THIS IS GRIME – Stormzy, JME & Novelist in Conversation
We headed down to Rough Trade East last night for a panel of your less-than-usual suspects...
‘Krept & Konan just won a MOBO, I’m going studio.’ – Stormzy.
We headed down to Rough Trade East last night for a panel discussion to launch new book by Hattie Collins and Olivia Rose – This Is Grime. The panelists were not your usual suspects, headed up by Novelist posing questions to none other than Stormzy, JME and Logan Sama.
Novelist kicked off with questioning grime old timer JME on his personal grime story. JME spoke about his and brother Skepta’s childhoods and how the culmination of his mother’s constant playing of songs and his father’s IT skills (he built them a computer) set them up to be the major grime influences they are today.
One theme that ran through all of the stories was how technology at the time was used to create the music and also spread the word. JME recalls using the school internet to download samples onto a floppy disc to take home and make beats in the front room with Skepta. Without platforms like Twitter around self promotion really did start at home, JME built up his reputation way back in the school yard by wearing a Nike jacket with JME Mic Controller stitched on the back.
For Logan Sama internet forums and pirate radio were a massive part of his intro to the scene, he recollected on the police raiding stations and pulling down their rigs so they were constantly moving location to keep the broadcast alive. This is represented in Skepta’s 2009 video DTI....
Stormzy was there representing the South London grime scene and they all reminisce about how back in the day any idols or inspiration were artists from your borough as tracks were traded from Nokia to Nokia via Bluetooth, there was no wide distribution.
Stormzy spoke on how the rise of the internet made a big impact on the scene with YouTube and platforms like Channel You putting faces to what had only been voices on tracks before. In 2013 Stormzy was working in Southampton on an oil refinery when he began to realise that spitting beats could really get you somewhere. Seeing Krept and Konan win a MOBO was the tipping point to drive him to pursue music and he reflects on the exact moment where he tweeted ‘Krept & Konan just won a Mobo, I’m going studio’.
This sparked Logan Sama to go back to the roots of grime and dicuss how through celebrating the achievements of people from local areas and the UK as a whole inspires others to apply themselves and try their best. There was a clear sense of unanimity between all of the panelists and it was inspirational and refreshing to hear how important it is to them to be encouraging to each other and young people in general to work hard to pursue their dreams and not tear each other down on the way up as every artist’s path is different.
When asked about advice for young people wanting to enter the scene Novelist answered with ‘make the music number one, it is the sound that will give you longevity’. Stormzy used PSY’s 'Gangnam Style' as an example of taking everyone’s opinions with a pinch of salt – if Psy would have played him that beat he would have said ‘bruv you can’t release that’ but yet it ended up being a worldwide success.
Stormzy went on to say that the music, arts and creative industry is a ‘mad world with no blueprint or rules’ so if you believe in something – it’s worth giving it a try. BBK member JME rounded up the session with some wise words… ‘Enjoy it, if you enjoy it and no one likes it, everyone dies and you enjoyed it. If you don’t enjoy it and everyone likes it, doesn’t matter, you didn’t enjoy it’.
Each of the panelists spoke eloquently and passionately and in a society of celebrity culture it was refreshing to have home grown talent speaking so intently about the music and how to them grime is more than a passion, it’s a way of life.
The evening wouldn’t have been complete without having the mandem jump on the mic and show us how it’s done. Logan took to the decks kicking things off with Skepta’s 'Man' before JME began to spit some beats. Novelist then joined the stage with an energetic performance of '1 Sec' which had everyone on their feet. After another 15 minutes of it going off Stormzy eventually joined them for an extremely special performance with them all on the mics ending the night on an almighty high.
By Roberta Hickey