Post 4 January 2016

What a time to be alive: our biggest and best moments in 2015

4 January 2016

With 2015 well on it’s way out, the team here at the GRM offices have spent a lot of time thinking about the past year and its impact on our own scene. 2015 has been jam packed full of moments, so many so that our whole team had to put heads together and compile this list of the maddest ones.
From Chip’s triumphant warring season, to Mr West at the Brits, 2015 is certainly going to be remembered as another instalment in the history books.

Kick back and relive our picks this New Years Day. Here’s to a even more monumental 2016 from everyone at GRM.

When Kanye brought out the mandem at the Brit Awards

Picked by Griff

skepta kanye brits text

My favourite moment of the year has to be Kanye West bringing out the mandem at the Brit Awards, for his single “All Day”. Whether we need support from these US guys or not, Kanye is just that guy for me, a respected creative and tastemaker, and seeing his explosive performance with Skep, Nov and crew in tow was too cold. Fuck a back up dancer, that performance was very live and very historic.

Chip VS Bugzy

Picked by Jaik

My highlight of the year is without a doubt the beef between Chip and Bugzy Malone.

It was a war between two artists having to prove different things, and it helped produced one of the most classic feuds to have graced the scene. The huge attention revolving around the beef really helped to ignite the scene even more than it had and even brought new fans towards the music.

The views on all sends are now surpassing 1,000,000 showcasing how popular it all was. Chip came out on top in the end and managed to showcase why he is one of the best lyricists about, putting to rest the scrutiny upon his ability. Even though Bugzy Malone lost the battle, he has also managed to stamp his authority on the game and become a big name. Winners all round in a pivotal year for Grime.

The Kanye x Skepta show

Picked by editor Caroline SM

On March 3rd history took place as Kanye West and Skepta united the Hip Hop and Grime scene for a very epic surprise concert featuring the likes of Big Sean, Vic Mensa, Raekwon, JME, Novelist and Meridian Dan.

After hearing whispers of the show all day, tickets were announced out of the blue at 6pm with a show set to start at 9pm that night.

The Brit and US representers went back to back until 3am; Skepta, Nov, JME and Dan kicked it off, lighting up the stage at KoKo in Camden with “That’s Not Me”, followed by Kanye & Big Sean’s “Mercy”, then Meridian Dan performed his smash “German Whip”.

Despite all of the epic show and performance moments in 2015, there was not a single person in attendance who could say that wasn’t THE most historic concert experience they’ve ever witnessed.

Arguably the most well known and respected rappers in both America and England coming together to show utmost respect to one another in front of an intimate audience. An energy like that can only be created once.

Little Simz’ continued unsung success
Picked by Cam Johnston

My chosen highlight for 2015 would probably be Little Simz. Although, it’s difficult to pick a specific moment from her 2015 to claim as the most important to the scene, because she’s done so much that could’ve gone over people’s heads.

A couple months back, Simz released one of the best independent concept albums I’ve ever heard to have come out of the country. The project dabbles with fame and reality and how Simz’s character is coping with those lifestyle changes, alongside some seriously impressive production. I mean, that guitar solo on “Full or Empty” still hits me like the first time I heard it. As well as performing at our very own inaugural Rated Awards, she also appeared on Real Late with Rosenberg AND Sway in the Morning (impressively dispatching the “Five Fingers of Death Freestyle” in the process) and most recently jumped on stage to support Kehlani at her first London show.

Simz is a pioneer of UK rap and its wave of popularity that’s washing over the States. With a growing fanbase, she also joined Skepta and Stormzy on an exclusive list of rap artists to have appeared on ‘Later…with Jools Holland’, an incredible feat. With a final EP release earlier this month, her 4th of the year, Simz epitomised the work rate and attitude that MCs should have towards their craft, prioritising thought-provoking lyrics and a powerful message. Because of her achievements this year, King Simz is my GRM Writer’s Choice highlight.

Skepta’s Shoreditch “Shutdown” party

Picked by Krish

My best moment of 2015 would have to be when Skepta “Shutdown” Shoreditch with a surprise free gig on 1 May. If you missed this happening in real life or on socials you must have been living under a rock.

