the strict criteria that validates your title and status. And at one point, if someone – anyone – tried to lyrically draw you out in anyway, you had clap back. Even trickling down to the secondary school playgrounds across the capital. Back in the early 00’s when I was in school if a man asked if “You got chats?” if you didn’t spit your bars, you couldn’t really call yourself an MC and you didn’t. If anything you were mocked for being a mook because that’s how confrontational the culture was and is some ways returning to once more.

On top of all the clash antics, what makes things even more interesting across the broader UK Rap scene at this particular point in British Music history is the stylistic direction the production side UK Drill has taken recently. Dot Rotten himself having a number of production credits in the scene only serves to highlight the shift towards the sonics closer aligned with the Grime sound, rather US Drill sound it originated from. With the fundamental difference in the scenes being the criminality among the most popular artists.

It’s abundantly clear there’s an insatiable thirst for aggressive music among young people in the UK which has accelerated the rise of UK Drill, but this also leaves a lane open for MC’s who possibly aren’t criminally inclined, but have an aggressive sound and something to offer the landscape of modern music to carve out careers and produce some exciting sounds with the realms of possibilities being opened up.


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With what’s happening in UK Drill, along with Wiley and Dot Rotten settin’ pace in steering the scene back towards its roots with clashing at the core of UK Grime. It’s looking like the successes of the last 10 years of British Urban Music are set to continue. Building on the foundations of the old, while breaking new ground with a refined UK Urban Scene, executed as a more streamlined, enhanced and exciting outfit going into the new decade. 

To be continued…

Written By Timi Ben-Edigbe | @TIMI.WATSONROSE



The wicked and wonderful, horrifying and humorous stylings of the explosive street sound known as UK Drill has – at the turn of the decade – penetrated urban culture to the it’s core and captivated the imagination of a whole generation. From Hackney to Harrow, there ain’t a hood in the homeland that doesn’t have a  cliqued up group of yoots, recording tunes, releasing tunes and racking up YouTube views – alongside their occupationally hazardous criminal charges to create, at the very least a humble buzz in their hometown. The sheer amount of Drill rappers is boundless and as a result the amount of available music is the same. 

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In a sea of singles, mixtapes, music videos and viral violation videos it’s hard to distinguish the (one trip pony) gunman MC’s from the gifted MC’s. So in an effort to recognise the talented and accomplished front liners flying the flag for the UK and setting pace for the global stage, I present to you (in my humble opinion) the 5 most relevant UK Drill crews of the moment.



Another crew firing out of Brixton, 150 – like 67 – have long roots in the Drill game, and on the roadside. With M24 leading the charge in terms of consisten solid releases, alongside Stizzy Stickz, S Wavey, Grizzy and MDargg puttin in the graft the crew has kept their name in the conversation year in year out. With S Wavey getting signed last year and M24 continuing to hold it up this year.they have still maintained enough quality in the more recent times, but not enough to allow them to sit – if you ask me – above the competition for the number 4 spot in terms of relevance today.



If you don’t know about 67 you’re probably not reading this, so don’t need to give their backstory. These man – out of the original UK Drills dons – have done the best to remain relevant, experiment and at the same time maintain all credibility. The workrate has been consistent since they first touch down and all in all – as a crew – produced solid selections throughout. It’s a difficult time for the Brixton boys with LD & ASAP going down for a county lines sting this year and finding themselves slapped with 4.5 years. Dimzy seems to be holdin it down for the older set with youngers like AK stepping into the picture in recent months.

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So, although it’s going to be a while til we see the full crew back together, the 67 seems like it will live on for the foreseeable future and the legacy as London’s all time leading drillers will remain in tact.. For now at least.



Making the most noise with the wickedest war dubs in West London CGM – formerly known as 1011 are cited as the crew that changed game. When the crew went viral in the summer of 2018 leading to the first asbo of its kind for music in the UK banning them from releasing music on YouTube and leading to a relatively short prison term for 5 of the members and their music making its way onto porn sites (another first) as a result. 1011 porn.jpg

They’ve had their names ringin’ on the socials and streets since they burst on the scene. A long list of bangers and a instalive and snapchat social buzz built on violations and brazen antics has put them in the upper echelon of UK Drill talent. With Digga D, along with brother Sav’O and Horrid Huncho building a humble buzz before a Digga and Sav found themselves being remanded into custody in earlier this year after the jakes linked them to a shooting in West London not long before, which has impacted the consistency there most recent releases.

