“Grime is the voice of unrest, the voice of upheaval and rebellion, we’re the raw ting. We’re the ting, we’re the fuck off ting.”
As one of the original faces from the grime scene, Scorcher has seen the rise and fall, and rise again of our scene. Part of The Movement from early, Scorcher regularly works with his boys Ghetts, Wretch 32 and Mercston as he has from day, however you’ll also find him in old school freestyle vids alongside Wiley, Skepta and basically anyone you can think of.
As well as releasing bangers like “Rendez Vous”, “Used To Be” and that savage Dappy diss, Scorcher has been making a name for himself over the last half decade as a character actor. Since appearing as London Fields boy Kamale in Top Boy back in 2011, he’s appeared in more and more gritty British productions like 2012’s Offender and his most recent release, The Intent, where he takes on the lead role.
As if releasing a feature film wasn’t enough, Scorcher has just dropped new track “99 Riddim (My Ting)” featuring Mercston and Ghetts. GRM Daily caught up with Scorcher in the light of the US elections to chat the direction the grime scene is moving, movies, politics, and other light hearted topics.
Congrats on the track “99 Riddim”, also on The Intent. Good to see you’re doing both at the moment. Do you think next, you’re going to start going behind the camera? Can you see yourself directing feature films?
“Yeah! Maybe not feature films but I got some projects on the go. I don’t want to talk too much about them though, I just want to do them. But yeah I got some slightly still.
“I have a record with Donae’o coming and I directed the video for that. We’ve shot it, working with Chas Appeti for the visual. I knew what I needed but I just needed someone who could DOP and bring my ideas to life, you know? And Chas has also got his own input to make it sick as well. I just wanted a piece of art – you know – go really crazy.”
Your first major role was Kamale in Top Boy. That’s quite a high profile role to start on. So what inspired that transition?
“Just life, just opportunity.”
How did that come about, did Channel 4 approach you?
“I didn’t know anything about it. Didn’t even know anything about acting . Didn’t know how you get into this and that. Just so happened that the casting director saw a music video that I was in and directed and kinda liked the look of me. He liked the “Dark Knight” video, and he just thought ‘I like this guy’ and reached out.”
With The Intent, you’re a much bigger character and I know you’re going to be in the sequel, too. Do you see acting becoming your main career or do you always think you’ll be making music first?
“In terms of career I don’t know, but I will always make music because I make music for me first and foremost. I make music just because I like it. I used to have to pay to make music so there’s high odds that Ill always be making music. Whether or not it makes me money.”
You’ve spoken in the past about your family’s very eclectic music tastes and you used to play piano when you were a kid. How do you think that mixed background has affected the way that you make music and your sound?
“Its weird because it’s probably given me more musical understanding about things but at the same time when you’re learning stuff by yourself you kinda figure out your own DIY way of doing things, you get me? It’s mad because funny enough I made my first beat in years last night and I was basically just messing about on Snapchat and that and I posted that.
“I posted the snap on my Instagram and literally within what felt like seconds.. bing bing bing bing.. and Ghetts was popping up on my thing and then riiiiiiing he was ringing my phone like ‘blud I need that’. He was like ‘yeah blud that’s the ting. That’s my ting blud, you know my ting.’ I’m thinking ‘rah!’ and that just happened to be the first beat I’ve made in so long and I’m kinda buzzing off that to be honest, I’m gonna get that over to Ghetts immediately and hopefully we got one.”
So that means another Movement collab is coming!
In the last couple years, especially in the mainstream, grime has seen such a crazy surge in popularity, the audience has grown a lot but with that the audience has also changed, do you think that that wider audience has diluted the genre? Do you think people are making music for the new audience rather than being true to themselves?
“Nah. I think we had that phase; that time has come and gone. I think now, it’s just sick because it’s just a case now that people can just be themselves and the way everything is at the moment they will always be themselves man, and audiences will gravitate towards that.
“You don’t necessarily need a massive platform or a massive machine behind you to get your own ting going you know. That’s how it looks from where I’m at.”
So when do you think that that period of – you said its been and gone already – when do you think that period was?
“I dunno I couldn’t tell you the date exactly, maybe over the past two years or so. You can see that it’s not really a major label vibe right now. Do you know what I mean? There’s people in major situations that are doing well and that’s good for them but I think the playing field is just getting a lot more even now. Yeah, its dope.”
As with anything that becomes popular in the mainstream, there is the possibility of the scene becoming another music machine, about sales and numbers. Do you feel the pressure from outside sources to make different kinds of music?
“No, (laughing) nah, nah, nah. I’m just not really on that to be honest. I don’t really care about that to be honest. I just want to make dope art and sick art, you get me?”
