Time and time, grime has been referred to as a ‘movement’, dictionary defined as ‘a group of people working together to advance their shared political, social, or artistic ideas’, a definition perfectly representative of grime.
Just two weeks ago, The Guardian released a 3 page spread on Wiley, ‘The Godfather of Grime’, telling stories of how he paid out for production time for artists, knowing he’d stand to make no gain from it.
Not only did Wiley spark the grime scene through countless similar acts of generosity, he also started an ideology that grime wasn’t a one man game, it was a team sport.
Wiley himself was responsible for putting one of his closest friends, Dizzee Rascal, on the map. The man has gone on to release hugely successful albums, headline the Brits, and find himself within the hierarchy of the grime scene. Wiley tried to do the same, over and over, for countless other artists – in his words “some of us blew, some of us never”.
In many ways Wiley didn’t seem to want to make it himself, tweeting “fuck them and their farm” after a bust up at 2013 Glastonbury, ensuring the world’s biggest festivals would think twice before booking the man in the future.
Yet, if grime was a baby when Wiley had hold of it, it’s a fully grown man now. The hand-holding and support still remains, along with another stamp left on the genre via latest record The Godfather. Now however, the support is mostly provided by BBK.
The fact that a baton was passed from Wiley to BBK serves to highlight the importance of having a team around you in grime; it’s as much a part of the genre as the bassline is. Whether it was Wiley pushing the newest young talent forward, or BBK taking one hit wonders, and attempting to make them more than just that, a team is always there.
So why did BBK need to take over from Wiley? Well, the man was getting on a bit, to put it briefly. He’s considered retirement before now and it was time for something new to come through, and in stepped Skepta, JME, and with them, the BBK label.
Of course Wiley is still part of BBK, never a man to just give up on the art he created and refined to the diamond it is today. However, BBK didn’t start off in the limelight like Dizzee Rascal found. They went through that damp period where the world thought grime was dead, alongside everyone else in the scene. It took attempt after attempt to get them on the global stage again, to get them to the point where they could sign people like Drake.
Now it’s a case of continuity, and this is where the group aspect really comes into grime. Countless tracks feature other artists; in fact, it’s rarer to find a solo track in grime than it is to find a collaboration, a stark contrast to the like of indie and pop. So, BBK provide a platform for artists to bounce off each other, to act stronger together than apart. This is outlined most pressingly in the release of Solo 45’s two new tracks on the 7th of February.
Solo 45 could have easily been boxed up and Fedex’ed straight to ‘one hit wonder’ land and forgotten for the rest of eternity, but because of the people he has around him, it’s unlikely the man will be left behind. He worked with two of the biggest artists in grime on his two newest tracks, Stormzy and JME and it it’ll pay off in the form of prestige. People will hear from Solo 45 as a result of this collaboration, and in time, the strength and depth of the grime scene will expand with more acts like himself being saved from falling back into obscurity all because of BBK.
Who would of thought, in a scene (wrongly, yet frequently) stigmatised as a pastime for the violent and the unlawful, that such togetherness and unity would form its very core?
I’ll tell you who: Wiley.
Words by Alex Slater