Monday night saw the final of Red Bull’s Grime A Side tournament, and what a final it was. For those who don’t know, Grime A Side is an eight crew knock out tournament. At each stage, a three man combo from a particular city battle an opposing force. At the end of the each battle, it is left to the public to decide. The battle tournament is another touch of brilliance form the dons at Red Bull who keep pulling rabbits out of the hat when it comes to the conceptual music shenanigans.
Having made it to the final, all eyes were on Kamikaze’s Leicester and Eyez’ Derby to see who could take the championship back to their home city. On the line was pride, reputation, and the title itself.
From the jump, it was clear how much was at stake with both crews visibly more pumped up than in other rounds – think Joe Hart pre-match at the Euros, all heavy breathing and that. The battle took twists and turns in the early stages, as spitter by spitter laid shot after shot, with their rival crew doing their best to look unfazed.
Derby gained the upper hand as their boy LOX stood completely still and unfazed as Leicester’s Skeez dropped bars that would’ve riled a lesser man, but LOX then dropped the ball for his city by losing track of his bars in the moment. It was left to the standout performer of the tournament, Eyez, to claim the momentum back for Derby. With personal shots delivered with charisma and skill, he put Derby in the lead at the end of the first half.
By Round 2 it looked like Leicester had won it back, with Jafro, Skeez and Kamikaze all dropping head-spinning bars to their competitors. Derby, however, took shot after shot with smiles on their faces, and went mad for each other’s bars. Their crew dynamic and energy shone through. Eyez closed off the second half, which had much more of a personal, feisty element to it.
It was left to the public to decide the fate of the tournament. After an hour of online debating and rating, the people went for Derby. For me, in terms of bars, Leicester may have grabbed it, but the charisma and combined presence of the Derby boys won through with 54% of the vote.
Standout performer of the tournament Eyez looked elated as he sipped his Red Bull from the championship trophy, but both sides had done themselves proud. The tournament has done wonders in shining a light on battling culture and cities that often fall out of grime’s spotlight.