A Conversation with Rude Kid About the Future of Grime on Mainstream Radio
"Grime is no longer a niche genre, it’s just simply: good music."
This article was originally published on Noisey UK
Grime has endured a chequered relationship. In the earliest days, pirate radio stations were dotted all over London, broadcasting live sets from MCs and DJs in the humblest of surroundings. Mixers and speakers in kitchen sinks, aerials on tower block rooftops, bargain-basement decks with pennies taped to the needles slowly but surely destroying one-way dubplates and white labels. Pirate radio was raw and ramshackle, but it was where every MC honed their technique, where DJs learned their trade, and where producers sent their beats to be heard by a wider audience.
When it came to legal radio, grime’s struggles became more apparent. Despite its success, Lethal Bizzle’s legendary “Pow (Forward)” was banned from airplay on a number of stations in 2004, due to its violent lyrics. At times, such as BBC Radio 1Xtra’s Wiley Showcase, the rules of legal radio were thrown out of the window in favour of rowdy clashes between the likes of Trim and Fumin’ or Lethal Bizzle telling Wiley his mum had AIDS. That sound you can hear in the background there is probably the producers tearing clumps of hair out. But while Choice FM and 1Xtra played grime, there wasn’t really a dedicated grime show on the airwaves aside from Logan Sama’s unsociable Monday night slot on Kiss FM.
When Logan left Kiss FM in 2014, the station seemed keen to move away from grime. They had even taken Meridian Dan’s “German Whip” off the playlist at the height of its fame. All of a sudden, grime no longer had a specialist radio show on anything approaching mainstream radio anymore. Despite "German Whip" becoming the most successful grime single in a number of years, its routes to radio were fewer than ever.
Now, however, all that is changing. Not only are grime tracks making it onto the playlists of Radio 1 on their own merit, but 1Xtra shows from Sian Anderson, Logan Sama and Spooky are showing that it’s not just on the pirates where grime radio is flourishing. Kiss FM – which originally started as a pirate station – even seems to be remembering that it loves grime after all, and has appointed DJ and producer Rude Kid to host his own Sunday night grime show.
We caught up with Rude Kid, ahead of his performance on the Noisey Stage at Lovebox this weekend, to ask him about his new Kiss FM slot, his mission to replicate the success of Logan Sama’s legendary grime show, and his favourite grime radio moments.
Noisey: Yo, how’s it going?
Rude Kid: What’s good bro? Whoa! What the fuck are you doing!? Sorry, sorry, I’m driving and some prick just cut me up. He was not giving me way. Sorry bro, what’s happening?
I’m good, I’m good. Drive safe man! Why don’t you tell me about your new Kiss FM show?
I never really thought about doing a radio show before, but they approached me and asked if I’d be up for doing a demo. I thought it would be a great thing for the scene to have its own Kiss FM show again. So I did a demo, we had a few back and forths, they really liked my voice and the way I was presenting so they gave me the show. It’s every Sunday at 10pm.
Kiss had a well-publicised fall-out with grime a while ago. They took “German Whip” off the playlist and moved Logan Sama’s show to an online-only specialist show. Did they mention anything to you about bringing grime back to their station?
Grime is at a high at the moment, you can’t get rid of it, it’s in your face no matter what. They knew it was important to get a grime show back on there and they needed somebody to present it. Logan smashed it at Kiss, you can’t say anything bad about that guy, he helped me get my name out there by playing my music out every week. But maybe when they moved his show they thought grime was dying off? I dunno, I’m just guessing. They tried to move it to Kiss Fresh and maybe he didn’t think it was good enough for him. Kiss Fresh is a big thing, but for someone who’s been on Kiss for 8-10 years it is a bit of a downgrade. He’s a pioneer in the scene. Now I think Kiss are supporting it again, and I really hope that I can do what Logan did for the next few years.
How important is it that grime has access to mainstream radio now? It was lacking it for so many years—with the exception of Logan working the nightshift on Mondays – but now we have Sian’s show on 1xtra, you on Kiss and many others.
I think it’s very important. But even if you look at the mainstream playlists now, there’s always a grime tune on there. Grime is no longer a niche genre, it’s just simply: good music. Now if you’re an MC, you know you’ve got a platform to get your music heard on a wider scale. Even my show at 10pm goes out to a wide range of people because of the time it’s on. That’s going to help the scene grow from the bottom up.
It’s all well and good being on the playlist on Radio 1 etc, but surely it’s more important for the scene to have specialist DJs on the radio who genuinely understand the genre and its history?
That’s vital. My show’s a specialist show but they’ve given me a wicked time slot. It’s so important to have people who know the scene inside out and who have strong opinions on the music, because otherwise there’s no point and they’re just going to play whatever they get told to play. They won’t be scouting out for new talent, or listening to the best instrumentals. It’s so important that we find the new Stormzys, the new Skeptas, whoever they are.
Before your Kiss FM show, you had done a pirate shows on Radar and Rinse. How much did they help?
Not that much, because Kiss is a different level. On Rinse and Radar you just do what you’re doing, innit? You could call 100 guys there with 1 mic and spray – you have that freedom. On Kiss, there has to be a plan and a structure. Both Radar and Rinse are massive for the scene, but Kiss is another level. Rinse might be legal now, but it still has that pirate ethos, and you can probably class Radar as a pirate station even though it’s never been on the FM dial. You can swear on there, do what you want on there—it’s still very underground.
What type of show do you enjoy more?
I had great times on those stations, but I’m enjoying Kiss more. It’s my show, so they support whatever it is I want to do. I’ve enjoyed every show I’ve ever done though.
Nothing beats the energy of a good grime set with live MCs. Are you gonna be getting MCs on and doing sets on your show?
Yeah, we just did our first session with Newham Generals. That’s online now. Every other week we’re gonna be filming sets with MCs. I feel like lots of people want to see how the MCs behave in live set situations instead of just hearing it. At the same time I’m trying to do things a different way; I want to bring back the old school holding-the-mic-in-your-hand style of MCing on radio, rather than having them spitting in front of the condenser mics.
Do you have any favourite grime radio moments? There was a clash between RD and Fuda Guy on your Rinse FM Christmas set which was pretty amazing.
Oh yeah that was mad! I organised that set in 45 minutes you know? It was just me ringing Rinse and asking if they had a guest slot free. God knows why they never gave me a show there by the way, because every show I did for them was mad. Anyway, I called a load of MCs, and there were about a million people there. I asked if we could get the set filmed and they said no. That’s mad. If that set was filmed it would’ve been crazy.
How about as a fan? Anything that sticks out?
If we’re talking old school moments then it has to be Titch vs Dizzee on the roof of Deja Vu FM. That’s one of my favourite sets of all time. Wait a second... [has inaudible chat with passenger] Oh shit Wiley clashing Lethal on Deja Vu too.
Timeless. Cheers Rude Kid.
Rude Kid plays Lovebox Festival in London this weekend.