News 10 August 2016
Author: Sam

Pogba & Stormzy, Ronaldo & Novelist: How Football went Grime

Author Sam
10 August 2016

As of late, it feels like the respective identities of football and grime have begun to merge. While hip-hop has been most commonly associated with basketball for a long time, five or ten years ago grime didn’t have its own brother sport – perhaps it was further from the mainstream back then.

A bit like Nala and Simba, though, this was a match that always had to happen. Both grime and football are British staples, the people’s own, and much-discussed on city streets. The sights and sounds of grime music are penetrating football like never before, as the style and substance of the beautiful game creeps into the music.

Here’s how football went grime (or is it the other way round?).

GRM Daily

How Grime Swag went Football

Before Football jumped on the grime wave, grime started to adopt football’s style. The most obvious example is with Stone Island. The much-famed brand started out on the football terraces, before making its mark all over urban music. At a similar time, the peaks of caps started getting bent again, and football shirts began making regular appearances in videos. It is no coincidence that the recent PUMA x BAPE collab that has been rocked by much of the grime scene has a Wenger-on-the-touchline element to it, as well as an Inter-esque badge. In all of these ways, the aesthetic of football and grime have become more similar.

GRM Daily

How Grime Songs went Football

Football always had a bit of a presence in grime songs – Kano’s “9 to 5” from his early days had a typically eloquent break down of teenage baller disappointments. However, in recent times, this has become much more prominent. Stormzy’s David Moyes lyric from “Where Do You Know Me From” – with the classic moment in the video to go with it – is one of his most loved. Then there was that “Feed ‘Em to the Lions” Euro 16 special remix, with its fitting locker room artwork. However, for certified proof of how grime and footy have coalesced, look no further than Dave and AJ Tracey’s “Thiago Silva”, featuring Paris Saint Germain shirts, stadium, lyrics, everything. Both the video and song would have been out of place in the grime scene of old. In 2016, however, it is fully on trend.

How Football Adverts went Grime

It seems to be a recent marketing phenomenon to recruit grime stars for football adverts. Nike’s main Euro 2016 advert, the Cristiano Ronaldo body-swap chaos you’ve probably seen a thousand times by now, featured Lewisham’s own Novelist on the vocals. Meanwhile, BT Sport utilised Tottenham’s AJ Tracey for a couple of their promotional clips, and Stormzy was all over those Pogba Adidas commercials (more of that below).  Why? Well, grime is perceived as young, masculine and cool, in a way that brands that push football want to be associated with. That means there’s probably a lot more of this kind of stuff on the way…

How Football Announcements went Grime

In a momentous moment for all those involved, grime golden boy Stormzy more or less announced the signing of Football golden boy Pogba to Manchester United this week. What with Stormzy proudly rocking his Manchester United shirt, Pogba dabbing in similar colours, and the grime star turning round to reveal the name ‘POGBA’ on the reverse of his top, the slick Adidas visual might as well have just told the slower viewers “it’s done, btw.” Adidas’ decision to feature Stormzy in their marketing of such colossal news shows the belief the have in his marketing power, and perhaps the similar appeal he has to Pogba. The whole sequence has a distinctively urban feel to it, but, with its aforementioned convergence with grime, that seems to be the direction that football branding is going.


So, what next? Football chants to grime hooks? Grime clashes over football rivalries? It all seems possible in an increasingly grimeified football world.