Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Dart Adams presents UK True Grime: An American Hip Hop Head's Guide to UKG/Grime

I've always had an affinity for music out of the UK for as long as I can remember. Most of us kids in the inner city grew up on British synth pop and we remember when the first wave of UK Hip Hop/R&B hit our shores from the other side of the Atlantic in the form of Loose Ends, Five Star and later with Mica Paris and Soul II Soul. As I grew older, I started getting into Massive Attack, Tricky, Roni Size & Reprazent (Krust), Portishead and some other groups from Bristol along with Rae & Christian and a gang of others.

In the late 90's I also started to gravitate towards Drum N' Bass/Jungle instrumentals and tracks from heads like Dillinja, Lemon D, Goldie, Doc Scott, Adam F and the rest of the collective that called themselves Metalheadz. Eventually, I stumbled across UKG or UK Garage as it was called so we record store assholes didn't confuse it with the House music that was referred to as Garage in the States. Whereas the music I preferred was dark and heavy, the UKG scene seemed to be full of uptempo, dancy type joints. I hated it. Girls loved it. I love girls therefore I tolerated it.

The music across the Atlantic seemed to reflect ours at the time as it was around 1999/2000. The economy was booming, records were flying off of the shelves and we were deeply entrenched in the Jiggy Era. Motherfuckers wanted to party like it was 1999 (cuz it was!). One of those UKG anthems of 1999/2000 was created by the production duo Artful Dodger and it featured Craig David. I hated it with the red hot intensity of a thousand suns:

Re-Rewind (When The Crowd Say Bo Selecta) -Artful Dodger f/Craig David

I thought to myself, what would happen if someone came along and flipped this music into something much darker like the Jungle and Drum N' Bass that pervaded the marketplace? One of my co-workers named Dave Piekoz was a UKG expert and he pointed out that years ago there was an underground record by a group called Active Minds and on the B-side of the 12" was a dark instrumental called "Hobson's Choice". It didn't take off yet but maybe in the future more music would come out like that. Piekoz also called that The Roots "Things Fall Apart" would outsell Eminem's "Slim Shady LP" in the opening week, dude knew his shit!

The next year (2000), I was working at yet another record store and I heard about a group called So Solid Crew. They had a dude named Mega Man as their own personal RZA and had managed to put a chokehold on the UK Garage scene with a revolutionary song called "Dilemma". Next, some of their affiliates named Oxide & Neutrino created a dark track that just blew up overseas and it eventually made it over here called "Bound 4 Da Reload".

(Casualty) Bound 4 Da Reload-Oxide & Neutrino

Before you knew it, So Solid Crew had Wu Tang Clanned their way to the top of the heap and got a record deal. You couldn't open a music magazine without seeing mention of them or a picture of all 144 members of the group. UK Garage would never be the same again:

21 Seconds-So Solid Crew

UKG began to go in a different direction as tracks by the Pay As U Go Cartel featuring a young man called Wiley Kat began making noise on the scene as well. The joint "Know We" was easily my favorite UKG track ever up to that point. Little did I know that the producer of this track would lead a revolution and that he ultimately overtake Mega Man and his crew to forge a new empire in London. More artists and producers began to come to the forefront like Sticky.

Champagne Dance-Pay As U Go Kartel

The So Solid Crew was still on top putting out hot single after hot single but it was clear that they weren't alone on the scene. Wiley dropped a heat rock in 2001 called "I Will Not Lose" with Pay As U Go and it made clear he was a force to reckon with. By the time it hit 2002, the scene had splintered off into two different factions and one group began to expound more on the sound, format and aesthetic set forth by Wiley and a steady crop of young producers like Youngstar, Danny Weed, Jon E Cash and Alias. This was the birth of what we now call Grime.

