It seems that every time we hear of grime, spoken about in the way that it deserves, it’s coming from London.
Whether it’s Skepta absolutely annihilating Ally Pally, or crowds illegally breaking into Wireless to see an array of grime stars, we always find the grime news honing in on the capital. However, Northern grime has started to become something that’s more readily available. But the light can be grim – whether it’s people taking the piss out of kids in Blackpool who are trying to make a name for themselves and the genre, or in shock that Leicester can do more than simply kick a ball.
Undoubtedly you’ve seen the viral-videos of 12-year-old, Blackpool-born Little T talking about how he’s going to “rape your little sister” on the estate in his home town. And while obviously not supporting anything that he’s claimed in his verses, it’s saying something that someone who is rapping in such a way is the face of the seaside town’s grime scene. Luckily we’ve also got, the (somewhat) more sensible, Soph Aspin and Afghan Dan helping pave the way and ideally taking the pre-teen under their arm as well. But aside from these adolescents, the scene isn’t there. So we can laugh at the “squad” of children grime-stars, or we can salute the fact they’re actually giving it a go, but maybe just try and PG their lyrics a bit.
The same is happening in Scotland, 16-year-old rapper Shogun made the rounds on Facebook solely for the fact that people couldn’t believe a Scottish lad could do grime. But the shock solely comes from the fact we’ve never heard grime that far north before, and maybe because we’re shocked we can actually understand such a thick accent in such a rapid rap. However it’s the inclusion of bars about his hometown and even touching upon the difficulties of his dream in the place he calls home that makes him so shocking. It’s not all that often that we hear a white, epitome of Northern, boy talking about his trials and tribulations to get where he is, however small he may be.
And in the, somewhat, newfound home of grime you’ve got Lil T from the Midlands. The eleven-year-old from Leicester represents the Champions of England in a way that isn’t just football. With his obviously young appearance contradicting everything that he’s talking about, it’s almost impossible to disregard his tracks. And you shouldn’t.
And overall, despite Leicester not being as northern as the rest, the scene is one that lacks potential for humor and mockery. With grime stars like Skeez and Kamakaze being regularly picked up by JDZ Media, they must be doing something right. Especially the latter, who appeared on the infamous Red Bull Grime-a-Side, and helped secure the city the silver medal – which makes a change for a city that have revelled in gold for the last year, but hey it’s still good.
But, especially in Leicester, it’s also about the producing. With recording studios like HQ in the centre of the city welcoming anyone with a passion for music, despite their age or location, to be moulded into a grime star it’s no surprise that some of the best come from there. That’s one thing we have to commend the North on – if you can even call Leicester that – is their capability to leave the judging elsewhere.
Ultimately the main difference between the Wiley’s and Little T’s of this world, apart from the age, is the acceptance and pure feeling that they can do it, either because it hasn’t been done, or because there’s no one around to tell them it has.
The fact is, anywhere that isn’t London doesn’t have the same weight in the grime scene, but why not? Perhaps it’s because we feel as though the lifestyle that grime stars should have resides in London, or because they just released their mixtape first. And let’s face it, the child grime-star scene isn’t needed in London – we’ve already got middle-aged men talking about fucking their mate’s mums.
Words by Mollie Mansfield