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Why Skepta is most important black British artist right now

Hear what, yeah, I said it. And I ain't taking back no talk. And I ain't a post-Kanye West and Drake co-sign Skepta fan. Nor am I a deeper grime fan so I'm not gonna go into bere specifics. Nor do I feel its necessary to go into grand detail. I'm just here to talk about the greater cause. Skepta has helped bring back what it means to be a black Londoner expressing him/herself through music and that good stuff.

(That's to prove I'm not a band wagon guy.)

You may remember I posted a little one man reasoning about why Fuse ODG is the best black British artist. He then went on to become the best selling black British artist of the year and it doing a tour bigger than most black men with a mic are currently able to (Hammersmith Apollo is like 4k capacity, most do under 2k). This is something I've been thinking and tweeting for a while now. Well, it's gone from Skepta is the best/king to the most important over time. Today I'm posting these thoughts.

(Little note: my disclaimer in the above Fuse post was "*subject to change when Skepta, Chip and/or Wretch drop some material.")

Skepta is like if all of a sudden New York ruled hip hop again. London's got its culture back. We were in some grim times (definitely not grime times). The focus had shifted to UK rap, which was pretty cool for a bit. Let's be honest, it was a lot better than the Wearing My Rolex, Oopsy Daisy and (Tinchy Stryder) Number 1 chasing by other respected artists who weren't capable of making those songs like the artists who did. That was until UK rap started rehashing American sounds, rhyme schemes and slang. Every week there were hundreds of freestyles of the latest American hip hop banger or everyone wanted to be Drake and those who didn't, wanted to be Rick Ross. And the worst thing is, people actually believed it was where we needed to go.

How many times did we hear Lex Luger or "I'm On One" (produced by T-Mac) discounts? These people were literally making audition tapes for WSHH and hoping some American rapper would RT their cover then they'd get signed or at least put it in their press release. That was the premise of the whole thing - "bridge the gap" or "UK2US". (I wrote this about the whole shit.)

The singers over here were dying for a UK r&b scene too. So all we had was people chasing UK equivalent to hip hop and r&b. In that time, UK black singers have found success in house songs - where they should've been in the first place.

Only rapper to get a "US" (Canadian) rapper co-sign in them times was Sneakbo. Drake liked the way he rapped on dancehall riddims (vid here). Yeah, nothing to do with the rappers rapping over his own instrumentals or anything near that. He liked how he handled dancehall. Instead of fusing and creating something cool, UK rap plunged further and further to US influence.

That was at an all-time peak in 2013. Link Up TV made a docu on UK rap and Grime Daily become GRM (Grime and Rap Music(?)) Daily. Then K Koke got dropped by Roc Nation and everyone thought "Hold on, wah gwaan?" Krept & Konan's album success brought hope back though. And yes, it was an album.

Then blam! Meridian Dan's "German Whip" really kicked things off. One thing I'd like to note though, JME "96 Fuckeries" narrowly missing out on top 40 (I believe it reached 43) is an underplayed factor in all of this. That did a lot. But anyway, "German Whip" hitting top 20 really made people think there's something there. Lethal Bizzle said he changed his whole strategy last year, making and releasing "Rari Workout" instead of this year's "Fester Skank".

But Skepta took the whole thing to a different level. Where "German Whip" had the "is it trap/is it grime?" debate, "That's Not Me" was straight up grime without apology in every single aspect. Sonically, it referenced to the a golden era of Wiley productions, the initial documentary style video which recalled memories of Risky Roads and Practice Hours DVD's and his all-black tracksuit styling with the Streets is Watched fitted cap. Everything about it was 2005 in 2014. The official video was straight Just Jam by Tim and Barry.

The international co-signs means the most to people who aren't sure of who they are or what to like. But big up you lot 'cos you're the swing voters so you matter. That isn't why we are gathered here today. Skepta has brought being a black Londoner back into fashion - quite literally. Don't get it twisted, I ain't saying he's the only guy - there's a whole movement - I'm just saying he's the current figurehead.

And this is so important because we really need it. In these supposed borderless and culture-less times, the youths need to know that representing where you're from will always be the key to honesty. Replicating a next man's ting isn't the be all and end all. There are a lot of talented rappers in the UK, but they lack identity outside of their lyrics of being guys from the ends. That real authenticity. Skepta has the vibes of grime, hip hop and dancehall all in him. He's fully London. Fully.

Skepta does all of that. And three top quality singles in, he's en route to a classic album moment. Deliver an album as good as Blacklisted and he's got the first grime classic album in a long time. Classic's aren't just about material, its about what it stands for. I just really hope he doesn't miss the moment by delaying the release of the album.

For years, I've been crying out for artists to reflect the ends; dress like the ends and speak like we do in normal convo. Don't shy away from saying certain words because they aren't said in US hip hop and on the other side, don't saying things just because people in the US do. Do you.

Them moments there.

And you can check out his Red Bull chat below. Ain't watched it but I trust it

This reminds me of how the likes of Protoje and Chronixx have brought Jamaican makers of reggae back to the forefront after European and American bands took the focus for a bit. A lot of Jamaicans started making music like Americans who were making Jamaican-inspired music, these lot took it back to the root of the music and are outperforming everyone who did the opposite. I saw the vision from 2012. People are seeing that manifesting now.

Just remembered this thought stream I liked to end this post with a stream of thoughts from 2013. 


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