The first artists to make serious noise across the pond were The Streets, Dizzee Rascal and Wiley. I'll do a follow up blog about the early days when the international music press first got a hold of Grime back in the days soon. Check out this thread for more early Grime information, instrumentals and key releases in the interim. To get up to date info on what's happening across the Atlantic in the world of Grime check here periodically. For more information visit Grimepedia or frequent the following blogs:

Smug Police

Early influential UKG/Grime tracks:
Dilemma-So Solid Crew (2000)
Casualty (Bound 4 Da Reload)-Oxide & Nuetrino (2000)
Oh No (Sentimental Things)-So Solid Crew (2000)
Know We-Pay As U Go Cartel (2000)
Ride Wid Us/21 Seconds/Envy (f/Ms. Dynamite)- So Solid Crew (2001)
I Will Not Lose-Wiley (PAUG) (2001)
Eskimo-Wiley (2001)
Booo!-Sticky f/Ms. Dynamite (2001)
Triplets 1, 2 & 3-Sticky (2001)
Has It Come To This-The Streets (2001/2)
Oi!-More Fire Crew (2001/2)
Stomp-Bigshot (2002)
Hungry Tiger-Mos Wanted (2002)
Jaws-Fyrus (2002)
Creeper-Danny Weed (2002)
Pulse X-Musical Mob (Youngstar) (2002)
Heartless Theme (Superglue Riddim)-Heartless Crew (2002)
Champagne Dance-Pay As U Go Cartel (2002)
Don't Mug Yourself/Let's Push Things Forward/Weak Become Heroes-The Streets (2002)
I Luv U-Dizzee Rascal (2002/3)
Go-Dizzee Rascal (2002/3)
Back Then-More Fire Crew (2002/3)
Invasion-Jon E Cash (2003)
We're Ready-East Connection (2003)
Boys Love Girls-Kano (2003)
Fix Up, Look Sharp/Jus A Rascal-Dizzee Rascal (2003)
Ice Rink/Ground Zero/Igloo/Blizzard/Shangai-Wiley (2003)
Bang Bang-Wiley (2003)
I Can See You-Terrah Danjah (2003)
Eyes On You-Davinche (2003)
D.T.I. (Pirate Station Anthem)-Skepta (2003)
Gladiator-Alias (2003)
Invasion VIP-Jon E Cash (2003/4)
Gladiator 2-Alias (2004)
I Can C U-Crazy Titch (2004)
Frontline-D Double E (2004)
Wot U Call It ?-Wiley (2004)
Poppadoms-Riko (2004)
Bounce-Donaeo (2004)
What-Wonder (2004)
Forward Riddim (Pow)-Lethal Bizzle (2004)
P's & Q's-Kano (2004)
Creepy Crawler-Terrah Danjah (2004)
Mucktion-Skepta (2004)
One Wish-Shystie (2004)
Tingz In Boots-Ruff Sqwad (2004)
Warriors-Alias (2005)
Sing Along-Crazy Titch (2005)
Private Caller-Skepta (2005)

Early UKG/Grime Albums/Mixtapes:
They Don't Know-So Solid Crew (2001)
Original Pirate Material-The Streets (2002)
Boy In Da Corner-Dizzee Rascal (2003)
2nd Verse-So Solid Crew (2003)
The Sagas Of..-Klashnekoff (2004)
Treddin' On Thin Ice-Wiley (2004)
A Grand Don't Come For Free-The Streets (2004)
Showtime-Dizzee Rascal (2004)
Diamond In The Dirt-Shystie (2004)
Against All Odds-Lethal Bizzle (2005)
In At The Deep End-Roll Deep (2005)
Home Sweet Home-Kano (2005)
Run The Road Vol. 1 (2005)
Guns & Roses Vol. 1-Ruff Sqwad (2005)
Vertically Challenged-Lady Sovereign (2005)
Run The Road Vol. 2 (2006)
Guns & Roses Vol. 2-Ruff Sqwad (2006)



Berto said...

I just got put on to Dizzee Rascal recently, and I like some of his stuff, but I haven't really been introduced to any grime artists besides him (though my brother is CRAZY about Roots Manuva). Will check these other guys out.

Dart Adams said...

@ berto:

The next part I focus more on the music now and how Grime is it's own separate form of music that doesn't follow in Rap or Hip Hop's footsteps. It's aesthetic is quite British and that makes it hard for most Americans to get into (accent, slang, references, cadences, tempo and flows).


Fantana said...

Shouts from the UK!

Grime over here seems to divide opinion - some love it, some hate it - some include it as part of the hip-hop scene, some as a different entity altogether.

Check for Ghetto's Freedom of Speech for some dope stuff.