If you don’t already know, an older man – since dubbed ‘Grime Grandad’ – was filmed on Carnaby Street in London in the afternoon, spitting Stormzy’s bars from “Shut Up” like some sort of elder roadman busker. In the post #DrummondPuddleWatch world this isn’t just a casual tweet, this isn’t just a trend, this is news.
Instagram videos started popping up of Grime Grandad – decked out in a shimmering blue shirt and taxi driver’s leather jacket with sunnies perched on a fluffy (pretty full) head of white hair – dropping his rather unique slow burning flow over that classic “Functions on the Low” instrumental. Complex tweeted about it, garnering nearly five thousand retweets. And since most of the videos dated to only nineteen minutes ago, I decided to head down to Carnaby Street to seek out the gravel voiced street bard of Westminster.
This guy!!!!! pic.twitter.com/EH0ooVdkFb— Junior Foster (@UncleJuJu) January 13, 2016
And so I found myself treading the gilded stones of London’s Greatest Fashion Street (a place where Liam Gallagher’s clothing line assimilates into tourists wearing funny coloured shoes) notepad in hand, without a dictaphone and a iPhone with 15% battery. Five minutes later I found myself in the clothes store Super Trash, talking to a shop assistant who had watched the infamous Grime Grandad with her own eyes.
“He had a speaker and a stand with the lyrics written on,” she said, “and a microphone connected to the speaker. There were maybe 30 or 40 people watching. Loads of them were filming. When he finished I noticed people came up and helped him pick up the stuff,” she concluded. “Oh, and he was wearing a massive fake diamond ring on his finger.”
“He also sang 50 Cent.” This latter point was made by a guy who worked in the “iconic canvas pumps” outlet, El Ganso, next door, but he was sadly too shy to sing what 50 Cent track it was. After some intrepid questioning it became clear it was indeed Fiddy’s signature smash “In Da Club”. I’d misjudged Grime Grandad – he had a taste in rap that spanned decades. Who the hell is he? Do you know this dude?
One minute later my now-at-5% phone buzzed with an email from someone who worked at a charity with an office on Carnaby Street who had filmed one of the videos earlier. He confirmed Grime Grandad’s eleven minute mega medley setlist:
Skepta - “That’s Not Me”
Stormzy - “Shut Up”
50 Cent - “In Da Club”
Unbelievable, right? No. Unfortunately, just incase that strong stench of potential bullshit wasn’t wafting hard enough after hearing that he was wearing a fake diamond ring, the source from charity office confirmed that Grime Grandad had been filmed by two professional cameraman, and thus the mystery of his existence was solved. The guy was a damn stooge! A narc! Probably for some branded content that will be hitting your Facebook feeds and YouTube pre rolls in the near future. Maybe there are some grime loving grandads out there, but one willing to busk on Carnaby Street (without even so much as a hat to collect his pennies) was too good to be true.
I felt robbed. Is this our future? All-too-brief moments of light brand-led entertainment that have been given the go-ahead by five men in a room gesturing at a large notepad? Heartwarming yet essentially fake scenes that have been engineered for the RTs? Everywhere we turn, our own little Truman Show enacting itself for likes and faves. I don’t know, I don’t want to think about it. Anyway, that’s my report. Hope you’re reading, mum?
You can follow David Hillier on Twitter.