Five of the Best: Skepta

Shaun Gray picks the five defining tracks from Skepta's constantly advancing grime careeer.

Becca Frankland

Last updated: 11th Jun 2017.
Originally published: 26th Oct 2015

Image: Skepta

When you think of grime, it's almost impossible not to think about Skepta. The Tottenham-born MC has been spitting lyrics alongside his brother JME since 2005. The pair formed Boy Better Know in 2006 and as they say, the rest is history. Three studio albums and four mixtapes later and Skepta aka Joseph Adenuga is the undisputed King of Grime.

He has been touring across the globe as of late but has returned to the UK to give back to the supporters who have followed him closely over the years.

‘Too Many Man’ (2009)

One of the most popular grime hits amongst DJs across the country including garage favourite DJ EZ. Out of all the tracks Skepta has released over the years, it was ‘Too Many Man’ that cemented him and the Boy Better Know crew as leaders in an emerging genre.

An irresistibly catchy hook with an instrumental that could get even the most sober attendee in a club skanking. Featuring the majority of the Boy Better Know on vocals, 'Too Many Man' followed on from the group’s debut single ‘Duppy (Doin’ It Again)' in 2006.

Despite not showcasing Skepta’s best lyricism, it set the foundations of his widespread appeal as it debuted at number 79 in the UK singles chart.

‘Are You Ready?’ (2009)

Skepta executes a mixture of commercial and old school grime with the Microphone Champion album. ‘Are You Ready’ in particular focuses on the latter as it strips the genre down to its barebones.

This track wasn't about mainstream radio airtime, in fact it was about the opposite, it was all about the same sound that first got Skepta recognition in the grime scene.

Better still, it features another industry heavyweight in Wiley on the hook. It is the first track on the album that really gets you to stand to attention as Rudekid’s production skills take centre stage.

‘Ace Hood Flow’ (2012)

Following the release of Doin’ It Again in 2011, you would have been forgiven for thinking Skepta had made a permanent transition to commercial music. 'Ace Hood Flow' though was a far cry from ‘Bad Boy’ and ‘Amnesia’ as he swiftly announced his return to his grime heritage.

It is difficult to say which track from his mixtape ‘Blacklisted’ stood out from the rest, as the majority are distinctive in their own way but 'Ace Hood Flow' resonated with the true followers of grime. A diss to what other artists were churning out in that time period, Skepta killed the beat with his famous flow and delivery.

‘That’s Not Me’ (2014)

The hype train set off from Skepta’s stop with ‘That’s Not Me’ as his mainstream appeal sky-rocketed after the release of this instantly recognisable track.

It promotes individuality and concentrates on going against fashion trends that are prevalent in modern day society. Homage is paid to the early years of grime (Lord of the Mics) with the beat and video, which cost a measly £80 to make.

The atmosphere at any event goes out of control whenever ‘That’s Not Me’ is dropped, everyone’s inner roadman comes alive in an instance.

‘Shutdown’ (2015)

First Kanye West gave Skepta a name drop during his performance at the BRIT Awards and then just days later ‘Shutdown’ was released with a sample of Drake in the intro.

'Truss mi daddi', it was the perfect promotional strategy that saw further meteoric rise for the man from Tottenham. The rebellious nature of the track is a dead cert to energise the atmosphere of any rave, as shown by the lively crowd in this video.

You cannot dispute the worldwide exposure it has given Skepta as an artist, and he doesn't show any signs of slowing down, with a new album ‘Konnichiwa’ on the way. He will continue to make waves in the industry. Honourable mentions go to Private Caller, Nokia Charger Wire, Dark, King of Grime and I Spy.

Skepta headlines the Saturday night of Wireless Festival 2017, which hits Finsbury Park between Friday 7th - Sunday 9th July - find Wireless Festival tickets below.

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