It felt special when Drake kept posting pictures of grime MCs on his Instagram. And it was pretty iconic when Kanye brought a selection of the scene up on stage for his Brits performance. But now, so many massive US artists are rushing to co-sign the new grime explosion, it’s hard to tell whether it’s getting more or less exciting. I reckon we can keep calling it more exciting, until the day Taylor Swift calls Chip to the stage so he can spit “The End” while she mimes acoustic guitar.
The latest came last night as Pharrell invited Skepta on as a special guest for his OTHERtone show on Beats 1. And his presence informed the entire second part of the show, as proceedings opened with “I Luv U” by Dizzee, before drifting into Roll Deep’s ‘When I’m Ere”, and then a hectic mini-mix of JME’s “Man Don’t Care”, D Double's “Streetfighter Riddim” and obviously “Functions on the Low”. Not the troika of bangers you expect to finish with the sound of Pharrell’s soft and angelic telephone voice crooning the words, “We still in the UK, chilling.”Pharrell and his co-presenters gently mined Skepta for stories and influences, resulting in a deep and inspiring chat about music as therapy, the passing of Lukey Maxwell, having a plan in life, meeting Wiley, run ins with the police (who Skepta says confiscated all his records once), and some unheard stories about the impact of Snoop’s Doggystyle on a baby-faced Joseph Adenuga. He also plays some “music that his friends don’t know he listens to”, and drops a heavy freestyle over Travis Scott’s “Flying High”.If you've listened to OTHERtone over the last few months, you'll know that it's got an unmistakable knack for creating that special languid and hypnotic Sunday radio atmosphere but with shit hot contemporary artists - a highlight being when guest Tyler the Creator went on a whim for 20 minutes just digging through old rare Kanye cuts. Last night's show with North London's grime don was equally special. Skepta interviews just don't usually get this personal and open, so it's two hours of absolutely essential listening for all fans. Listen to the whole show here, and listen to his Travis Scott freestyle below.