Born out of Bow, London in the early days of the 00’s, Grime was once as feared to middle class stiffs as soap is to a moosher. Gritty, uncompromising and liberating in its tenor, Grime was expected to dominate. The resolute sub-genre ‘grindie’ was next with the idiosyncratic fusion of Lethal Bizzle and The Rakes in 2006. But then nothing. ‘Electro-grime’ became extinct in 2008 when Skepta could only reach the lofty heights of Number 86 in the British charts. And as for Prince Rascal’s ‘betrayal’ of the subterranean, spat movement in 2009, the tide for this brutal, candid culture was meant to be becoming despondently calm.
However, fast-forward to 2014 and there’s a new street aficionado continuing the grime revival – Ghetts. One of the pin-ups of early grime music, Ghetts – aka Justin Clarke – joined the likes of Kano, Wiley and Tinie Tempah in augmenting the honest, spitting campaign but unlike his associates refused the major labels in 2005. Signing to start-up label Disrupt last year, the 30 year-old London-head finally released his anticipated debut ‘Rebel With a Cause’ – which through its balanced ideological musings, harsh beats and fervent delivery saw the poet receive a plethora of award nods including three at this year’s fabled MOBOs. Although miles from his hometown borough of Newham, Martin’s wolfish thirst for impassioned spaces saw him take his entourage into the compact realms of Manchester’s Deaf Institute – made fiercer by his loyal band of raving followers.
“Fuck that, I ain’t gonna hold my tongue back, there’s a scene called grime and I run that. I’ve been away for a minute and everybody’s been awaiting my comeback,” was rapidly snapped within the empowering murmurs of ‘Rags’ as his seven piece ensemble combined raucously, urging the chaos fuelled crowd with rounds of broken beats, wobbling bass lines and dual worked sequencers. ‘Rebel’ – incensed wordings slamming the odious spectre of David Cameron, yet emancipating in its primary focus of Clarke’s rise from the streets of his youth – flared and ‘Rudeboy’ delved into Clarke’s infancy and was delivered in a such an aggressive temper flashes of Fumin resonated.
Guests were continually joined as the rapper careened through ‘Ghetto No More’ and quips from his mixtape ‘2000 & Life’, with fellow East-Londoner Devlin retorting wildly with Clarke as the audience became awash with hand shooting symbols and the famed ‘blap’ phrase.
If critics thought grime was dead when Dizzee Rascal released ‘Bonkers’, they should really take note. Grime is healthy, wealthy and even cruder than before. Watch out Cameron. Ghetts is coming for you.
Words by Clive K Hammond