Grime seems to jump in and out of popularity but there is no doubt that is the foundation of many of the artists who are currently seeing mainstream success. Since the grime genre has been so influential in shaping ok the UK scene, I have formed a list of the 10 must-listen grime projects for those who want a bit of a history lesson. Let me know if there are any missed projects that need to be in the top 10. (These are in no particular order)
1. Dizzee Rascal – Boy In Da Corner (2003, XL Recordings)
In 2003, a 17-year-old Dizzee Rascal released what is now arguably the most important grime record of all time. Boy in da Corner is a grime masterpiece and even 17 years later, still paints a vivid picture of London streets. This frank approach grabbed the attention of the mainstream and catapulted Dizzee Rascal into pop success, through the album winning a Mercury Prize for best Album of the Year. This album raw, industrial sound was truly ahead of its time with bangers such as ‘I Luv U’, ‘Stop Dat’, ‘Just a Rascal’ and the top 20 hit ‘Fix Up, Look Sharp’ and this still remains one of the greatest grime projects of all time, even with it being released in the early beginnings of the genre.
2. Kano – Home Sweet Home (2005, 679 Recordings)
Kano's ‘Home Sweet Home’ showed a different level of artistry compared to his peers in the grime scene with complex rhyme schemes and ear-grabbing lyrics, which lead to this album being a turning point in grime. Kano also had a great talent for creating well-rounded, songs with not only hard bars but catchy, well-written hooks such as ‘Brown Eyes’, ‘Typical Me’ and ‘Sign’s in Life’. At a time where grime was growing, Kano was looking like the chosen one.
3. Logan Sama – War Report (2006)
Clashing is an essential component of grime culture and this has been a huge part of the genre ever since the beginning; following the similar tradition of sound systems in Jamaica. The year 2006 saw grime become the soundtrack of the London streets and competition in the scene had become intense. Wiley and Ghetto (A.K.A Ghetts) were two of the biggest names in the scene and Wiley decided to make a dub sending for both Ghetto and his movement crew, which included MC’s Scorcher, Wretch 32, Devlin and Mercston. This led to a wide range of diss tracks going back and forth between Wiley, The Movement and other associates from both sides, which made for arguably the most exciting grime beef in the genre’s history. All these dubs were compiled into a compilation by legendary grime DJ Logan Sama and makes for one of the most entertaining projects in grime featuring legends in the scene.
4. Wiley – Playtime is Over (2007)
No Grime list can be made without mention the self-proclaimed ‘Godfather of grime’ Wiley. Playtime is Over was the third album by the grime veteran and features some of the best examples of Wiley’s eski-beat sound. From underground hits such as ‘Gangsters’, ‘Bow E3’ and ‘No Qualms’ to a meaningful reach out to former fellow Roll Deep member, Dizzee Rascal (‘Letter to Dizzee’) and a touching ode to his daughter (Baby Girl), Playtime is Over is a great album from start to finish. Wiley at his best.
5. Ghetts – Freedom of Speech (2008)
Ghetts A.K.A. Ghetto is arguably the greatest grime artist of all time and one of the strongest discographies in the scene. In this remarkable discography, Freedom of Speech, stands out as one of his darkest projects. Ghetts brought out his aggressive side; mixing this with skippy flows and deep lyrics to create a very memorable project. Exclusively produced by Lewi White and Smasher, this tape showed Ghetts at his angriest with tracks like ‘Mountain’, ‘Buss 1’, ‘Threats’ and ‘Who’s Got’, but the real highlight is the intro ‘Commandments’ where Ghetts sets the tone for the mixtape perfectly.
6. Ruff Sqwad – Guns and Roses vol. 2 (2006)
Ruff Squad is without a doubt one of the most influential grime crews in the scene and Guns and Roses vol. 2 introduced a higher level of grime production from the likes of Rapid and Dirty Danger. These beats fit the flows of each member perfectly and made for one of the most exciting grime projects of all time. Whether it be each of the MCs going back to back on ‘Xtra’ or their vision of what the future holds on the track ‘2016’. This was truly grime music at its best.
7. Wiley – Tunnel Vision Best of (2007)
Wiley's work rate is undeniable and between 2006 and 2007, the legendary MC released 6 quality mixtapes in the form of his Tunnel Vision series; displaying exactly why he should be viewed as one of the greatest MCs of all time. DJ Logan Sama compiled the best tracks from this mixtape series into one mixtape and it sounds almost like the greatest grime hits album with tracks like ‘Bad em up’, ’16 Bar Rally’, ‘Nightbus Dubplate’ and the range of dubs from himself and other artists. Wiley has always promoted the competitive side of grime and this tape embodies that.
8. Ghetts – Ghetto Gospel (2007)
After 2000 and Life and many freestyles Ghetts quickly became a favourite grabbed the attention of grime fans throughout the country. Ghetto Gospel showed a much more introspective and personal side with tracks discussing his failure in school (Test) to the problems growing up in the London streets (Trapped In the System) which made people see a different side to Ghetts artistry. However, Ghetts still displayed the aggressiveness that everyone knows with tracks like ‘Top 3 Selected’, ‘Menace’ and ‘I’m Ghetts’. Overall Ghetto gospel makes for one of the most mature, interesting grime projects to be released.
9. Chipmunk – League of My Own (2007)
Wiley has always championed the young upcoming albums but when he brought two 16-year-olds to the Westwood show, it would change one of their lives forever. Chipmunk quickly became the leader of his generation and shortly after this Westwood set, he released the mixtape League of my own which catapulted Chip to grime fame. Underground hits such as ‘Who are You?’ and ‘Fire Alie’ quickly grabbed the attention of listeners and supported his claims of being ‘the Grime Scene Saviour’. Chipmunk shows skills beyond his years and this tape really was the start of the grime superstar that is Chipmunk.
10. Skepta – Blacklisted (2012)
Blacklisted was a turning point in Grime legend, Skepta's, music and saw the BBK rapper at his creative best. This tape showed Skepta finally finding himself as MC and being in complete creative control of his music which led to an amazing project. The production and rapping is top class from bangers like ‘Ace Hood Flow’, Tour Bus Massacre’ and 'Badman in Tivoli’ to the hazy, weed anthem ‘Mastermind’, Blacklisted made one of the most enjoyable grime projects.