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Do It!

UK urban music is in the best state it's been in for a decade. Ten-year-old girls are throwing their Bratz dolls out the window and breakdancing in their wheelie shoes when a bassline tune comes on daytime radio.
Κείμενο Prancehall

Trim and an hilariously named drinking product.

Trim trying not to lose at pool. Photos by Alex Sturrock

UK urban music is in the best state it’s been in for a decade. Ten-year-old girls are throwing their Bratz dolls out the window and breakdancing in their wheelie shoes when a bassline tune comes on daytime radio. This new funky stuff from London is getting A&R micropenises erect (NO HOMO) and Wiley’s made an electro-house song (as shit as that sounds, it’s somehow amazing) that has been signed to Atlantic for a decent amount. Yet I can’t bring myself to say much about it. I guess I’ve always been more interested in the underdog. You could call Trim an underdog. He released two near faultless mixtapes full of endlessly quotable one-liners last year and his latest, Soulfood Vol. 3, is just as good. But the chances are he will never get a record deal. Very few people outside the grime scene will buy his mixtapes or know who he is and he will probably give up making music within the next few years. But that’s how things work. I recently went to the Isle of Dogs to spend a day seeing what Trim does and to get an update on how things are going in that little scene that everyone was a lot keener to hear about five years ago. Here is some stuff I found out.


I bump into Trim outside the ASDA near his flat, as I stumble out to the sound of an alarm with some George dungarees, a packet of Monster Munch and an Innocent smoothie stuffed down my pants. We run to hide down an alleyway behind the car park when a chubby teenager on a moped approaches. He says he used to play basketball with Trim 10 or more years ago. Trim looks at the guy like he has an arse for a face. He does. Trim asks the boy if he can spit and the kid reels off some painfully shit bars as Kate Nash’s “Foundations” plays from a car in the distance. Trim has never heard of her. I inform him she collaborated with Kano. “Oh, is she a remix of the other one?” Lily Allen? “Yeah, the posh one with the fat legs.”


Next, we head to meet some of his friends. We walk past the entrance to the Greenwich foot tunnel, where, he tells me, he used to rob people and then run back towards the Isle of Dogs where he’d be “home free”. I offer Trim one of my Monster Munch but he says he can’t eat because his girlfriend is cooking tonight. She’s a good cook but “sometimes her rice is like a paste,” apparently. We eventually get to his friend’s house. He looks like he hasn’t been outside in about a month and judging by his appearance he won’t be going anywhere today either. It looks like if he blinked hard enough weed smoke would come out of his bulging eyes. Even his dog looks stoned. The whole thing is giving me the fear. Thankfully, within a little while some of Trim’s crew, The Circle, turn up and we stand about outside. Someone mentions Skepta’s new song “King of Grime”, which doesn’t go down too well with Trim. “If he’s the king of grime, then I must be God.”


Trim usually plays football every Friday against some “youngers” from his area, but he says he won’t be able to today. He dislocated his toe running away from the police a little while back. Instead he wants to go to Radioclit’s studio to get some beats for his next mixtape. On the way to their studio Trim tells me about his school days. He went to four schools, including one in prison. He was kicked out of his last school for stealing some charity money. We get to Homerton to find that Radioclit have moved. As we walk back to the car, a group of sour-faced guys come up to Trim. They seem put out that he is in their area. I put my hand under my belt to take a sip of my smoothie and they make a run for it, not before Trim grabs a Kellogg’s reflector off one of their bikes. We head to the correct address on the other side of Hackney—a complex of fancy flats that looks like the location for the backdrop of an 80s action-porn film starring Steven Seagal. Radioclit start going through a selection of new tracks as Trim freestyles on each one. Suddenly a beeping sound comes from his pocket. He pulls out two phones held together by an elastic band. It’s a text asking if he wants to buy a dog. He laughs and carries on where he left off.


After a while, Radioclit’s Johan suggests a quick game of pool on the table in the studio. Trim boasts how good he is—he played every day when he was in prison. He beats Johan from Radioclit with five balls remaining. He challenges me to a match, expecting to do the same. I almost seven-ball him. It’s like Ronnie O’Sullivan versus Ronnie Corbett. He insists on two more games, in one of which he scrapes a win. But by now it’s pretty late and time for us to part ways. Trim skulks off into the night already two hours late for his mushy rice, clutching his rooster-shaped reflector, which glistens in the moonlight. The end.