It’s grime up north ... Scots stars of the urban music scene are taking the world by Stormzy
YOUR mum might think it’s something undesirable found under your fingernails – but Scotland is experiencing a golden age of grime.
Young Scots performers are attracting millions of views on YouTube, and artists rapping in broad Scots accents are now the toast of the urban dance music scene.
Grime – a fusion of garage, hip hop and jungle – first came out of London in the early 2000s, and while Scottish grime crews such as Levels Syndicate have existed for just over a decade, promoters and record label owners say the scene in Scotland is going through a resurgence and are predicting big things for artists from north of the Border. The biggest grime star today is Stormzy, now a global star.
Leading the charge are MCs like 20-year-old Shogun, whose cult hit Vulcan in which he raps with impressive lyrical dexterity about his difficult Paisley upbringing, has clocked up almost three million views since it was posted in July. Meanwhile, upand-coming young DJ/producer duo Rapture 4D and Polonis have been tipped by taste-makers including Radio 1Xtra and online radio stations Radar Radio and Beats 1.
Other Scottish grime artists making waves using their own accents and local slang – and clocking up tens of thousands of hits – include Poczy and Oakzy B as well as Chrissy Grimez and Skola. Raps feature plenty of Glasgow patter and include references to the city’s tower blocks, sectarianism, class and “s***e weather”.
Josh Casey, of the J-Bone Collective which represents Rapture 4D and runs one-off grime nights across the city, said: “It’s been a crazy couple of years but the growth has been enormous.” He set up Glasgow-based J-Bone in mid-2015 in response to a growing demand for grime gigs. Planned events this month include London rappers Fekky at Glasgow venue SWG3 and AJ Tracey at the Sub Club, also in Glasgow.
“Glasgow is a musical city so once the crowd gets a bit more consistent it’ll just grow and grow,” he added. “The progress in the past two years has been massive and the future is really exciting.”
Gallus One, a founder of Levels Syndicate, a music collective set-up in 2006 that now runs independent label Tuigse, said despite a “slow burn” Scottish grime had taken hold. He claims that the growth of the DIY scene – allowing artists to develop an online fan base through YouTube and release music via independent labels rather than wait to be picked up by major labels – is a big factor in the boom in grime.
“In the last 18 months or so interest has really been building up and now we’re at a place where it feels like we’ve got people’s ear,” he added. Kip Cozy of Twelve 50 TV, a flagship Scottish YouTube grime channel with over 12,000 subscribers and 3.5 million views, said although grime had been around in Scotland for a while, in the last year interest had really taken hold with Zesh, Poczy, Shogun and Oakzy B gaining the most traction.
Raps feature plenty of Glasgow patter and include references to the city’s tower blocks, sectarianism and class
The producer said: “People want to see what Scotland has to offer in terms of this culture. What makes it different is the accents are different to anywhere else – they are very lyrically skilled and manage to use their own slang from their own areas and tell a story. These guys all have fans young and old that look up to them, want to hear their story and have had views in hundreds of thousands and millions together, from all over the world.”
Joe Heron – aka Shogun – told the Sunday Herald: “I’ve only been making music for a couple of years but I’ve always written – poetry, short stories, stand-up comedy. I think grime is now being taken more seriously in Scotland – certainly my own music is, along with some others. I’m just going to keep doing what I do.”
Above, MC Shogun from Paisley enjoyed a hit with song Vulcan while duo Rapture 4D and Polonis, left, are making waves on Radio 1Xtra
Superstar Stormzy is the UK’s leading light of the grime scene