Like a slab of cow meat that's been taken out of the freezer and left to settle in a bowl on a heated kitchen counter for an afternoon, the beef in the UK scene has warmed up once again for 2016. As half-term wound itself down last week and most of us tucked up in our duvets for the remainder of the weekend, grime MC Chip and South London's Yungen kicked off a war that had been brewing for months, going teeth-to-teeth for days, dominating social media as they went, with dubs and visuals that spawned a million memes. You know shit's got personal when an MC's mum is trending on Twitter.
So, just in case you missed it because you're a mole person or gave up the internet for 2016 or something, then here's a blow-by-blow account of the year's first proper war. Let's get into it.
THE VERY FIRST SHADE: “SOME OF YOUR BEST NEWCOMERS AIN’T NEW, SO IF YOU NOMINATE YUNGEN, BIG UP, BUT NOMINATE SNEAKBO TOO”
Was this the bar that kicked it all off? In “96 Bars of Revenge”, quoted above, Chip mentioned that Yungen was nominated for Best Newcomer at the MOBO Awards in 2015. His point being that if he’s going to get nominated (as an artist far from new) then why didn’t Sneakbo (another artist who’s put in an extraordinary amount of work with no recognition from the awards). Chip didn't send for Yungen as much as he was asking for support for Sneakbo.
Nine months ago, in a since deleted conversation I had with Chip on BBC Radio 1Xtra about his Fire In The Booth argument with Tinie Tempah, Chip said, “It’s all about how you decipher bars,” continuing, “If a man is talking about himself and you think that it’s about you, that’s your insecurity.” In this instance he wasn’t talking about Tinie or himself, he was talking about Yungen, and the way Yungen deciphered Chip’s bars led to him address them directly. And so, reader, the fairytale begins.
YUNGEN SENDS SUBLIMINALS: “MAN WANNA TALK ABOUT ME AT THE MOBO’S LIKE I AIN’T EARNED IT, MAN WANNA TALK ABOUT MY NOMINATION LIKE I DON’T DESERVE IT"
Yungen let the beef marinate for a minute (or a month or four) until a fortnight ago, when he released the track "Comfy" with the bars above. In essence, it was a freestyle over a grime beat, which was the first indication that he was ready for war. A rapper using a grime instrumental to come after a grime artist is like a shark jumping into a bull’s field and saying, “Fam, I’m here to destroy you.”
CHIP WARMS UP: “ONE TAKE FREESTYLE”
Two weeks later, Chip dropped his version of “One Take Freestyle”, and in his opening bar he let everyone know, “I take shots at MC’s when I want like what?” The rest of the track was just shot after shot after shot – it was a call out. Chip was semi ready for sends at this point, but he was still in light-work mode.
THE WAR PROPER BEGINS, WITH YUNGEN'S “PUNK (SH*TMUNK DISS)"
So, this is where the plot thickened. Yungen wasted no time in releasing a full response entitled “PUNK” (Sh*tmunk Diss) filmed in a petrol station to mimic an earlier Chip vs Bugzy Malone clash video, and munching a pizza (that wasn’t even Dominos or Pizza Hut, like WTF!?) with his pals.
The track saw Yungen play all types of dirty: it’s fun, witty, lyrically good, and very direct. Like this line about Chip driving a Smart car: “Coming at me ain’t smart, cah, I’ll tip over your smart car”. He even managed to throw in some defense curveballs and premeditate Chip's next bars by dissing himself. For someone new to clashing, he’d certainly done a lot of research on how it works. The track even begins with audio from an interview Meek Mill did in which he doesn’t remember Chip, despite having collaborated with him in previous years.
THE SUBTEXT TO PUNK (SH*TMUNK DISS)
Within minutes of the video going live, Music Twitter detectives flagged up two points. First, Kaylum Dennis (the videographer) was spotted chilling on Stormzy’s Snapchat in another country, suggesting the visuals were pre-recorded. And secondly, Yungen would have had to wait up to 45 minutes for the pizza, especially if we’re not talking Dominos or Pizza Hut delivery times, yet he released the video 50 minutes after Chip’s? Backing the theory that this was a premeditated response.
