Even by his own frenetic standards, Kanye West’s recent time in London has been prolific. He’s been jumping on tables at Nando’s, giving out trainers in Soho and having a bit of a cry with Zane Lowe. But the most important aspect of Kanye’s springtime sojourn in London has been his desire to shove London’s grime scene into the spotlight.
Both at the Brit Awards and at a last-minute Kanye West gig at Koko last week, Ye shared the stage with some of the recently revitalised sound’s biggest and brightest talents. Here’s who’s who in London grime right now, and where you can catch them spitting bars in the coming months.
He’s the man who got the call from Kanye an hour before the Brits and made it all happen – it’s Skepta. Despite a decade in the game, the founder of grime collective Boy Better Know has undergone a well-deserved elevation in the last year, from underground hero to pop culture icon, with scene anthems like ‘Too Many Man’, ‘Duppy’ and 2014’s huge ‘That’s Not Me’ behind him. He was reportedly in the studio with Kanye last week, and with a fourth album, ‘Konniciwa’, on the horizon, it’s already starting to feel like 2015 belongs to Skepta.
See Skepta live at Deviation at XOYO on April 4.
Breaking ground for both the old and new wave of grime, Stormzy’s rise to the summit has been as impressive as it has been rapid. In the nine months since releasing his debut EP, ‘Dreamers Disease’, in July last year, the 21-year-old south Londoner has already won a Mobo Award, become the first unsigned rapper to appear on Jools Holland and been named in the BBC Sound of 2015 list.
See Stormzy live at O2 Academy Islington on March 31.
Although they’re sonically closer to bass-driven hip hop than anything else, this south London duo’s do-it-yourself rise to the top has been pure grime. With zero outside assistance, Krept & Konan built up millions of YouTube views for their bootleg versions of Jay Z and Drake tracks in 2011, before breaking the Top 20 with their unsigned 2013 mixtape ‘Young Kingz’. A major label deal with Virgin EMI followed, as did a Mobo in 2014 and a BET award in the US.
See Krept & Konan live at Wireless Festival in July.
A core member of Boy Better Know alongside Skepta and JME, Jammer is one of the grime originals who helped build the scene. Hailing from east London, the one-time Nasty Crew member released a solo album for Ninja Tune subsidiary Big Dada in 2010 and is the man behind Lord of the Mics – the ever-essential grime rap battle competition and DVD series.
Catch Jammer at the Big Jam Street Party in Maidstone on April 5.
The youngest man on stage with Kanye at Koko, Novelist has only just turned 18 – he celebrated with a warehouse rave-up at Hackney’s Shapes venue – but already has the grime world up on its feet. Alongside Stormzy, the Lewisham boy is helping ensure that the current grime revival isn’t purely based around producers and instrumentals. Novelist’s razor-sharp bars have already earned him a Mobo nomination and a contract with XL Recordings, while his crew The Square are starting to make just as much noise as him.
Read our Novelist interview
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