By Cammy Thomas
A brief History of Female Collaborations in Grime
Public service announcement!! Mandem it’s time to move aside and let the girls of Grime shine. The ladies in Grime have been there from the very beginning, cast your minds back to Shystie’s ground breaking 2003 refix / reply to Dizzee Rascal’s ‘I Luv U’, which is the first time I can recall a girl coming to cause dub plate drama, and tear up the track cementing her deserved place in Grime. We had fierce femcee Nolay’s ‘Unorthadox Daughter’ on heavy rotation on the famed channel U, circa 2005. We all remember Lionesses’ roar from early, even as a lion cub on her memorable SBTV F64 freestyles. If we are going to say we have a Grime trinity in Wiley, Kano and Dizzee Rascal, then Nolay, Shystie and Lioness sit right alongside them, making a hierarchal hexagon!
As well as the boundary breaking women already mentioned, we also had veteran female battle Grime MC’s such as Lady Fury and Lady shocker, with the latter being instrumental in providing a platform and mentorship to the new influx of female MC’s. Lady Shocker leads her team to victory on the newly released female all-stars track; ‘The Switch Up’, ‘Shocker affirms her top tier status and dons the captains arm band as she states “…Still the General, don’t need no camo, on point like an arrow, stay on the straight and narrow”; on the tracks’ opening bars. Any time the girls in Grime pattern up for a collaboration, it’s deemed an event and draws attention, simply because it doesn’t happen nearly often enough. There was 2010’s all-female collabo in the form of a remix of ‘Game Over’ featuring Lioness, Lady Leshurr, Amplify dot, RoxXxann, Mz Bratt and Baby blue. The same group of women collaborated again in 2012 (which clearly means they are destined to reform and take over as a tekkers super troupe, powerful enough to rival the marvel mob!), on the track ‘Rock the Mic.’ More recently, the extremely busy boss lady, Lioness, gathered her peers – Queenie, Stush, Shystie, Lady Leshurr and Little Simz for the politically powerful ‘DBT’ remix in 2018.
It’s always special to see talented women come together in solidarity to support each other and create art in a male dominated genre, where women are sometimes overlooked and overshadowed, which is why female centric events are also important in Grime. Events such as 2016’s Girls I rate organised by songwriter Carla Marie Williams, 2017’s The Female Hustler launch organised by Sophie Jackson and hosted by Amanda Star and 2018’s Girls of Grime / Grime originals takeover organised by Shakira. These collaborations and events have kept women’s visibility in Grime steady but slightly out of focus. It’s safe to say that with the consistency of releases from women as solo and collaborative artists in 2019 so far, the visibility is improving and rapidly approaching 20/20 vision.
The Switch up
Veteran MC and ‘Don’t Flop’ battle champion, Lady Shocker has passed an electric current through her 12 strong squad on ‘The Switch Up’ (produced by JBoss), if there’s a nationwide power cut tomorrow (10th May) when the video drops we know who to blame! The line-up reads like a new generation of winners within Grime, * Clears throat for roll call * We have, Lady Shocker (Team captain), Miz, Chey, NyNy, Laughta, Pre Wavy, Nehanda, Cassie Rytz, Frankie StayWoke, Portia NY, Nerva, Tomboy Sexy, and Madders Tiff *Gulps glass of water after reeling off the cast list.* To hear all the female MC’s making nuff noise on one track in present day, is a moment which will be looked back on as a screenshot moment captured in time, just as we do with previous female collaborations; now.
Each MC spits on ‘The Switch Up’ for approximately 30 – 40 seconds showcasing their unique lyrical abilities, flow, style, and demonstrates their unique selling point. For instance, Miz has a guttural growl on each fierce syllable she spits and you can hear her literal hunger to chew up the beat and spit it back out at you, Chey drops the bold bar “Why do they hate so much put in the work don’t play so much, music takes up a lot of my time so you can’t be up in my space so much.” I can relate! NyNy’s verse grabs your attention instantly as it’s the only patois / ragga verse on the track making her bars memorable dancehall greatness.
Laughta the grafter as I’ve taken to calling her, delivers a colourful and charismatic verse complete with her trademark laugh and is full of energy. Pre Wavy has a cocky confidence, as she tells us she’s capable of taking mans gyal, and that things get “peak when she gets serious.” My personal favourite bar is delivered by Nehanda and comes with a break beat and a play on the infamous BBK anthem as she sprays, “There was too many men, too many many men, so I pushed them aside and picked up the pen” When I heard this bar I was so gassed I almost dashed my lap top across the gym changing room! Cassie Rytz has evolved and comes with a confidence I haven’t heard until this moment, as she delivers “I’ll twiss off your head, play catch with myself then I’ll let you take a pose that’s fatal.”
Frankie StayWoke comes through with a series of strong statements “Black pepper, hot like stepper, dark like rain, storm like weather.” Portia NY’s skippy flow is elite over the bounce of the beat, and she flows with expert execution as she slots her bars neatly into the riddim with ease. Nerva drops Epic wordplay with – “It’s no sauce, its potent elixir”, which had me fully screw facing my tablet on first listen as though I’d been personally violated. Tommyboy Sexy comes with a style which is evenly balanced between ragga chat and London lingo, as she bigs up sound bwoys and sound gyal’s getting money. The track is bookended with a strong and successful woman in Madders Tiff, just like its strong opener with Lady Shocker. Madders did not come to play as she tells O.G grime dons “No one listens to your sets anyway” and that they should – “Start using your brains, not your d!ck ok.” Amen Madders AMEN! Actually considering the MC’s on this BIG bop, let me correct myself, Agyal Madders AGYAL!
With so many MC’s on one track, this could have been chaotic and voices could have been unintentionally buried with each MC in the squad potentially competing for mic time. That is not the case here, this track works and it works well, due to the fact each MC has a unique personality and something fresh and authentic to showcase, if you don’t believe me take a look at the newly released video below, and look out for Snowy Danger coming to steal and swig all the EJ brandy!
Watch the *NEW VIDEO* for ‘The Switch Up’ below, directed by SBreezy, videographer Tunnel Vision TVE