Despite the elephant in the room, it’s arguably been an extremely notable year for music and in
particular, Grime. The music and entertainment industry as a whole has not only demonstrated it’s resilience this year, but has in certain areas excelled where it was expected to fall short.
Personally, without music I don’t quite know how I would have coped this year. Music throughout my life has been, as dramatic as it sounds, the cornerstone of my very existence.
As 2020 draws to a close, I feel compelled to reflect on the year and shed an equitable light on all it’s accolades and successors.
It seems it’s been a year where a full “body of work” has been not only desired and coveted, but has been able to be digested more intently due to many of having both more time on our hands as well as an increased appetite to consume music.I found myself, especially in the depths of quarantine, revelling in playing a full album or EP from start to finish (often times on repeat), and really connecting with the project as a whole.
It was SO hard for me to whittle down my favourite projects from this year, but I had to give honourable mentions to:
(Top row L-R) D Double E – ‘Double or Nothing’, Manga Saint Hilare – ‘Make It Out Alive’, Wiley – ‘The Godfather 3’, JME – ‘Grime MC’, ‘P Money – ‘While We Wait’, Footsie – ‘No Favours’.
(Bottom row L-R) Frisco – ‘The Familiar Stranger’, Dizzee Rascal – ‘E3 AF’, Jammer – ‘Natural Selection’, Nasty Jack ‘Kweff Baby’, Tommy B – ‘Man Up’, Laughta – ‘Mood Swings’.
For a lot of artists, this year has been a chance for them to really hone in and focus on their music direction, with many teaming up for some eclectic collaborations. Some of my favourite links ups this year were:
(Top row L-R) D Double E ft. Skepta – ‘Don’, Manga Saint Hilare ft. Queenie & Micofcourse – ‘Contraband’, Chip ft JME and Dizzee Rascal – ‘Ignite’, Frisco ft. BBK – ‘Red Card’, Yizzy ft. JME – ‘Grime’, Backroad Gee ft. Lethal Bizzle & JME – ‘Enough is Enough’, Maxwell D, Novelist, Capo Lee, So Large, Bruza & Tempa T – ‘Serious 2020’.
(Bottom row L-R) Queenie, Lioness & Stush – ‘The One’, Ghetts ft. Jaykae & Moonchild Sanelly – ‘Mozambique’, Kamakaze, Eyez, Capo Lee & Big Zuu – ‘Royal Rumble’, D Power Diesel ft. Skepta – ‘Sniper’, The Heavytrackerz ft. Capo Lee, Frisco & Bossman Birdie – ‘What You Do’, Ghetts ft. Skepta – ‘IC3’, KwolleM ft. Manga Saint Hilare, Novelist & Flowdan – ‘Never Invited [Mellow Mix]’.
In particular the absence of live shows and events, eradicating many artists’ and events holders’ main sources of income and means of truly connecting with fans and integral social networks, moulded 2020 into a truly challenging year.
From as young as 5 years old, when my Dad took me to my first concert (the Spice Girls – and yes it was great), I’ve luxuriated in attending live shows. Particularly since my journey into the industry, attending shows, music events and festivals has been part and parcel of my love for music, opened many doors for me to connect with artists and others in the industry, and allowed me enjoy the “art” of music it’s entirety.
The void that this truancy left on the industry as a whole was pleasantly replaced (not filled) with some incredible virtual events and performances in the form of live streams over the course of the year, creating a unique experience for all those craving live performance.
Grime Originals raised the levels when it came virtual shows and showcases, hosting their ‘Virtual Showcases’ throughout October, featuring Big Narstie, Devlin, Sir Spyro and more. They also announced the highly anticipated ‘Grime Originals Docuseries’, focusing on some of the Grime scenes most highly acclaimed artists, set for launch in 2021.
2020 also saw the return of the infamous and sorely missed ‘Channel U’
to poignantly commemorate the premiere of the first original ‘Grime’ film ‘Against All Odds’
directed by Femi Oyeniran & Nicky ‘Slimting’ Walker. Grime Originals played a huge part in reviving the most-loved platform with it’s ‘Grime Originals Takeover’ on the 20th November. The resurrection of the channel for the release he film, along with it’s soundtrack, was notably a mammoth celebratory spectacle for the scene.
Honourable mentions for other top-drawer virtual events throughout the year go to ‘The Den’, Da Roof and ‘SBK & Friends’, which were weighted for their ability to bring us the “authenticity” of the live music experience in a virtual format.
Other artists who notably seized the opportunity to deliver stellar live performances were Skepta, featuring as part of newly launched platform ‘On Air’ back in October, and Jammer who recently performed for highly-acclaimed Amazon forged platform ‘+44’ following the release of his latest album ‘Natural Selection’.
Despite our gratitude for the comfort that these virtual offerings provided, I think I speak for the masses when I say we are still keeping all fingers and toes crossed that the live entertainment industry is able to make a ferocious come back in the new year. With many shows and events having already achieved ‘sold out’ status, it’s safe to say the anticipation is forcible.
We were, however, able to enjoy a memorable “real life” (socially distanced) event this year – the very first ‘Grime Brunch’ at Pitch, Stratford held by Grime Originals. Hosted by Manga Saint Hilare and featuring a stellar line-up of some of the scenes favourite faces and DJ’s, it was indefinitely a night that was treasured by all in attendance.
As if the controversy surrounding 2020 wasn’t enough, the year was made seemingly more eventful with the string of engaging warfare throughout, with artists such as Chip and Nolay pressing their feet firmly on the gas when it came to both quantity and work-rate.
At a time when the worlds senses were in a heightened state, the barrage of fresh music and fiery content
these conflicts provided was welcome entertainment for both Grime fans and those within the industry, sparking engaging debates on the likes of Twitter as well as across other social media platforms.
While some believe the carnage is over, I’m a firm believer that after the year we’ve had “anything can happen” – so I’m keeping my popcorn close by as we enter 2021.
August saw the launch of a plethora of new Grime Originals merch, including many pieces for women as well as accessories including hats, bags and phone cases. To shop the new collection as well as all the original GO clothing, visit grimeoriginalsclothing.com.
Although most of the years awards ceremonies were also virtual affairs, it was a refreshing feat to still be able to celebrate some of the UK’s most deserving talent.
The beginning of 2020 saw Stormzy collect the award for ‘Best Male Solo Artist’ at the BRITS, while other virtual endowments were awarded throughout the year to JME for ‘Best Grime Act’ at the MOBOs and to Dizzee Rascal with the ‘Legacy Award’ at GRM’s Rated Awards.
Though JME walked away with the award, the nominations for ‘Best Grime Act’ at this years MOBOs felt like a verifiable
win for the scene with the likes of Manga Saint Hilare, Capo Lee, P Money and Ghetts also being recognised as worthy contenders.
In conclusion, 2020 is doubtlessly a year none of us will be quick to forget – but somehow I can’t help but cling onto this statement for the right reasons.
It was a year where the odds were staked against us, everything we knew felt threatened and we were left feeling alienated and torn apart from normality and each other. The feeling of unity that music normally gave us felt, in the beginning, non-existent. However I can’t help but reflect on this year with a bittersweet appreciation for everything it still managed to provide. Proving wholeheartedly that “against all odds”, music is beyond doubt the medicine the world needs.
Chloe Mykel @cocomykel
…and Non Grime, here!