At the moment in the grime scene there does seem to be a lot more love than hate. Like there’s less beefs and disses than a few years ago, do you agree?
“Maybe… yeah maybe. I don’t know though…”
Do you think that’s because the original artists – like yourself Wretch, Ghetts, Wiley, Dizzee, Kano – are all in your 30s now? Do you think everyone’s calming down in their older age and focusing more on the art?
“No because there’s new artists that wanna do the exact opposite. They want to clash everyone and diss everyone.”
Do you think that’s a divide between older and the newer artists?
“There are old artists that are still on that as well! I honestly think that everything stays the same but it’s the people that change. I think what’s cool changes and what’s ‘in’ changes. What’s the ‘in’ colour this season? You get me?
“I think for the most part the ingredients stay the same but the dynamics change, people have still got the same attitude and still do this stuff but they’re being received differently. Big Narstie is still exactly the same – exactly the same! However he’s on completely different people’s radar now so it’s received differently.”
So to your new track! Back with Ghetts and Merston. How does it feel to be making music with your day ones again? When was the last time that you guys got together on a track?
“It’s just normal because the last time was the other day! People don’t realise that we’re bredrins anyway, so we make music. Whether you hear it or you don’t hear it, it’s always happening.
“We’ve got some cold thing, oh! We got a mad ting. We got a mad ting. On the Davinche project, it’s crazy. It’s like an in and out ting, two lines here one line there. It’s all over the place, it’s bonkers! It’s like ch ch ch!! It’s mad. Like that, yo! That? Man will say ‘yo, dem man, their ting, that’s different. Different.'”
Is that coming soon?
“The video is being shot. We’re just waiting for my pal Sam Shaw to get back from LA because he’s got some cold bit on the song.
“The intro is mad, too. Big up Mikill Pane on the intro – so bonkers – It’s like spoken word what he does at the start. Doing the proper ting, the proper ting.”
Alright so the B-side to “99 Riddim” is the Donae’O produced track, “Paranoid”. That’s a lot of big names on one release. Do you think there is an obligation for the original wave of artists to keep making music with each other in order to keep the genre rooted?
“The way you worded that, that sounds pretty dope and important but honestly… no, not really. If I’m honest, I just do what I like. I like what I like and know who I know. Me and Donae’o worked together years ago and we fell out over working differences. His circumstance and my circumstance just didn’t really work. We had different people in our representation and stuff like that.
“Then fast forward like loads of years – like 8 years or something like that – Donae’o reached out through a bredrin and we saw each other and chatted as grown men and was like ‘it’s mad because I respect you’re music man’ and vice versa. I was like ‘let’s get some work done’ and we got in the studio and it was mad. It was just me and him in the studio and we made a mad ting. Mad! It is so mad. It was like ‘what have we been doing? Why have we waited so long?’
At the moment you’ve got Section Boyz playing music with Chris Brown, there’s a lot of –
“Shut up, you know I rate that! You know what I rate so much about that song? Is that they’re actually spitting like Section Boyz. It’s so mad they might as well have done their bit and sent it to Chris Brown.
“He’s trying to spit like them! He’s on their wave! Which I thought was mad, that made me realise this is not a ting man are co-signing the British ting. Man are trying to get the cool, man are trying to be part of what’s going on and it’s sick.”
Rather than the traditional thing of a British artist trying to sound like an American artist…
“That’s done. Man are giving them the cool now which is sick. Dope.”
Obviously there’s crazy love between BBK and Drake too, how do you feel about grime taking over America? How do you think Trump’s influence is gonna change grime in America?
“This is how I think. With Trump coming into power, it’s only going to make grime even bigger in America. Grime is the voice of unrest, the voice of upheaval and rebellion, we’re the raw ting. We’re the ting, we’re the fuck off ting.”
Do you think there’s a civil war coming in America?
“Nah I don’t think that deep. People don’t care that much. There wont be a civil war because they all voted for Trump. They have to. They’re bless. All that stuff will happen after he’s gone. After he’s fucked everything up.”
Kanye 2020 yeah?
“Would Kanye be better? Because he made the price of Yeezy some mad ting. Yeezys are six bags!”
Can you see yourself acting in American productions? Everything you’ve done so far has been indie, British things. It’s great and it’s representing the culture, but can you see yourself in a Michael Bay, Transformers kinda thing?
“I want to be the new Showerbot! Skengbot! Nah but seriously, I’m on that pampering you get me, I’m on that. Or do a rom-com! Grapes in my trailer and that. Yo, rom-com ting.
“Separately, you know what, I’m bang on being in a film like 300 or Troy or be one of the Asgardians in Thor. I want to do something where I can put the mad garms, the mad helmet. I am so on that.”