Photo: Left, video still from "WAZE"; Right, 'Heavy Is The Head' album art
A trio of internet-busting videos dropped last night, signalling war between two of the UK’s choicest top-tier rappers. For those watching, it went like this: Stormzy, the effortlessly charming golden boy of grime, was filmed pulling up outside the home of Chip, another notable and long-serving grime MC. Chip posted the clip, then released two music vids – “Killer MC” and “Flowers” – both of which take direct aim at Stormzy and accuse him of engineering a two-faced image: one in public, one in private.
These are some of the lines:“I know where you live too, but that is not the point of this / Pull up, catch me lackin', plan failed, there's no avoidin' this”“He said use his pen to skeng but now he pullin' up at homes, ooh”“I thought it's Black Lives Matter, what you sayin'? Mine don't? / Let's catch him 'fore he touches mic, why? You know I'm cold”And this is the clip of Stormzy outside what is supposedly Chip’s house:
From wherever you’re standing, Chip delivered several verses heavily trained in Stormzy’s direction. In the visitation clip, since deleted by Chip, we hear Stormzy say, “Tell him to phone me, innit,” before a woman says, “You think you can just pull up to houses? No, I’m not gonna phone you, Stormzy”.On the outset, the fracas seems fairly random, but delve into the past year and a few details emerge that give this moment some meaning.Everything started back in March, when Skepta, Chip and Young Adz released “WAZE”. Chip used his verse to position himself firmly as an elder statesmen of the UK grime scene, rapping, “If three man try link up and do a album, it's not gonna sound like this / Tryna sound like A, tryna like Skep' and the rest tryna sound like Chip / You ain't been platinum, silver or gold, you ain't even been bronze, you div.”Then came the follow-up lyric: “You ain't even done ten years in this ting / Round here we don't hear you're a king, man will take your throne / Piss on your forehead, know your role.”
Factually, the first few bars cannot be directed at Stormzy, as debut album Gang Signs & Prayer went platinum (meaning it sold 1 million units) and its follow-up Heavy Is The Head was awarded gold. In fact, much of Chip’s verse could be seen as classic rap posturing, positioning himself as a long valued player in the scene with plenty of accolades.However, that’s not to say some shots weren’t fired. Stormzy referred to himself as the “king of grime” in a well-publicised spat with Wiley (on the track “Still Disappointed”), meaning Chip’s latter bars about a “king” could apply to him. The artwork for Heavy Is The Head also featured Stormzy wearing a crown, adding fuel to the idea that Chip’s verse could have included subliminal digs.Stormzy then fired back in May, in his verse on Tion Wayne’s “I Dunno”. Here, he raps, “Is he sending for me? I dunno / What them boy there sell first week? I dunno.” The verse attracted attention among fans of both Stormzy and Chip, who kept up with the duo’s earlier spats (in 2015, Chip took umbrage with Stormzy guesting on a track by Tinie Tempah, who Chip was beefing with at the time, before guesting on another Tinie track a few months later).Then, as Chip claims on “Flowers”, Stormzy asked Chip for his address, which Chip provided to him “out of love”, only for Stormzy to arrive unannounced “two days later, tryna pull up with your thugs”.
This incident allegedly took place a while ago, per a since-deleted Instagram post from Chip’s manager Ashley-Rae. According to her, Stormzy turned up at Chip’s apartment complex, was asked to leave twice but refused, and instead made his way up to Chip’s apartment, where he caused a heated commotion with Chip’s family.
Chip’s manager explained in her post that they held on to the video for a while because of “bigger things happening in the world”. But as time went on, Chip and his team decided to release the clip, citing how “people behind the scenes are trying to make up lies and paint certain pictures”. It dropped via Chip’s socials late in the evening on the 7th of October, 2020, with music videos for “Killer MC” and “Flowers” arriving directly after.It’s worth taking things with a pinch of salt. “Killer MC” and “Flowers” both state that Chip has a mixtape coming soon, and what better promo than a rap battle? Cynically, it’s easy to see the timing of this as a stunt drumming up interest in Chip’s upcoming music. He’s a well trained battle rapper – and defeating Stormzy in a clash could be the uptick he needs for the tape’s release.However, Stormzy posting up on Chip’s place surely isn’t a marketing stunt. Which begs the question: why? Surely it’s not worth risking your public reputation over a couple of lyrics?Relatively mellow by Chip’s often fierce standards, “Flowers” and “Killer MC” seem like bait aimed to provoke Stormzy into responding. There are echoes of 2018 here, when Pusha T goaded Drake on “Infared”. That track pushed Drake to respond with a diss track toward Pusha T that ultimately led to the release of “The Story of Adidon” and a very public unveiling of Drake’s private life. It’s easy to presume Chip has a meticulous second run waiting to go when and if Stormzy responds, where he’ll go up a gear.Moments like this make rap seem like a sport, as two artists spar with one another for credit. Right now, Chip is firmly on the playing field. Question is: will Stormzy show up?@RyanBassil