As music genres go, grime is kinda brand obsessed. Much like rap music in the states, lyrics in UK urban often focus on wealth and status. Brands are a symbol of these things, and so are repeatedly referenced in songs and videos.
Companies know the power of this. Being associated with idolised MCs is good business for brands trying to build reputation in a young market. Ever watched a rap video and seen a bottle of Diddy’s Ciroc in the background, or foreground, kinda out of place? Well, that’s why.
In short, grime is important to brands, and brands are important to grime. So what logos are most acclaimed in the scene right now?
Tech: Beats / Apple
An easy one first up. Apple and its subsidiary Beats rule the roost in grime music, just as in hip hop. There are numerous markers of Apple and Beats’ success in grime. 1: How many freestyles have you seen with an MC wearing beats headphones around their neck? 2: “Peng tings on my Whatsapp and my iPhone too.” 3: Any substantial grime release has primarily been sold through iTunes, so it’s synonymous with the consumption of music. As much as rivals may try and change this, iPhones, Macs and Beats headphones are still coming out miles on top in grime.
Fashion: Stone Island
The Italian brand has witnessed a surge in popularity in recent years. Formerly, Stone Island clothing belonged to the niche of football-terrace fashion known as terracewear. However, that style has recently penetrated the urban space. Why? Well, there was a mash-up with the much-coveted brand Supreme, and the Drake co-sign helped, too. But moreso than that, the heart and masculinity represented by the brand’s football fan association has appealed to the male-dominated grime crowd. The so-called ‘new casual’ style of attire has taken a symbol from one super-competitive arena, and put it into another. Stone Island may not get good press in Skepta’s “That’s Not Me” or Kano’s “Three Wheel Ups”, but the fact it is on the lips of the scene’s biggest MCs is testament to its significance.
If garage was the sound of shirts and shoes, grime is the genre of tracksuits and trainers. For this reason, sports brands get a lot of coverage from MCs. Take AJ & Dave’s recent “Thiago Silva” vid – it’s essentially a walking Nike advert. Perhaps controversially then, we’re opting for Adidas on this one. This is predominantly because Adidas are moving innovative with Kanye’s Yeezy Boost’s, Stormzy’s “Nigo Duppy” marketing campaign, and their recent push to penetrate youth culture. They are also the brand most associated with one of the most distinctive moments in modern grime – “Man tried say he’s better than me, tell my man…”. You know the rest.
When it comes to hitting the bar, grime is very much a spirits person. Jack Daniels, Courvoisier and Grey Goose have all been name dropped repeatedly in songs, and occasionally pop up in videos as well. We’ve chosen Hennessy as top of the cops here, though. Much like the others, it’s got a pretty high price point, and is hard-hitting – representing wealth and masculinity. What tipped it for us was that, on the father of grime hits, Ghetts’ “One Take Freestyle”, he spits “I need Henney on my rider”. Close call, but Henney wins.
Put simply, there are two reasons BMW came on top here:
1: Jme, the king of car videos (which sadly often show the ridiculous reasons he is stopped by police) reps Beemers. First it was the 5 Series, then the X6.
Two: It had to be a German whip.