Personally, I was so excited the response even existed that I didn’t bother to care whether it was a premeditated send. The rumour mill kicked into gear though, suggesting that Quason Matthews (who filmed Chip’s “One Take”) leaked the original diss on his own Snapchat, which gave Yungen the jump, but that’s hearsay. In a stream of tweets from Play Dirty’s Krept, we’re told a conversation took place between Play Dirty and Chip, that resulted in Chip saying he would not send. Why the Yungen reply was still prepped and ready to go is something I guess we’ll never know…
CHIP HITS BACK HARD: "MICHELLE RIDDIM (LIL CLIVE DISS)"
It’s tracks like this that remind you that Chip is built for clashing. In the title alone, he simultaneously outed Yungen’s government name (“Clive”), and implied he was as insignificant to the Play Dirty crew as Michelle is to Destiny’s Child. He also flip reverses Yungen's Meek Mill diss by beginning with an interview audio cutting of Yungen hailing Chip.
From there, “Michelle Riddim” just gets better. It’s dark, moody and tense, and, lyrically, Chip is giving you everything: flows, bars, laughs, and facts. At this stage in the war – I’m ignoring the warm up dubs because they were just that, warm up dubs – it’s 1-1. We’re entering the blow-for-blow attacks, and this is when people started waiting up all damn night for the next one.
It’s also where the whole thing gets a bit technical and problematic, because the biggest par on “Michelle Riddim (Lil Clive Diss)” actually went to Tinie Tempah (referred to as Patrick), with Chip turning a pretty disrespectful mimic of his mother's voice into a flow. Within seconds memes were flying around the internet about his mum and it all got very, very personal. I’d never have brought mums into it, I don’t have the heart for it, but I guess that’s why I’m not a grime MC.
Side note: Just incase you thought Chip was gonna let the Smart car jibe go, “What’s wrong with having a Smart (car), I ain’t broke are you having a laugh? I got ten bags for the girl that’s got a restraining order on your clart”
CUE YUNGEN BRINGING IN A WHOLE FLEET OF SMART CARS FOR HIS RESPONSE,"OOPSY DAISY RIDDIM"
First time I heard this, I felt like I knew all of the words. Closed the damn laptop three times because I was too hyped to listen anymore, and had to wheel the whole video up near the end when I realised he’d carried on the joke about Chip driving a Smart car, hiring a whole fleet of the bastards for the video. Somehow, Smart car was becoming the real winner of the whole damn saga.
CHIP SHUTS UP SHOP WITH "L (LIL CLIVE DISS 2)"
In what might be the final send of the war, there was an appropriately conclusive air to “L (Lil Clive Diss 2)”. Chip addressed everything Yungen said to him and throws a diss to Yungen’s mum, too. We learned nothing new really, but at this point I think we all remembered that, “Chip don’t run out of bars”. He isn’t going to run out of bars, Yungen. Like, he’s never going to stop.
At the end of the video, he takes on an accent that I think is meant to be African and that I think we were meant to find funny, and then proceeds to tell Link Up TV (the channel hosting Yungen’s videos) that he’s gunning for them and they need to remove his track “Oopsy Daisy Riddim” from their channel. “Oi link up, you lot think you’re funny yeah, Oopsy Daisy that’s my banger, that videos getting taken down, or you owe me p’s bruh cause we ain’t friends you can’t be sampling my shit”.
At this point, I want a grime rulebook – like, is that allowed? We can clash and I can diss your mum but you can’t sample my tune to diss me back? The lines of war have blurred and I’d very quickly like it to end now.
COUNTING THE DEAD…
As my mind wandered over to the non-existent grime rulebook, the video ended and the artwork for Chip's latest release Rap Vs Grime filled the screen. I wondered if this whole thing was us being punked for a second, because we’re definitely witnessing a rapper versus a grime artist right now. Could this all have been a plot to sell records, and announce a joined Play Dirty x Cash Motto arena tour with everyone involved? Then I remember, this is grime.
Either way, it was a ride watching two fierce MCs go at it for days with off the cuff visuals and alarm clocks set for sends that may or may not drop on time. Bar for bar, Chip would win in a serious Lord of the Mics style clash against Yungen, but when you take in the visuals, the entertainment factor and the quality of the disses, then both have been levels.
There were many winners in this war. Kaylum Dennis and Quason Matthews deserve credit for being dragged out of bed at all hours to film, edit and upload visuals for the impatient grime scene crew and Link Up TV should get props for pretending they had a Chipmunk video ready to release, only to troll a nation of internet users. That was naughty, but you trended on Twitter that night, so I guess you’re the real MVP’s.
But when all is said and done, there was only one real victor that emerged from the savagery of Chip and Yungen’s all out war, and that was Smart car, who remained consistent throughout. You really held up them mentions, bro. Peace.
You can follow Sian Anderson on Twitter.