Bruva, Where Art Thou: Big Narstie
Famously known for his comedic bars and individual flow, which has been replicated tenfold since he first stepped foot in the scene, Big Narstie is back after a hiatus with his brand new mixtape, 'PAINOVERLOAD'. Although once a staple in the scene, with his face appearing everywhere from 'Lord Of The Mics 2' to Channel U (now Channel AKA), Big Narstie has been missing in action for some time...
"Yeah, I was away from the scene for a bit. My personal life kinda got in the way," Big Narstie explained. "Also, I was quite frustrated as well because I felt the UK just couldn’t handle urban music anymore." This comment is more than likely a response to how PR companies and record labels would mishandle their grime artists before the days of it being commercialised. MCs would often receive little or no PR for their releases, as the labels didn’t always see grime as a sound investment.
With this in mind, I wondered what Big Narstie’s outlook on the scene was today. "Being back in the scene," he laughs, "it’s quite funny, still. It’s thriving with talent and I’m also seeing much more outlets for our music, but the sad thing is a lot of the pioneers from our scene have turned to house or cheesy music to get into the mainstream."
Although this horse has been flogged to death (often by myself), it’s still a touchy subject for some of the more devoted grime artists like Big Narstie. His label, Dice Recordings, has always dealt strictly with grime or hip-hop. Dance, house and pop music has never been on the agenda. The biggest problem for many diehard grime artists and fans is that some of the key players of the scene have failed to use their influence on the mainstream to connect them with real grime.
"I think Tinchy Stryder, Dizzee Rascal and Chipmunk are at good positions where they could make grime music respected and noticed, but they’re not doing it," Big Narstie explains. "With great power comes great responsibility. Imagine if Oasis stopped making indie and did grime! People are using grime as a foot stool and then they jump ship. It’s really sad."
With his newly-released mixtape, 'PAINOVERLOAD', receiving love from fans and critics alike, Big Narstie has proven that MCs of yesteryear still have what it takes to last in today’s evolving grime scene. "'PAINOVERLOAD' is mostly grime, but with hip-hop sections here and there. The uplifting message in it is the word of the common man, 'What doesn’t break you makes you stronger.' It’s also very, very gassed (laughs)."
Known for his concept tunes, the idea of growing through the pain that life brings is one he used throughout this mixtape. "All artists go through pain and a lot of them are either too scared or uncomfortable to talk about it (laughs). Pain overload!" The south Londoner also felt that it was time to bring back some names from the glory days of Channel U on his new offering. "I’ve got Dexplicit, P Jam, Steelo, N.A.A., Ripperman and Wayne McNiesh on there," he says with excitement. "It’s a weird collection of producers and artists. I just really hope people get to know me from this mixtape and are also motivated to change the negatives in their lives."
Big Narstie’s new mixtape, 'PAINOVERLOAD', is out now.
Stay up to date with Big Narstie on Twitter – www.twitter.com/BigNarstie
Words: Jake Hanrahan (@OiJake)
Photography: Verena Stefanie Grotto (@KidsOfGrime)
Online editing: Joseph 'JP' Patterson (@Jpizzledizzle)