With the fate of the most prolific leaders of the UK Drill second gen that played a huge role shaping the scene hanging in the balance with the Digga D’s freedom in the new not completely off the’s unclear how much they’ll there most talented MC’s will  influence the future of the scene. But despite that, seeing as they still have members on road and they freedom isn’t completely gone they can retain their place in the top selection of the moment.


Zone 2

Widely considered to be one of the most dangerous crews in South London. Zone 2’s hit rate on and off the streets has been unrivaled in the second half of this year. The crew has released a string of high energy singles and in terms of sinister sonics are completely unrivaled in the scene today. There isn’t a bigger set of talented demonic drillers in the capital. There most resent release as a full crew entitled ‘No Censors’ was taken off YouTube within hours when they deliberately broke YouTube guidelines by naming murder victims, and since then has persistently been removed within days. This, along with their music does a lot to illustrate their street credentials and sheer brazenness. 

Their legitimacy as arguably the most untouchable crew with virtually 0 L’s taken and a seemingly clean shirt on the very real “scoreboard” – also highlighted by the sonic the hedgehog sound effects over each name in the aforementioned release ‘No Censors’ reinforces this face. With everyone of their opps including Harlem Spartans and Moscow17 has unfortunately lost multiple members in the last 2 years reinforcing their weight on the roads. The team have put in sufficient work in all capacities to cement their status has 1 of the UK’s most relevant criminal and artistically commercial cartels. 



Following in the footsteps of the (slightly) olders Headie One & RV, BandoKay, Double Lz and SJ – alongside their team maters – have been beating it up this. Headie One’s achievements in the last year have been undeniable. A leading light in the scene in the phase the followed 67’s initial buzz, the crew he claims, hailing from The Broadwater Farm estate in Tottenham, OFB have been one of the most exciting collectives in terms of the amount of contrasting styles, flows and accolades exclusively within drill. With Abra Cadabra making a major breakthrough buzz in the second quarter of the decade with ‘Robbery’, followed up by the phenomenal rise of the OFB set comprising of Bandokay, Double Lz and SJ in the last couple years.

Despite the unfortunate timing of SJ receiving a life sentence last month, the rest of the boys have shown no sign of slowing down. And will be taken their furious flows into the new decade with even more exciting results.


Honorary shoutout to Dot Rotten who outside of waging war with the whole Grime scene – a subject I’m gunna touch on next week – has also been contributing to the UK Drill landscape behind the scene under the ‘BRIGADE NETWORK’ moniker. Not much is known about the degree of his involvement, but one thing that’s for sure, is that his heavily involved in the production. With his latest assisted released coming in the form of this banger:



If you follow the blog you would’ve clocked the ‘SOULSCAPE’IN THE STREETS’ mix series I did earlier this year. Taking UK Drills acapellas, and mashin’ em up with some soulsoaked, bass heavy beats to create the 1/1 dubs that made up the selections. Since then I thought about following up the 4 part series with a part 5 and decided that, seeing as it’s been a whole 10 months since i dropped the first one, in the new year – and on the 1st year anniversary – it would be fitting to follow up the mix then.

So, in the mean time, you can check out couple WATSON ROSE ROUGH CUTS from the archive featuring Harlem Spartans and Morrison, plus the original SOULSCAPE’IN THE STREETS SERIES BELOW. Sit back, and soak up the rose tinted sound of the streets…







The UK Drill phenomenon that’s risen to notoriety over the latter half of the last decade has garnered mass media attention for the violent content of the music; spawned countless rap careers and informed the artistic direction of a generation of young rapper; and at the tail of the decade given birth to the potential for a new wave in a way that no one could’ve ever predicted.

In the April 2019 Twitter and Instagram were illuminated with another viral frenzy. The type that usually comes and goes doing little to provoke much thought, but this one in particular – on top of being both shocking and hilarious in equal measures – to me at least, was signalling a potential shift in what was already a shocking phenomenon in itself. 

This was the video in question. This absolutely mental video showing a trio of mask clad road yutes sprayin’ bars about all manors of highly graphic gay sexual encounters was making noise on the net earlier this year, and rightfully so. I mean, to convert the phrase “duck man down” to  “Dick man down” in some ways was pure genius. They took the shocking and aggressive nature of Drill and turned it on it’s head in a way that just seemed to fit so perfectly, a fact that didn’t go unnoticed by some. What had started as a throwaway viral video, had marinated in the minds of some of the people it reached who thought they’d take this concept a step further.