Posting on his Instagram the day before about the now infamous gathering, masses of people would come together in the (also now infamous) Holywell Road car park, and a #SHUTDOWN is exactly what happened. It wasn’t safe for the block not even for the cops, but even they still enjoyed it too- truss mi daddy.

It’s no surprise that Skepta referenced back the epic party in his “Back Then” freestyle, “David Cameron on the phone to Obama, Man are shaking and panicking, when they see the Shutdown Shoreditch gathering”.

Watch the Shoreditch surprise gig below:

Long live King Skeppy!

P.S Could you please drop Konnichiwa in 2016? We are really, really ready for it. Thank you.

Wireless Festival: Stormzy & Dizzee, Skepta & Drake

Picked by Meenal

With 2015 seeing Wireless Festival mark their 10th birthday, it also saw the festival join forces with Disturbing London and DJ Charlesy to feature some of our scene’s best rappers and give them an unheard-of-before-2015 opportunity to perform on the Main Stage at the Festival’s Wireless 10 birthday party.

The team really did Disturb London’s Finsbury Park bringing out Sneakbo, Yungen, J Hus, Bugzy Malone and Section Boyz to perform on the main stage, which later also played host to BBK, Krept & Konan (who joined Rita Ora’s set before jumping on motorbikes taking them to helicopters taking them to Glastonbury- mad ting), Lethal B and OF COURSE Drake bringing out King Skeppy to “man’s never been in Finsbury Park when it’s Shutdown Ay” (madder ting). Not to mention Stormz’s special guest; none other than the original Boy In Da Corner Dizzee Rascal, the following weekend too. Whew. What a time.

Chip AND Kano returning to The Eskimo Dance

Picked by Vidal

This year was an incredible success for “The Eskimo Dance”. For those that do not know, this is the closest thing to Royal Rumble you will ever see, across any genre, any stage. Initially starting off as a rave night for young London with just a 45 minute Grime slot at the end of the night dedicated to any and every MC in the vicinity, Eskimo Dance has grown to be a highlight in the calendar of British music.

Approximately 9,500 fans attending across their regional tour, consequently making the event Music Week’s most searched ticketed event on frequent occasions, ravers were able to soak in every reload in all its sweaty moshpit gun finger glory. Also, with a breath of fresh air running through the genre, from sweat boxes of pirate radio to at least one of almost every record labels A&R offices, this year The Eskimo Dance saw Chip AND Kano return to the stage and for the first time the second wave of Grime (Jammz, AJ Tracey, YGG, Big Zuu, Rowd and Mic Ty) with no other than MODE FM’s Spooky on decks to open the London date. Making this years events truly feel like the world of “The Eskimo Dance” has come full circle. If you was unfortunate enough to miss everything mentioned above this year, The Eskimo Dance returns for Spring 2016 with tickets available here.

Our very first Awards show #RatedAwards

Picked by Ren

So this might sound slightly biased, but one of the top moments for me this year has to be the Rated Awards. Granted, there have been other awards but with the utmost respect- “MAN DON’T CARE ABOUT ALL THAT” and I’ll tell you why.

While other award shows stick to the rules to keep the higher powers happy, often leading to an uproar and the annual argument of establishments failing to recognise actual street music and only jumping on the bandwagon of those who appear to suddenly blow up, The Rated Awards was not only an a award show but a completely new stance.

Now I’m not going to sit here and waffle about the whole night in detail, but what I will say is that for the first time in a long time, everyone in our industry could gather under one roof with no conflict.

Kano rightfully received our Legacy award, Charlie Sloth and Tim Westwood took verbal jabs at each other, Manny Norte had a hilarious outburst and finally, after years of waiting, we were able to see Hollow Man aka Giggs shut down a stage show without interference from the boi dem…AMEN!!

The closing of the ceremony was another key moment as Kano did a medley of his hits over the last ten years, later joined by Ghetts on stage as the pair went back to back, giving that nostalgic feeling of them rolling back the years when the two would merk a set on 92.3 DeJa Vu FM.

