Exclusives 27 March 2020

GRM Exclusive: The Grime Scene Saviour: We reflect on Chip’s illustrious career

27 March 2020

Originally Published: 20/09/18

With the UK music scene arguably in the greatest place it has ever been, we consider why the Tottenham hailing MC is still successful and respected after over a decade in the game.

Chip, aka Chipmunk to OG fans or ‘Mr Can’t Run Out of Bars’ is a legend in his own right and the explanation as to why is simple: its his versatility, and ability to never sound out of place regardless of the soundscape he finds himself in.

The first lyrics most of us heard from Chip was the opening to his 2006 track “Who Are You” where he declares, “I am the grime scene saviour”, a sentiment he echoed 12 years later on “Darth Vader”.

On “Who Are You”, the 16-year-old made a commitment to the grime scene which he has honoured throughout his career. Chip is talented and versatile enough to be able to move between rap, dancehall and even pop music styles without ever disregarding his grime origins. Chip is fully aware of his versatility and embraces it. On his track “Coward”, he spits “I crush grime then I crush Pop, yes I’m somewhere in between”.

In 2015, Chip embraced his duality with his mixtape release Rap vs. Grime. Chip featured interludes from Tim Westwood and DJ Peter Rosenburg from New York’s Hot 97 radio station on the tape. By hosting both, Chip illustrated to listeners the respect he holds from two of the biggest figureheads on both sides of the pond.

The project showcases both styles and Chip spits over iconic and historic hip-hop beats as well as new and classic grime ones. Standouts include “Hard Food” where he spits over Dr Dre’s “Forgot About Dre”, and “Feels So Good” where he takes on the Mase classic and grime cuts “Duppy Riddim”, “BlukuByeBye” and “Hear Dis” featuring Stormzy.

Chip keeps his penmanship and devotion to lyricism consistent on both sides of the tape, and the project makes it clear that whether you wish to view Chip as a rapper or grime MC, one thing’s for sure is that he never compromises on the bars. 

On “Duppy Riddim”, Chip was evidently frustrated with the grime scene and the negative responses he was getting from some. He notably says, “Just come grime fans don’t know jack shit, hold a history class…” supposedly in response to those who belittle or play down his influence on the grime scene and many of the new artists emerging within it.

He reiterates this point again on “Hear Dis” when he raps, “why’s this industry fronting like their scene don’t need me anymore?” And this was a valid question. Chip’s pen is a rival to many, and at times, the controversy it created has spawned lyrical battles that drove MCs to produce their hardest verses in response. Chip has certainly been a driving force in the scene, and his new project is expected to continue to boldly go where others have feared to tread.

On his last album, League of My Own II, Chip linked up with Jammer, D Double E, JME, Miraa May and Wiley for track “Scene” which paid homage to grime. Chip said in an interview, “For me, this might be my favourite grime song I’ve made in my whole life”. Fans can hope for similar dedication to keeping scene alive from Chip on this new project, especially in a climate where people are debating the state of grime and it’s longevity.

“Every Gyal” featuring Mavado released in 2011 is a prime example of Chip’s versatility; this time beyond rap and grime.

Despite his grime origins, Chip appears at home and comfortable on the dancehall track, he maintains authenticity even though he’s rapping in a Jamaican accent. “Every Gyal” topped the Jamaican music charts, and frequent bashment ravers will confirm that the track is one of the very few international dancehall collaborations that Jamaicans celebrate and respect.

With dancehall sounds forming the basis of much of UK music at the moment, for example, the exploding afro-bashment scene, Chip’s comfortability within dancehall leaves him room to create more dancehall tracks on his upcoming project if he chooses to. Chip’s recent track with Red Rat which he premiered here on GRM Daily, is proof that he still has the ability to shell on dancehall and bashment riddims.

Chip’s highly sought after guest verses have made him as a go-to artist for a lyrical 16 to take a track to the next level. He frequently appears on singles and remixes to massive tracks like Ambush’s “Jumpy” and Stylo G’s “Yu Zimme”.

In doing this, Chip keeps himself at the forefront of the music scene, and proves that he’s still the man you need to call if your track needs a shelling. Chip also builds relationships and chemistry with other artists which allows him the pick of the cream of the crop when eyeing possible collaborations for his own project.

Diversification is the key to survival in any market, and with the goal posts constantly being shifted in the music scene – it’s Chip’s uncanny ability to wear many hats has ensured that he has continued to score hits. We’re expecting a eclectic mix of great music from Ten10, which will hopefully be a candid display of Chip’s multi-faceted greatness. Bring on the 21st of September!