In this week’s Rap Rundown, we’ve got the launch of Wiley’s autobiographical Eskiboy book, Yxng Bane’s headline show at Omeara and the announcement of Krept & Konan’s PD Foundation.
As grime continues to progress on an upward trajectory, emerging into the mainstream as one of the UK’s most influential and commercially appealing genres, it’s important for the scene’s new fans to be made aware of its revolutionary conception. And, after more than 15 years since the beginning of the musical movement, nothing personifies the struggle and eventual success of grime better than Richard Kylea Cowie, AKA Wiley. Eskiboy, the Godfather of grime’s official autobiography, documents Wiley’s story – which has run parallel to the story of grime – covering friendships, rivalries, tragedy and triumph, and explores the unique ideas behind what has been described as the most revolutionary musical movement in Britain since punk.
To celebrate the book’s release, Wiley hosted a launch party in the basement of The London EDITION hotel and was joined by the likes of Riz Ahmed, Lethal Bizzle, JME, Frisco, Shorty, Jamal Edwards, J2K, Sian Anderson, Logan Sama and more. When I arrived at the launch on Thursday, Wiley was welcoming the various music industry and media VIPs. It didn’t feel even slightly similar to the grime events that I’m used to. However, a couple of hours later, after the guests had necked a few complimentary gin cocktails, it developed into exactly what you could have predicted: a DJ set from Wiley’s fellow grime pioneer, Logan Sama, and a cypher from some of his Boy Better Know colleagues. Then, rather than being in a sophisticated central London hotel, it felt like we had been transported to one of the city’s various basement venues which has played host to the more familiar grime shows. This suggested to me that despite its commercial progress and the attention it’s drawing from the mainstream media, grime has maintained its authenticity and remains the same ground-breaking genre. This has been made possible by artists like Wiley, whose excursion through the music industry – which has included accomplishment as well as a number of hiccups – has paved the way for today’s UK rappers. To view this story through the eyes of the Godfather of grime himself, grab your copy of the book here.
Last week I also went down to Yxng Bane’s sold out London headline show. In the same week that his collaboration with Yungen was certified gold, Bane took to the stage at Omeara and was joined by Abra Cadabra, Yungen, K Trap, Haile and, coincidently, Wiley, who had come down to show support for the new generation the day after the release of his book.
Bane’s stage presence and ability to command the crowd came as a surprise to me. He’s become a bit of an infatuation for the mainstream with his anthemic melodious tracks and is clearly popular with the new generation of UK rap fans, but, at the end of the day, he’s still relatively new to the scene. This was not reflected in his performance. He emerged on stage with the authority of a seasoned professional and from that moment onwards had complete control of the almost frenzied audience as he performed a catalogue of crowd-pleasers including ‘Rihanna’, ‘Fine Wine’ and ‘Bestie’. I say ‘catalogue’ because it genuinely felt like he was performing hits from an acclaimed album, not just a few singles that have been released over the past couple of years. If you had never heard of or seen Yxng Bane perform before, the energy of the crowd, combined with his infectious music would definitely have you jumping on the bandwagon - even if only for the night.
In the wake of their anticipated ‘7 Days’ and ‘7 Nights’ release and after what was said to be a year of dedication and patience, Krept & Konan last week announced the launch of their Positive Direction [PD] Foundation – an organisation with which the south London rap duo will be ‘taking kids off the streets after school and teaching them and giving them opportunities we never had’.
The project will begin on Monday November 6 at Krept’s secondary school, Harris Academy, South Norwood, offering activities including music production, engineering and songwriting workshops, designed to educate, inform and inspire London’s young minds. Explaining the ideas behind the charity, Konan said ‘We set up the Positive Direction (PD) foundation for the youth and it’s based entirely on our own experiences as young, working class kids growing up in South London’.
Looking at the talent within the UK’s music scene, whether it’s in songwriting and performing or production and engineering, the potential of its young people is undeniable but what we lack, as a society, is opportunity. So, to see Krept and Konan striving to create those opportunities is inspiring and is a positive reflection of the supportive ethos of the UK rap scene.
Words: Patrick Fennelly
Online Edit: Ra'ed Khan