Not only did the Rated Awards shake off the stigma from many ignorant media platforms that only want to shed light when something negative happens within our scene, it was also the birth of something that our music community has been calling for. Look out for next year’s Rated Awards which is expected to be even bigger and better.

Kurupt FM’s #SixtyMinutesLive and the return of Craig David

Picked by Nathan Tuft

This had to be one of my favourite moments for so many reasons. First of all was the rise of Kurupt FM, the group behind BBC Three’s hit show People Just Do Nothing. The characters of Grindah, Steves and DJ Beats are played to perfection and for those old enough, bring back a real feel of nostalgia of the late 90s, early noughties garage scene. Hosting a #SixtyMinutesLive was a big moment in their career and this was highlighted in their choice of special guests, with something from everyone. From legendary names such as Shola Ama, MC Vapour and MC DT to grime’s finest, Stormzy and Big Narstie, the show was filled with non-stop action and memorable moments including the return of Craig David.

Over the past few years, news on Craig David was focused away from my music and on his health and fitness regime but 2015 marked a change. Since utilising the platform given to him by Kurupt FM and 1Xtra, Craig David went on the perform at Notting Hill Carnival alongside Sean Paul, Ms Dynamite, Redlight and MistaJam at Shy FX’s party, and he even made an appearance at this years’s Bestival, embracing and celebrating his former roots as the poster boy of UK garage and R&B rather than an earnest bodybuilder. The Kurupt FM show also provided Craig David a new audience in which he could showcase new music and did so, teaming up with Big Narstie on “When The Bassline Drops” and even spitting a verse over Stormzy’s “Shut Up” via Capital Xtra. With plans to drop his next album, ‘Following My Intuition’ in 2016, it seems we have a lot more of Craig David to look forward to and I think we have the Brentwood DJ group to thank for that!

Stormzy charting nationally with a freestyle #ShutUpForXmasNo1

Picked by Cee

stormzy shut up for xmas no1

Breaking down doors and barriers has always been a part of the identity of our culture, it’s how we’ve survived and managed to keep our identity intact all these years whist building the scene. This is why my favourite moment of 2015 has to be Stormzy charting with a freestyle…. filmed in a park.

With no label backing or any sort of big machine behind churning money into a massive PR campaign, the studio version of “Shut Up” was released on September 24th  as a B-side to “Wicked Skeng Man 4”, doing massively well and peaking into a top 20 position at number 18 in the Official Charts.

In an unprecedented move, Stormz opened up for Anthony Joshua before his big fight against Dillian Whyte in early December performing a very sick version of “Shut Up” live in the ring, causing a social media road block and giving “Shut Up” a massive push up the charts. In true New Gen style, Big Mike himself launched a #ShutUpForXMasNo1 campaign, encouraging his loyal fan base to keep buying the track and continuously let the stream run off Spotify in an effort to beat the typical X Factor winner track to the Christmas Number 1 spot. Sadly, he didn’t quite make the top spot, but “Shut Up” peaked at number 8 in the Official Charts and to me that is the most poignant sign of how an MC with such talent can make it to the very top with innovation, being yourself and of course, a lot of talent.

Voila, that is my favourite moment of 2015, purely on the basis that first of all a very sick freestyle charted nationally (mad ting), and secondly the fact this shows the sheer progress in our scene. So many of our homegrown artists like Stormzy flying the flag altogether and proving you can rely on doing it your way, something so important and necessary for future generations to learn from. I’ll even throw in a prediction and say Stormz will have a number one next year.

The game changers and the game’s favourites…

Picked by co-editor Elle SM

I think it’s safe to say 2015 will be a year that goes down in the history books. Unlike previous years, there was no sole winner and really, no competition (juicy, healthy beef not included – check out our rundown here if you were on the moon for half of 2015).

The scene united in a way never seen before and, it appears, has FINALLY started gaining the national AND international respect that has been needed and deserved for so long.

