Our grime week has covered plenty of the classic avenues: we've got pieces on Wiley and D Double E, premieres from Dizzee and Newham Generals, and everyone we know got together to shout, argue, and tussle until we came up with the best grime verses ever. However, while it's all well and good looking back, there's a new generation of MCs and producers rising from the shadows - who have been brought up on "Ice Rink" and Lethal B - and they could potentially be more potent than the top boys of the genre.
Everyone, including us, has been wanging on about Lewisham crew The Square and rising MC Stormzy. They're both fucking great, of course, but dig deeper and there's a cart-load of bold of underrated MCs and producers worthy of taking the genre by the reigns and steering into the future. Some of them are boxfresh, others have been around since the beginning but are only now reaching peak productvity.
With that in mind, here's a round-up of the new grime acts who are making movements. Read this list; listen to them; understand you're now more knowledgeable in grime than ever before.
If you feel like you’ve heard the name Izzie Gibbs before then maybe you saw him spitting on stage at Noisey's grime karaoke or read about him in our Lewisham McDeez report earlier this week. In case you haven’t, a quick re-cap: last week the young Northampton MC took Rinse FM’s Spyro by surprise on his show by launching into a furious send for Novelist and Elf Kid of The Square in response to a little bit of Twitter hype a few weeks earlier. After declining the chance to clash Novelist outside McDonalds in Lewisham (over 100 miles from where Izzie lives), he opted to shut down Cameo’s show instead (listen here 1hr 19 mins 27 secs in) with a few other young MCs.
Away from all that noise though, Izzie is a powerful MC. Now a member of the Invasion Alert crew and managed by Dice Recordings, he's carving out a name for himself in the scene with a Dizzee-like flow and sick sense of humour. We’re still hopeful that we’ll see that clash but you can’t blame Izzie, KFC is miles better tbf & tbh.
AKA Wiley’s little brother, Cadell has been releasing music since he was was old enough to start buying his own clothes (around fourteen). At the moment he's working more on artist development and bringing through other young MCs and producers from Bow E3.
A love for war must run in the Cowie blood, Cadell clashed Novelist in the street last year, but since the Who’s Da Boss DVD never came out, the only people who know the outcome were those that witnessed it live (unsurprisingly, Cadell claims he spun the Lewisham MC around the block). When Izzie Gibbs was picking up a buzz from sending for Novelist, Cadell turned up to Cameo’s show with him and put himself right at the forefront of the war - remind you of anyone?
There’s no denying that the younger Cowie has a tight flow, reminiscent of his famous big brother at his best, but he hasn’t released enough music quite yet. With any luck, his upcoming Trapaholics 2 mixtape (to be released on Christmas Day) will set the levels.
Cas isn’t new by any stretch of the imagination - he used to spit as Castro Saint back in the early 2000s – but he’s really stepped things up in the last couple of years with releases that showcase his undoubted lyrical ability. Cas’s mask, his inconsistent work rate (he played Fabric once, and did a gig in Brighton on Halloween, that’s about it) and the fact that all of his releases come with expensive and professional visuals suggest that he’s probably got a sick 9-5 and does music as a hobby, but that hasn’t stopped him from amassing a cultish fan base.
Simply put, Cas is grime’s best story-teller, with bars that go into remarkable detail and a few off-the-cuff remarks about fucking corpses that would make Savile wince a bit. He also spits the best drug bar of all time on “Baraka”…
“Benadryl, that’s what I use to cut the kuf, sorry to deceive ya, none of my cats had any complaints, none of them had hayfever either!”
Sickers polarises opinion more than just about any MC around at the minute. Some of the biggest names in the scene – including Jammer and Ghetts – rate him highly, but his detractors would have you believe that he introduced Tinchy to the Chuckle Brothers and bought a white label of Eskimo to use as a coaster.
You won’t see many MCs with a faster career progression than Grim Sickers though, and it’s easy to forget that not long ago he was clashing on Don’t Flop and releasing standard rap tunes. Grim Sickers makes this list because not only was he involved in one of the most joyously puerile clashes in grime history (against Grimmy on LOTM 5) but his “Tesco bag him” bars are a straight wheel-up every time, and better than a lot of MCs will manage in their entire career.
Dark0 has been at the forefront of the recent revival of instrumental grime. Rather than focusing on the old Eskibeat, square-wave sound, Dark0 crafts elaborate melodies inspired by soundtracks from old video games – Final Fantasy VII is a particular favourite – giving his music the depth and substance it requires to stand on its own. Dark0’s music is the sound of grime growing up.
Tre Mission is going to be big, mark our words. Not only is he one of the grime artists with the most crossover potential, but he's a prodigiously talented MC, producer and songwriter, taking in influences from garage, house and rap to produce his own grime sound. Tre solidified his position last year with the release of Malmaison - the best mixtape of 2013 - and Stigmata this year. He also manages to write hooks without just soaking his voice in auto-tune, something a lot of grime MCs still struggle with, despite the fact that even T-Pain has given it up these days.
Considering that a lot of grime fans found it hard to accept MCs with a Birmingham accent, this Toronto native has done spectacularly well to get to the stage he's at now. With grime growing in popularity abroad, let’s not forget that he did it first.
K9 has been around since the early 2000s without ever really releasing much, but that all changed this year, when the west London MC dropped his Mad in the Cut mixtape after spending some time in jail. With a rough, rugged flow and an aggressive, barked delivery, K9 tears into production from Visionist, Dark0 and Mssingno, as well as some more classic grime beats. Mad in the Cut is the best mixtape of the year, so hopefully we’ll hear more of K9 on sets and on radio soon.
Follow Paul on Twitter: @paulgibbins
Catch up on all of our Grime Week content right here.