What followed was a masked up, grey tracksuit wearing, car bonnet twerking collective by name of the ‘Sassy Savages’. Unlike the original video, there was something strikingly less parody about the Sassy Savages – could be the way too well rehearsed batty shaking that gives that impression, I’m not quite sure. The video ended up being taken down shortly afterwards and all social media disappeared for mysterious reasons. Subsequently the song didn’t pick up the traction it really deserved, but irrespective of that, the Sassy Savages can still take some credit – in some regards – for pushing the realms of Gay rap in the UK.

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Now, although Gay rap isn’t a completely new thing it comes across strongly that the realms of  Gay Rap in general have yet to be fully exploited and the realms of artistic possibilities fully explored, or explored to the degree you’d expect. I guess the concept of the LGBTQ+ sexuality spectrum has had difficulty finding acceptance in mainstream society, sometimes with aggressive resistance making it difficult for something like this to rise as a movement. But with a lot of that beginning to get better, there are some artists coming up overseas.  One of the few – widely considered to be the first ever gay drill rapper – Kidd Kenn – who hails from Chicago – has been doing his thing for a couple years now, bringing the sassy savage sonics to the playing field and even coining the term itself. So I guess he can take the title of originator for this brand of violently homosexual music. 


Here in the UK on the other hand, things in the burgeoning world of Gay Drill are a little different. The Sassy Savages had only released 1 song and disappeared, which really should’ve signaled the end of this experimentation, but the position as the UK’s number 1 Gay Drill MC was quickly filled in (no pun intended) by West Midlands rapper ‘Blowski Don’ or “Your Dads Favourite Driller” as he likes to proudly proclaim.

After making his entrance into the Rap Sphere via a UK Drill sub-reddit, Blowski garnered a humble buzz from his inaugaral track ‘Chris Tucker’ which lead to an Instagram post of a clip of the tune on ImJustBait gaining 150,000 views. This put his name out there, but with only one song – and ImJustBait audience not being the best to spark the wave – not much more came after his follow up track ‘B L O W S K I’ – which comically opens with the unforgettable line “I love a man in uniform, but not a fed”. Both of his available tunes are actually solid in terms of his rap skill. If you take away the stuff about gettin head off turkish dons and three ways with pete and kenny, his tunes on a lyrical level genuinely stand up against the roster rap talent bringin the heat to the streets today. The bars and flows are all on point with, the shock factor of the occasional gay reference slappin you in the face every few bars in ‘Chris Tucker’ only enhancing the experience, to the point where you listen to his second release and his masterful restraint leaves you actually wanting more of the Gay bars despite not actually being gay – a testament to the power and potential of the sound.

Unfortunately though, with not much being known about the Sassy Savages after everything was taken down and Blowski Don’s questionable legitimacy as a Gay-Gun-Toting-Roadman, as far as our home shores are concerned this sound still firmly remains in the realms of parody here in the UK. Although the likes of Rawzilla – a gay Grime MC from Birmingham who even sent for JayKae earlier this decade – have made some noise. Along with Karnage Kills, a gay (female presenting) rapper who’s been around for a couple of years now – even making an appearance at the Pussy Palace X Boiler Room. What they seem to have in legitimacy, they severely lack in ability compared to the far superior musical stylings of man like Blowski Don. You can’t knock the hustle or take away their pioneer status, but the reality is for this to work,  fundamentally, the music has to bang. 

With the LGBTQ+ movement rising in notoriety, it seems fitting that the taboos that would’ve prevented this from happening in the past are progressively becoming less prevalent. So like all scenes with more people feeling empowered to make this music, the standard will increase in correlation with the participation. So with that said, although it’s unlikely Gay Rap will take over the mainstream, the cult come up seems inevitable. The only question now is who will be the one to spearhead the new movement moving into the new decade?



UK Drill and The army of artists, their antics, turbulent lives and the tragedies that come as a cost have kept the scene in hot debate since it’s conception in the second quarter of this decade. The untimely demise of Kennington rapper and Harlem OG Bis last week – along with the countless other Drill rappers killed over the years stands to highlight it’s stark contrast to the Grime scene that preceded it. In the 15+ years since what we now know as Grime hit the pirate radio airwaves back in the early noughties, we only really lost one MC to the streets – Escobar – and one MC to the jailhouse – Crazy Titch – compared to the staggering number of drillers who’re dead or in jail today.