We’ve seen national and international sold out shows and tours from our scene’s finest talents (Skepta & BBK, Krept & Konan, Stormzy, Section Boyz), chart successes all over the place, BIG label signings (that actually seem to be working in artist’s favour- forget your urban myths of labels sucking all the creativity out of our talent), our very own Awards show with the majority of these exceptional talents showing face to support the movement and show solidarity (big up the 20,000+ people who live-streamed and kept #RatedAwards trending on Twitter in the UK for 24 hours too) and most importantly we’ve watched artists (signed and unsigned) winning and coming together to bring each other up, building more success and wins for everybody.

With all that in mind, my favourite moments of this year have to be watching the journeys of two sets of artists in particular…
Krept & Konan. Their debut album ‘The Long Way Home’ was teased in dribs and drabs for months, that energy and excitement was something else. The WHOLE scene was supporting and if you weren’t, well, why wouldn’t you? When it finally dropped, I could tell the game was about to change.

Here you have two “underground” UK rappers creating a debut album better than some (maybe a few) US rappers second and third albums. Lyrically incredible, witty punchlines, songs for the girls, songs for the dance, songs that make you reevaluate life, most importantly- ACTUAL SONGS. And an actual ALBUM, the way they used to be. Real music that says more than money, pussy, weed (there is still a bit of that ofc but that’s real life lol).
These two had features from some of the world’s biggest artists; Emeli Sande, Rick Ross, Ed Sheeran… but didn’t actually need them. The wickedest ting is I remember listening to those feature tracks for the first time and genuinely thinking to myself, “that Ed Sheeran/Emeli/Rozay hook/verse is nice… but that’s not why I’m still listening and enjoying this”.

Forget the long way home – these two have taken us on a whole ‘nother journey. Through ups, downs, eating McDonald’s on G4’s to performing on stage with Rita Ora at Wireless then leaving on motorbikes to get helicopters to perform at Glasto, to bringing half the 7 on stage at the MOBO’s after winning 2 awards and saying “F*** YOUR NEXT SPEECH LET ME FINISH” (not literally but if you saw it, you know) and proceeding to thank the online platforms who helped them get to where they are (yes they did say GRM Daily on national TV – that’s love).

Entering the UK album charts at number 2 with their debut album, creating undeniably one of the biggest tracks of the whole year with “Freak of the Week” (which of course charted and went Silver), signing to Def Jam, putting on a sold out national tour…You only have to look through Konan’s #2015memories on Twitter to see a snippet of the incredible moments the boys have had this year.

These two, with help from the rest of the Play Dirty team (you’re not forgotten Kritikal/Cosmic/Bengz/Vash), have shared every moment and made everyone feel a part of it, never forgetting their fans, friends or family. You could have never met these boys and feel almost as proud of their accomplishments as their own mums.

Next up, WSTRN. Akelle Charles, Louis Rei and Haile. Three extremely talented individuals from West who never dreamed of creating a collective, almost accidentally, became household names by doing exactly that.

I remember watching all three artists individually making extra noise at the very start of 2015 and making mental notes to keep an eye on each of them, so when I heard they had jumped on a track together a few months into the year I was excited to see what they’d put together. Of course this track was “In2” and the minute I heard it the potential for chart success was screaming at me.

Watching the boys’ journey, from running around performing at every and any live event in London as Akelle Charles, Louis Rei and Haile, to the release of the first video, the talk of a joint EP and a group name (now the household name WSTRN), then talk of signing, actually signing to Atlantic, THAT remix, getting playlisted on mainstream national radio and TV music channels, then watching the WSTRN boys performing to arenas of tens of thousands of people at BBC 1Xtra Live in Leeds First Direct Arena and Capital FM’s Jingle Bell Ball in the O2…(THE O2. Let that sink in again for a sec) and rounding up the year by appearing on the infamous New Years Day Top of the Pops, these guys success has genuinely been another key highlight of my year. Huge props to Morgan Keyz and the team too.

If these lot can manage to fit all of this into 2015, I can’t wait to see what lies ahead for all of them into 2016 and beyond. Congrats boys. Let’s hope their 2015 inspires continued hard work and more new breakthrough talent this year.