The  internet has had a bitter-sweet affect on the world around us. It’s given everyone the opportunity to be heard, empowering a whole generation and the UK Drill phenomenon is a clear example of the treacle down affect. Despite what the Daily Mail will lead you to believe, knife crime was equally as bad, if not worse in the the last decade with the London murder rate at a high of 204 in 2003 compared to 131 deaths last year. So considering there’s not actually more people stabbing each other, it would seem that – in correlation with the growth of social media and the internet – significantly more members of the gang affiliated, drug dealing, cunch trippin, ultra violent inner city youth who make up the statistics for violent crime must be making music about it accounting for the amount of fatalities among the artists in UK Drill compared to previous movements.

Similarly the countless deaths are as  prevalent as the countless prison sentences being dished out among the leading Drill rappers reinforcing the shift in the cultural landscape. 67 members LD and ASAP both got slapped with 4 and a half years each after getting bagged in country, along with SJ of the Broadwater Farm collective OFB getting lifed off for a murder case last week. Still managing to make a cameo in the video for the single ‘Once In a While’, once again, thanks to the internet.

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s/o SJ and the rest of the UK rappers on lockdown – bang your doors

With half the rising talent getting birded off or killed in the field of late, there’s been a distinctly dark cloud hanging over what seemed to be the most globally infectious sound to come out of the country. Fortunately though, where the scene has become almost exclusively notable for criminality and not for the music, there’s one rapper in particular who’s talent level is so advanced that any debate or discussion around his county line credentials or legitimacy as a gunman must come secondary to discussions regarding his striking ability.

Enter Teeway, hailing from Norword – South London, who’s punchlines and percussive vocal style has been a breathe of fresh air and given the Drill scene – on a lyrical level – a much needed injection of artistry and innovation

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“They was on school trips skiing, when my 10-10 was in human beings…”

– Teeway (Anglo Saxon 2018)

I’ve had Teeway on rinse for the last couple months with the replay value from his addictive wordplay being unrivaled among his peers. Bars like “we took the ride no talking, silent power, Stephen Hawkin”… outline his maverick quality. When you take him in it’s impossible to ignore the metaphors, the rapid rhyming patterns, the punchlines and the floating yet furious flows that glide across his flawless beat selections. It’s been a longtime since someone had this degree of consistency and it was reassuring that although the Drill scene has been saturated with a lot of the same old splash, ching and ten toes talk, there’s someone out there bucking the trend, swerving all the cliches and resetting the levels.

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“Hit OT with pack of the rock and made my ting pop like jack in the box…”

– Teeway (Honda Civ, 2019)

Teeway’s available catalogue is limited to only a handful of releases, but in his short career so far he’s bagged a slot on the TopBoy soundtrack, dropped his inaugural freestyle for Mixtape Madness and followed up with his recent BBC Radio 1Xtra appearance with Kenny Allstars given him a solid co-sign to take into the new year. Little is known about the South London rapper as it stands as his swift ascent over the last 6 months has passed a lot of people by, but closing the year off with yet another solid release strongly suggests that if he can stay out of trouble, the likes of J Hus, Dave and the rest of our top flight and highly skilled rappers will have another General sitting at the table in the not too distant future.

Teeway comes into the fold at a time when the Drill sound has evolved and changed quite a bit since the likes of 150, 67 and the roster of original Drillers touched YouTube back in the first quarter of the decade. “The Drill scene’s changed. The beats are different to the ones we was rapping on in 2016… and the way people rap. I think it’s faster. Same greaze, just different flows…”. An opinion reflected by the Harlem Spartan OG Blanco in his recent interview with Tim Westwood.

The slower paced ad lib style associated with the original dons is significantly less popular today, with the fast rapid-fire style more commonly associated with Grime MC’s  taking precedent. Personally, I’m partial to the slower style, but with not much happening in Grime outside of Wiley and Dot Rotten seemingly determined to clash absolutely everyone, the change in direction within the Drill scene along with MC’s like Teeway’s contributions to raising the bar may bridge the gap between the two worlds and yield some interesting results in the new year. But I guess we’ll have to wait and see…

To be continued…